In Memoriam: Vladislav Niedobora
Vladislav Hryhorovych Niedobora, the oldest member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group died on 2 April. He was one of four people from Kharkiv sentenced for signing a letter deemed “anti-Soviet” in 1969. We knew that he was seriously ill and that there was virtually no chance of recovery, yet still hoped, and the words “Vladiks died” came as a bitter blow. He died three months before his 75th birthday.
Vladislav Niedobora, an engineer by training, was born in 1933 and lived in Kharkiv. As they said in Soviet times he was entirely successful, with a job, family and two sons. He was from the generation of the “children of the twentieth congress” who gained the hope of living under socialism with a human face. However it was precisely with such idealists that the quietly rotting Brezhnev regime began fighting.
At the end of the 1960s Petro Grigorenko wrote an open letter in support of the Crimean Tatars and was placed in a psychiatric institution.
On 25 May 1969 an appeal was written which reported “the violation of one of the main human rights – the right to have independent views and disseminate them by any lawful means”. The letter was addressed to the Soviet government, and reached the UN Human Rights Committee and was heard around the world.
Among the 54 people who signed the letter was Vladislav Niedobora.
On 3 February 1970 Niedobora was arrested and in November 1970 he was sentenced to three years labour camp. He served his sentence in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
He was released in 1973 and returned to Kharkiv. In 1991 he was rehabilitated.
Vladislav Niedobora will be remembered as a kind, decent and cultured man with a subtle sense of humour.
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group