In Memoriam: Vyacheslav Chornovil

'He will always be remembered...'

Statement by Ambassador Steven Pifer, Embassy of the United States of America, Kyiv.

It is with great sorrow that I learned of the tragic and untimely death of Vyacheslav Chornovil. Mr. Chornovil's long and courageous struggle for Ukrainian independence and his contributions to the development of the Ukrainian state will always be remembered. Please accept my condolences and the condolences of the Embassy community.

'A great leader of Ukraine's drive for independence...'

Statement by William Green Miller, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Vyacheslav Chornovil in a tragic automobile accident. Mr. Chornovil was a great leader of Ukraine's drive for independence and, of course, was an inspiration for all Ukrainians as the leader of the Rukh Party.

Mr. Chornovil gave objective advice to his government and to the friends of Ukraine. He was very helpful to me, as ambassador, in telling it like it is. He was very direct, honest, and always had the interests of Ukraine foremost in his mind.

This is a great loss for Ukraine, and for Ukraine's friends like the United States, but his example will be an inspiration for Ukraine in the future.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife and family in this tragic moment.

'Chornovil was movement...'

Statement by Twentieth Century of Human Rights.

For the present generation, the name of Vyacheslav Chornovil is associated with Rukh (the Popular Movement of Ukraine) as a social phenomenon, as the most influential national-democratic party in contemporary Ukraine, and as the prominent and firm island of opposition in the swamp of the Verkhovna Rada.

For the generation of his contemporaries, a generation that blossomed in the fog-enveloped dawn of the post-Stalinist thaw and then was beaten, denounced and murdered by the cruel and arbitrary Brezhnevite regime; for the generation of the Shestydesiatnyky (Sixtiers) and subsequent human rights activists, Vyacheslav Chornovil was the embodiment of constant movement in thought and deed.

Chornovil was movement in a somnolent kingdom of fatalistic obsequiousness and subservience. Chornovil was movement towards freedom, away from the zone of the gulag, away from the zone of the USSR. Chornovil was a force that gave momentum to the human rights movement, the "zek general," the quicksilver mind, the uncompromising battler against political subterfuge and treachery.

"The Chornovil Papers" were the first manifestation of independent Ukrainian samvydav to arrive, like a swallow, in the West. Collected in the heady releases of the Ukrainian Herald, they were among the earliest examples of an independent, proud stance; of emancipated thought and word.

Today, Ukraine is in mourning. Today, thousands beyond Ukraine's borders are stunned by the news of the tragic death of Vyacheslav Chornovil and his driver, Yevhen Pavliv. They cannot believe that Chornovil has come to rest, because Chornovil was movement.

The organization Twentieth Century of Human Rights (formerly, the External Representation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, once headed by Vyacheslav Chornovil after his release from imprisonment), has received condolences from various activists living in the West: Aishe Seitmuratova of the Crimean Tatar movement; Yuriy Yarym-Agaev, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group; Andriy Grigorenko, son of the late Petro Grigorenko, patriarch of the human rights movement; Sviatoslav Karavansky, veteran of the national opposition movement; and from friends in Detroit, New York, Washington and Toronto...

We have sent these condolences onward, along with our own, to the family and friends of Vyacheslav Chornovil and Yevhen Pavliv, and turn to the Lord in prayer:

"Remember them, O Lord, in Your Kingdom."

Raisa Moroz
Leonid Plyushch
Nina Samokish
Nadia Svitlychna

'A dynamic leader, full of ideas...'

Statement by Osyp Zinkewych, founder of Smoloskyp publishing house and the Smoloskyp International Charitable Foundation in Kyiv.

The death of Vyacheslav Chornovil is especially tragic for Ukraine today, when its political life is suffering from what I would call an epidemic of "fractionalization." In the past, even though he was repressed and in prison, Chornovil was the one who unified the Ukrainian diaspora. His book, "Lykho z Rozumu" ("The Chornovil Papers"), became a kind of unifying factor, which renewed the hope of a diaspora that had lost all hope. It showed that there was a national liberation struggle going on in Ukraine - a different kind of struggle, using completely different methods, but, nonetheless, a struggle for freedom and independence. In this Vyacheslav Chornovil played an important, leading role - himself and through his writings, published abroad in Ukrainian and other languages by Smoloskyp and other publishers.

Especially after he joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, he became an example of a dynamic leader, full of ideas and initiatives, who, loathing inactivity, worked incessantly, believing in Ukraine and its future. This had a great impact especially on young Ukrainians who were born and grew up abroad. He was the most popular leader for them; they believed in him and trusted him. And this was his great achievement, both for the diaspora and for Ukraine, in the past and in the present.

I hope that his death will somehow serve as a unifying factor for Ukrainian politicians and political parties.

'A founder of independent Ukraine...'

Statement by Ihor Gawdiak, president of the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council.

Thirty-two years ago the world became acquainted with a 29-year-old Ukrainian journalist, Vyacheslav Chornovil. His extensive report on the trials of Ukrainian patriots, titled "Lykho z Rozumu" (published abroad as) "The Chornovil Papers" was covered by the major media and soon it was read in Ukrainian and in numerous translations in many countries of the world. This was Chornovil's declaration of war against the system that had oppressed his nation, and he waged this war for nearly a quarter of a century, earning for himself a place at the head of the triumphal column of victors.

On March 26, news of the death of one of the founders of independent Ukraine, one of its democratically elected legislators and an internationally recognized statesman covered the world at the speed of modern communications.

This was tragic news. Ukraine still needs the efforts of one of its main builders. But we should also remember that Vyacheslav Chornovil was fortunate to have achieved what he had set out to do, to see and enjoy his victory, and that his name is forever written on the pages of Ukraine's history.

'Unparalleled moral courage...'

Statement of Roman Szporluk, director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.

Scholars of 20th century Ukrainian history will forever recognize the extraordinary contributions of Vyacheslav Chornovil. As a prominent dissident in the late Soviet era, Chornovil displayed unparalleled moral courage. Chornovil never capitulated despite being imprisoned several times for his principles. The publication of "The Chornovil Papers" made the Western public aware of Soviet violations of national and human rights in Ukraine and won international support for the Ukrainian cause. In the 1980s, he emerged as a leader of Ukraine's drive for independence. The establishment of Ukrainian independence between August and December 1991 was in no small part the work of Vyacheslav Chornovil. He may be rightly regarded as one of the founding fathers of a free Ukraine.

One of his great ideals was Ukraine as a country for all of its citizens. His determined efforts to create a Ukrainian state welcoming to all the various peoples of Ukraine helped to ensure a peaceful transition to independence. Through his life and work, Chornovil showed the practical realization of the Ukrainian ideal of "sobornist". Throughout his life, he bridged past regional divisions within Ukraine and made the division of Ukraine into "east" and "west" a matter of the past. His untimely death is an irreparable loss.

'A fighter in word and deed...'

Statement by Ulana Diachuk, president of the Ukrainian National Association.

News about the untimely and tragic death of Vyacheslav Chornovil, national deputy in the Verkhovna Rada and leader of Rukh, the Popular Movement of Ukraine, was a painful blow to the Ukrainian diaspora. We have lost a principal leader of Ukraine's national-patriotic forces, a courageous and unequivocal defender of human and national rights, an active builder of an independent Ukrainian state based on rule of law and humanistic-democratic principles.

Vyacheslav Chornovil was a person of staunch convictions, who did not stray from those convictions when it came to the national interests of the Ukrainian nation. As a fighter, in both word and deed, against totalitarianism, he defended the principles of democracy and freedom.

The Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Association, speaking on behalf of all its members, expresses sincere condolences to Mr. Chornovil's wife, Atena Pashko, his entire family, his friends, and all who grieve as a result of this great loss for the Ukrainian nation.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 4, 1999, No. 14, Vol. LXVII

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