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July 18, 2001

Dr. Yuri Shapoval Completes Manuscript on Long-Term Head of the Soviet Secret Police in Ukraine

In the 1990s, the Kyiv historian Yuri Shapoval established himself as a leading authority on the history of communist rule in Ukraine. He is the author or co-author of over 400 publications, including Liudyna i systema. Shtrykhy do portreta totolitarnoi doby v Ukraini (The Man and the System: Toward a Portrait of the Totalitarian Era in Ukraine) and Mykhailo Hrushevs'kyi i HPU-NKVD. Trahichne desiatylitta 1924-1934 (Mykhailo Hrushevsky and the GPU-NKVD. A Tragic Decade, 1924-1934). A great scholarly strength of Dr. Shapoval's publications is that most are based on archival documents from Soviet secret police and Communist Party archives in Ukraine, which became widely available to scholars and researchers only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In spring 2001, Dr. Shapoval spent two and a half months in Canada at the invitation of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) to conduct further research and complete projects in his area of expertise. Funding for his research stay came from the Drs. Ivan and Myroslawa Iwanciw Endowment Fund, administered by CIUS.

Yuri Shapoval had several tasks in mind when he arrived in Canada. The most pressing was completing a manuscript (co-authored with Vadym Zolotariov) on the long-term head of the secret police in Ukraine, Vsevolod Balytsky (1892-1937). Although he held leading positions in the ChK-GPU-NKVD from the early 1920s, and headed the secret police in Ukraine from 1926 to 1937, organizing the Soviet state's mass terror campaign against the Ukrainian people in the 1930s, very little is known about him. There is no entry on Balytsky in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, or in the two editions of the Soviet Ukrainian encyclopedia. The Entsyklopediia ukrainoznavstva does have a brief note on him. Ironically, Balytsky himself fell victim to the terror machine he helped build in 1937 and, as was the practice in the Soviet Union, was expunged from official historiography. During the period of his stay in Canada, Dr.Shapoval finished work on the manuscript, which is to be published in Ukraine under the title Vsevolod Balyts'kyi. Osoba, chas, otochennia (Vsevolod Balytsky: The Man, the Times, the Circumstances). Some of the funding for its publication will come from donations received by CIUS for this purpose from Dr. Celestin (Mykola) Suchowersky of Edmonton and the Reverend Hryhorij Fil of Radway, Alberta.

In addition to his work on the Balytsky manuscript, Dr. Shapoval conducted research in Canadian libraries and archives. This included work in the libraries at the universities of Alberta and Toronto (in the Peter J. Potichnyj Collection on Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Ukraine), as well as at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa (in the Andrii Zhuk Collection), where he was assisted by archivist Myron Momryk. He also consulted with Canadian scholars, including Professor Emeritus Peter Potichnyj, on the publication of the third and fourth volumes of Litopys UPA (Ukrainian series), helped prepare entries for a CIUS-sponsored historical dictionary, and entered into an agreement with CIUS to cooperate on a project on "Repression of religion in Ukraine in the 1920s and 1930s."

During his stay in Canada, Dr. Shapoval gave several lectures before academic and Ukrainian community audiences, including CIUS-sponsored lectures on "Current Historiography of Totalitarianism in Ukraine: Achievements and Problems" at the University of Alberta (March) and on "Archival Sources on Researching Bolshevik Political Terror in Ukraine, 1917-56" at the University of Toronto (May). Dr. Shapoval also spoke on historiography of totalitarianism in Ukraine at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, St. Paul's University, Ottawa (April), and on "The Importance of Historical Knowledge in the Context of the Current Situation in Ukraine" at the Ukrainian embassy in Ottawa. Invited to Montreal for a short visit by Professor Roman Serbyn, he spoke there on "The Assessment of OUN and UPA in Contemporary Ukraine," co-sponsored by the Shevchenko Scientific Society (NTSh), the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club, and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (April). The Montreal NTSh also sponsored a lecture on "Mykhailo Hrushevsky, 1924-1934: Unknown Documents and Facts."

In Montreal, he gave an interview to Radio Canada International for broadcast in Ukraine, and was interviewed in Toronto for the Ukrainian television program "KONTAKT."

In Ukraine, Dr. Shapoval heads the Centre for Historical and Political Studies at the Institute of Political and Ethnonational Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

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