In Memoriam: Vasyl Barladyanu

Vasyl Barladyanu (-Byrladnyk), poet and writer, human rights activist who in Soviet times was persecuted for his views and writings, died in Odessa on 3 December 2010. He was 68.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Vasyl Barladyanu wrote articles on the national issue in both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. They were published in Samizdat under the pseudonym Yan Drubala.

Active persecution began in May 1972, then in January 1974 he was accused of supporting Ukrainian nationalism, expelled first from the Communist Party, then in May dismissed from his job at Odessa University. He was stripped of the right of working “in ideological fields”, this including teaching work.


He finally found a job in the Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art., but a couple of months later, in June 1976, the KGB searched his flat, removing patriotic poems, academic and publicist articles on the political situation in Ukraine and on the history of the national question.  At that stage he was only dismissed from his job.


In 1977 an autobiographical article was included in the second publication in Paris of Chornovil’s seminal work on the situation in Ukraine “Lykho z rozumu” [published in France as “The Chornovil papers”].

He was arrested by the Odessa Prosecutor’s office on 2 March 1977 and sentenced in June that year to 3 years harsh regime labour camp under Article 187-1 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR (“Dissemination of patently false statements defaming the Soviet political and social system”). 


Three days before the end of his sentence, on 29 February 1980, Barladyanu was taken to the Rivne SIZO [pre-trial detention centre] where a new “case” was concocted against him. He was sentenced on 13 August 1980 under the same Article 187-1 to a further three years imprisonment. “Expert” opinions were given by the Associate Professor of the Rivne Institute for the Water Industry, Maximov, and Associate Professor of the Rivne Teachers’ Training College, Leshchenko who both detected “defamation” of Soviet reality and “friendship of nations” in his poetry and academic writings.


He was released on 28 February 1983 and worked in Odessa as an electrician. His works from that time include a novel “V dorozi do materi” [“On the way to my mother”], a historical drama “Ovidiy” [“Ovid”], a collection of poems “To Oksana”, as well as a number of articles on the history of Ukrainian culture.


From the beginning of “perestroika”, Barladyanu again became actively involved in the human rights and national liberation struggle. He was one of the founding members in September 1987 of the Ukrainian Initiative Group for the Release of Prisoners of Conscience, which two days later became part of the International Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners.


In September 1987 Barladyanu joined the editorial office of the journal ”Ukrainsky visnyk” [“Ukrainian Herald” ] which had been restarted by Viacheslav Chornovil in August. He was also a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals “Kafedra” [“Rostrum”] and “Ukrainski Perspektivy” [“Ukrainian Outlook”] where he published a number of articles.


On 30 December 1987, together with the entire editorial board of Ukrainsky visnyk, he joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group  On 11 March 1988 he was one of the 19 members of UHG who signed the “Address of the UHG to the Ukrainian and world community” about the reactivation of the group. On 7 August 1988 it was transformed in the Ukrainian Helsinki Union (UHU).  When the Ukrainian Republican Party (URP) was created on its basis, Barladyanu remained outside the party.


In 1992 Barladyanu returned to lecturing at Odessa University and also gave lectures at the Seminary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate.

Vasyl Barladyanu wrote over a thousand academic, academic-publicist works in Ukrainian, Russian, Rumanian, German, English and French.


He was a member of the Union of Writers and the Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

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