Dedicated to the 100 million victims of communism worldwide.
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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Ukraine Under Communism

The limits on freedom of expression became clear when in January 1961 the KGB arrested seven Ukrainian jurists for having drafted a program for the organization of a political party called the Ukrainian Workers—Peasants Union. They were sentenced in closed court to harsh terms of incarceration. Their leader, Lev Lukyanenko, was sentenced to death, but his sentence was later commuted to 15 years of imprisonment. The number of arrests of Ukrainian cultural activists increased when Volodymyr Shcherbytsky became the first secretary of the Communist Party (CP) of Ukraine in 1972. In that very same year over 200 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and sentenced to long terms in prisons and labor camps. However, the efforts of Moscow to re-establish neo-Stalinism did not stop the dissidents -- despite the increasing numbers of arrests and harsh sentences, they continued to struggle for their civil and national rights.
A real change in the life of the people began only in 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev, became the First Secretary of the Communist Party, and announced his policy of glasnost and perestroika. The true intent of Gorbachev was immediately tested by Ukrainians, who organized various civic and cultural clubs that discussed sensitive political and religious issues. These newly established organizations also held large public gatherings at which, former dissidents, challenged the behavior of the communist government.

The government was subjected to high public criticism for its handling of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986. The high point of public gatherings in Ukraine was the RUKh, the Ukrainian Movement for Restructuring, which was held in Kyiv from September 8 – 10, 1989. It was Ukraine’s “Quiet Revolution” at which 1,109 delegates from every province of Ukraine, challenged the Communist Party and called for national sovereignty and a democratic pluralistic society. Two years later, on August 24, 1991 the Parliament of Ukraine adopted a resolution declaring Ukraine an independent country. The decision was confirmed by a public referendum on December 1, 1991 when 92% of the population supported the decision of the Parliament. That was the end of communism in Ukraine.

Click for sources of the victims of communism

Location:  Eastern Europe
Capital:  Kyiv
Communist Rule:  1922-1991
Status:  Independence: 24.08.91
Victims of Communism: