[LITOPYS UPA: Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]
Related Materials

Pacification of Ukraine:
Soviet Counterinsurgency,

Peter J. Potichnyj
McMaster University

October 2-3, 1987

Prepared for the Conference on Russian Expenence with Counterinsurgency, Center for Conflict Studies, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N. B.


The Soviet pacification of Ukraine was characterized from the very beginning by a very broad, comprehensive approach utilizing the political, military and intelligence measures. This military-political campaign which combining intimidation and violence with subtle bribery and a massive propaganda effort was intended to permit the Soviet leadership to consolidate its power in the Right-Bank Ukraine, (which they considered as the most hostile), in the shortest possible time. It was probably gratifying to them that theses measures could and actually would be employed out of the glare of international publicity. The outside world was at that time fully preoccupied with its own problems and was quite happy to let the USSR handle difficult questions of their internal control. In these circumstances the Ukrainian liberation movement although highly organized, and possessing clear and well developed political goals, was almost completely isolated and could not count on either political or military support from outside.

These circumstances must have been apparent to the Soviet leaders and they took a number of important steps to make certain that control over the area did not slip out of their hands.

For example the creation of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council in July 1944 was immediately countered by the Soviets by making certain that Ukrainian SSR be made a founding member of the UN.1 At the same time the Ukrainian Liberation Movement was labeled by Soviet propaganda, and continues to be so called to this day, a small group of pro-Nazi sympathizers and the enemies of the civilized peoples everywhere.

In describing the Various counter-insurgency measures by the Soviets we should remember keep in mind the tree main aspects (military, political and intelligence) mentioned above. We should also remember that these counterinsurgency efforts extended or well over a decade or approximately from 1944 to 1955/56, when finally the activities of the underground ceased to be the main preoccupation of the authorities.

This twelve-year period should be further subdivided into at least four segments, each one characterized by different tactics employed by the Soviets in their fight against the underground: pre-1944, 1944-1945, 1946-1950.


Military Measures.

In the pre-1944 period the Soviets concentrated on establishing their own clandestine operations behind the German lines. This effort went in two directions: a. establishment of large partisan forces and B. by setting up the clandestine network of agents. The emphases was on the first activity but the second was by no means neglected. There exist a large number of Soviet publications testifying to their efforts in this regard.

It is important to remember that both of these activities from the very beginning were aimed not only at the Germans but also at the potential rivals to the Soviets in Ukraine, the Ukrainian nationalists, who in their struggle against the Germans grew into a formidable force. This fact was recognized not only by the Germans who were not able to penetrate large territories controlled by Ukrainian underground, but also by their allies the Hungarians and the Rumanians who thought it wise o conclude the non-aggression agreements with the UPA behind the Germans' back. 2 Even more dangerously for the Soviets, the UPA undertook to neutralize a large non-Russian mass who as the HIWIs served in various units attached to the German army, and succeeded in bringing some of them over to their side. 3

Thus the Kovpak raid of 1944 behind the German lines into Volyn and Galicia should be viewed not only as the anti-German move but also as an attempt to reconnoiter and to test the forces of the Ukrainian underground.

The lessons that the Soviets learned during this foray into the bastion of Ukrainian nationalism was a bitter one. Kovpak forces, in the "Carpathian Raid", were able to reach Galicia but could not establish themselves in the Carpathians due to unexpectedly strong resistance from the UNS (the name of the UPA in Galicia), were routed and had to retreat from the territory in very small groups and in a less than organized fashion. 4 To this day in Soviet historiography this defeat is placed at the feet of Germans and "their collaborators", the Ukrainian nationalists. The Soviets, contrary to facts, continue to insist that the UPA in Volyn and the UNS in Galicia were organized by the Ukrainians at the expressed orders of the Nazis. Form that time in the term "the Ukrainian-German Nationalists" came into vogue and this insulting appellation continues to be used to this very day in the Soviet propaganda references to Ukrainian nationalists.

However, not all was lost in that raid. Although they suffered a military defeat the Soviets were able to leave behind some clandestine agents who became quite handy later after Germans retreated from Ukraine. 5

The re conquest of Ukraine in 1944 brought with it new problems for the Soviets but also the new opportunities. Militarily they were now in a preponderant situation and did not lose much time in trying to exploit this fact in their struggle with the underground.

The masses of the Red Army that flooded western Ukrainian lands in the wake of the moving front lines were thrown immediately into battle against the Ukrainian underground, and in particular against the UPA. 6 It became apparent almost from the beginning that the Red Army soldiers were not in the mood to fight their countrymen. Moreover having anticipated such a turn of events the underground leadership prepared thousands of propaganda leaflets aimed at the soldiers and began to distribute them widely among the Soviet forces with a great deal of success. As a result the instances of the Red Army soldiers refusing to comb the forests multiplied. When large sweeps were attempted and the solders moved in under orders they behaved in the most undisciplined fashion, making noises, and discharging their firearms. And they also spread the news among the population and in this fashion warning the underground about the impending actions. The results were unsatisfactory and the situation was deemed politically dangerous. As a result the Red Army was withdrawn form direct combat operations and was replaced by the special NKVD forces. 7

The main Soviet tactic at that time was to garrison the villages with the Red Army and to use the NKVD troops to search the forests. This approach, however, was also of limited utility because at least in the beginning, the Soviet intelligence on the underground was still quite underdeveloped and faulty and secondly the people in general were not willing to identify with or to support Soviet authorities. Nevertheless the Soviet measures did require changes in the tactics of the underground. Starting with the fall of 1944 the UPA began to operate in smaller units of about 100-150 men and later on, with the exemption of Poland, even in smaller detachments. 8

Throughout the winter of 1944/45 the Soviet military tactics did not change appreciably. Their approach continued to emphasize the saturation of the terrain with the armed forces and using the NKVD special troops (and the so called spetsgrupy) for the search and destroy operations. 9

The real blockade of the area of Western Ukraine began only after the war in Europe was over, in July 1945 to be precise, 10 although in some regions (for example in Sambir district) the action began already in March 1945. 11

These tactics were in complete harmony with the secret instructions of the party. In one such report captured by the underground I. I. Profatilov, Volyn Obkom First Secretary, lists various political, military and intelligence measures to be taken in the fight against the underground. 12 In it a great stress in laid not only on the use of the NKVD/NKGB troops and the "operativniki" and the militia, but also on the need to organize the so called village self-defense Units, and the Search and Destroy units (Istrebitelnye Bataliony-"Strybki"). 13 Beginning with 1945 the underground was facing considerable forces arrayed against it:

  1. Regular army which garrisoned the villages.
  2. NKVD internal troops.
  3. NKVD spetsgroups.
  4. NKGB operatives.
  5. GRU operatives.
  6. SMERSH agents.
  7. Militia.
  8. Various guards units (railroad, bridges, factories).
  9. Units of Istrebitelnye Bataliony, ("Strybki").
  10. Village self-defense units.

In the period of 1946-1950 Soviet tactics changed only to the extent that the regular Soviet forces were no longer deployed against the underground. The burden of pacification were now entirely on the shoulders of the MGB/NVD troops and various support units and the paramilitary organizations.

With the improved intelligence capabilities and greater political control the Soviets began to deploy smaller units in the search and destroy operations of specific targets while continuing to garrison villages with local paramilitary detachments and supplemented with the MVD troops. 15


Political measures.

The Soviet authorities faced formidable tasks in the territories re conquered from the Germans. They had to face a highly organized political opposition and a very hostile population. The organization of the administrative network was also a very difficult task aside from the economy which was totally disrupted in the entire territory of Ukraine and not only in its western provinces. 16

The situation in Western Ukraine can be deduced from a secret instruction issued in 1944 by I. I. Profatilov the First Secretary of the Volyn Oblast Party Committee. 17

The instruction approached the task of re-establishment of the Soviet power in a rather comprehensive manner. It was divided into six parts of which only the last one addressed the real needs of the population. Other sections dealt primarily with the political-organizational matters and with the Ukrainian liberation movement.

The raion secretaries of the party were ordered to set up immediately the Executive Committees of the Village Soviets, to locate them in the best houses of those who were deported from the region, to staff them with the most politically reliable personnel and to make certain that they are functioning in a systematic fashion. 18

They were also to set up the primary organizations of the Komsomol in each village and to recruit into it young people especially those born in 1928 or later. 19

In order to exercise a better control over the village an institution of "desiatnyky" (men responsible for each ten households) was to be set up and the individuals to staff it were to be selected, appointed and instructed in their duties. 20

Each village was to create a Self-Defense unit of at least 15 men and to make certain that commanders of these units were politically reliable individuals. The organization of the Search and Destroy Units (Istrebiteli) was to proceed at full speed and to encompass all population settlements while their personnel and especially the commanding echelon was to have received a proper clearance form the Ratiodel of the NKVD. 21

The need for a broad political education campaign among the population was also emphasized. The instruction called for meetings to be held in all villages at which the harmful nature of Ukrainian nationalism was to be exposed and explained. 22

The women and the young people were to be specifically targeted and special lectures on very specific topics were to be developed for them. For the young the main theme was "The Tasks of the Youth in the Struggle Against the Ukrainian-German Nationalists and in the Strengthening of the Organizations of Soviet Power". For the women two themes were developed, "The Ukrainian-German Nationalists Are the Worst Enemies of the Ukrainian People", and "The Work of Soviet Government for the Benefit of Women and Children". 23

In addition to military training all members of the village Self-Defense and of the Search and Destroy (Istrebiteli) units were also o undergo special instructions in the "practical struggle against the Ukrainian-German Nationalists" under the leadership of the NKVD Raion Chief. As well all members of the village Soviets were obliged to participate in a series of lectures on the general theme "The Soviet Power is a True People's Power". 24

Each village Soviet was also ordered to assign one of the better houses (whose owners were "deported beyond the borders of the oblast") for a village club, to furnish it adequately, provide reading materials, and to "beautify it with party slogans and the posters of party leaders". Where possible a choir, a musical group or a drama group was also to be organized. 25

These political initiatives were to be supplemented by more practical organizational measures. The most important of these was the census and the registration of the entire population which was to be completed by March 5, 1945. The registration was to be done by the Village Soviets with the help of "desiatnyky" and other mobilized individuals, and verified by the Raion Committee of the Party. In addition the Raikom was to register all those who were ordered to come out of hiding and to confess their sins, and to make certain that all families whose members failed at abide by this order were to be "deported out of the area". The Raikom with the help of the Village Soviet and other institutions was also ordered to investigate every family member whose absence could not be explained either by available documents or by testimony of the witnesses. And finally the registration lists were to be entrusted to specially designed militiamen who were made responsible for reporting the appearance of any individual who was not on the registration list. 26

The instructions also stressed the need to institute some positive measures designed to build support for the Soviets, and to placate or to neutralize at least some sections of the population. Organizing schools, clinics and hospitals, improving health and sanitation conditions of the people, supplying such necessities as the salt and matches etc. were viewed as positive measures. Of course, a denial or withdrawal of these services in many area suffering from the enteric ad typhoid fever, (and such denials were widely practiced by the authorities, was considered simply as an additional and a deserved punishment for the recalcitrant population. 27

A number of measures were also instituted with a clear purpose of enhancing and speeding up the political, social and economic differentiation among the peasantry. Thus all families "who suffered from the hands of Ukrainian-German Nationalists of the Germans" were to be registered and given aid in reestablishing their farms. They were also allocated dwellings and agricultural implements of those who were forcibly deported from the territory. As well they were assured the seeds, agricultural implements and even additional land at the expense of the "kulaks". 28 At the same time the instruction insisted that the authorities explain to the peasants "the possibility of setting up of collective farms" and to "prepare the conditions for a future collectivization drive and it possible to organize at least one or two collective farms in each raion." 29 and finally the Raikoms were instructed to ensure fulfillment of the planned deliveries of grain timber. 30 Again this last provision allowed the lical administrations under the pretext of voluntary deliveries to confiscate large quantities of grain form the peasantry in those villages that were considered politically unreliable. 31

During 1945-1950 several large scale political initiatives were undertaken which had a direct bearing an impact on the struggle with the underground. These actions were: forcible population transfers between Poland and the USSR and deportations of the Ukrainians to eastern regions of the USSR; campaign against Ukrainian churches and the forcible liquidation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church; the elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet of February 1946 and in 1947 to the Supreme Soviet of Ukrainian SSR; complete encompassing of youth in Soviet organizations; and the collectivization of agriculture.

Large population transfers in the history of the USSR was nothing new. Man-made famine of 1932-33 and the arrests and deportations during the collectivization drive are too well known to recounting here. The deportations in the period of 1939-40 in the Baltic regions and in Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia are also known as are forcible deportations of entire nations during 1944. In 1945-46 the so called voluntary exchange of populations with Poland allowed the Soviets to carry out another large scale deportation of western Ukrainians to Eastern Ukraine or to Siberia. The return of millions of Ukrainian slave laborers from Germany also provided an opportunity for major population shifts. in place of deported Ukrainians a large number of people from the eastern regions of the USSR entered Western Ukraine and settled primarily in its urban centers. The newly resettled people who found themselves in a new environment were much easier to control than the lical population and provided another opportunity for the exploitation of social cleavages that inevitable rose to the surface in such situations. 32

The campaign against the Ukrainian churches and in particular against the Ukrainian Catholic Church and as its aim not only the liquidation of the church but the undermining of Ukrainian nationalism. The hierarchy, priests and the religious were arrested, accused of collaboration with the Germans and sentenced to die a slow death in the concentration camps. The more pliable elements were forcibly incorporated into the Russian Orthodox Church by the actions of an illegally and incannonically constituted Synod and the terrorist tactics of the NKVD. In this fashion the Ukrainian population was deprived of the leadership that in addition to spiritual guidance provided it also with political direction in the crucial periods of its history. 33

The elections of 1946/1947 and the blockade of the villages were again the period of intense political activity. 34 Even though results of the elections were a foregone conclusion in order to achieve the 100 per cent support from the population, the electoral officials had to stuff the ballot boxes themselves. According to underground estimates in some localities about 75 per cent of eligible voters refused to participate in the elections.

There is no doubt that the elections were viewed by the Soviet leadership as a major test on how much influence and control they were able to exercise over the rebellious population. The results were not very encouraging for them and during 1946 and even more during 1947 the efforts to break the back of the underground which was blamed for this state of affairs continued in full force. 35

During this entire period attempts to do away with privately owned farms were also continued unabated. These efforts intensified as the Soviets were able gradually to regain control over the countryside. Finally by 1950 with the help of all kinds of pressure tactics, terror and intimidation the Western Ukrainian peasantry was forced into the collective farms. 36

The Soviets also succeeded by 1949 to include almost all children and young people in their youth organizations, the Octoborists, Pioneers and the Komsomol. 37


Intelligence measures.

Acquisition of information about the Ukrainian liberation movement was for the Soviets a matter of the highest priority. Already in the early 1940s when the groundwork was being laid for the Soviet partisan activities behind the German lines, the collection of information about the Ukrainian nationalists, the setting up of the network of agents and attempts to penetrate the underground ranks are rather well documented in the underground materials. 38

the operations of the Red Partisans in Volyn region and the Carpathian Raid by Kovpak's forces should also be considered at least partially as important moves to test the strength, vitality and resolve of the Ukrainian movement. It was, therefore, not very surprising that upon re conquest of Western Ukraine the Soviet intelligence operations were much improved and the efforts to penetrate the underground greatly intensified.

The secret instructions by the First Secretary of the Volyn Obkom, which probably resembles similar instructions in other regions, placed a very strong emphasis on the need to organized improve the work of the "Special Network" 39 and provided a detailed guidance on measures to be used in "direct liquidation of armed bands and of the administrative network of the OUN". 40

The recruitment decisions and general control over the agents was to rest in the hands of the party secretaries of the Obkom. On the lower level only the Raikom First Secretaries were to be intimately involved in this process. The Obkom was also responsible for the remuneration of agents and the special bonuses awarded to them for exceptionally good work. The same functionaries were also made responsible for assessing and verifying of the acquired information and for "actions" (arrests, deportations, punishment) resulting therefrom. 41

In addition to this secret network of agents ("SEKSOTY"), a number of open groups were also to be set up usually under the command of the "operational specialists" ("operativniki") from the NKGB and the NKVD 42

The Village Self-defense and the Search and Destroy units (Istrebiteli) were to be supplemented by the Raiotedel NKVD/NKGB fighting groups each composed of 6 to 10 men and numbering from 3 to 4 detachments per Raion. 43 The need to recruit into these groups the "bandits who came out of hiding" was especially strongly recommended. 44

As well the so called "raiding units" were organized which were composed of party members, better fighters from among the "Istrebiteli" and the "operativniki" from the NKGB/NKVD. 45 For these groups each one from 10-15 men strong special tactics were worked out, they were assigned to specific localities and were required to operate in those areas day and night.

Finally the raiding groups composed of the NKVD internal troops and in the border areas of the border guards units were to be supplemented with better "operativniki" who were placed in charge of these units. 46

Thus while the overall supervision rested with the party itself the operational side was in the hands of the NKGB/NKVD functionaries. It was they who were responsible for working out a systematic plan for both the obvert and the covert activities aimed at the underground.

Although the operational details were absent from the secret instructions of the party they could not remain hidden for very long form the underground leadership. In fact, in order to alert the underground administrative network and the UPA units about the dangers of possible enemy penetration a series of detailed guidelines were issued outlining the Soviet intelligence activities. 47 There also exists a number of very objective studies of Soviet counterinsurgency measures by various functionaries of the underground security service, the SB. 48 Some of theses materials make it possible for us to touch in a very superficial manner on the activities of such Soviet institutions as the NKGB/NKVD (later on MGB/MVD and subsequently the KGB), SMERSH, and the GRU.

A method widely practiced was to arrest and rearrest as many people as possible, to interrogate them often with the help of torture, try to recruit them as agents, to force them to sign a document of cooperation and then to release them. 49 Not all who signed such documents became active agents but at least at the beginning such Soviet tactics created a great deal of difficulty for the underground security service which was unable to investigate or to keep under observation all of the reported cases. These tactics also allowed the Soviets to keep in touch with their agents almost at will while the underground was in danger of starting a massive internal struggle if they moved carelessly against all those whom the Soviet released from jail. 50

Another method was to arrange escapes of their own agents from the hands of the Soviet security organs usually in front of witnesses and in a very convincing manner. 51

Still another method used was to send the well trained Soviet agents as "deserters" from the Red Army who would then join the UPA or the underground network. 52 In many cases these deserters were Eastern Ukrainians and their eventual discovery or a redirection was probably calculated to create a great deal of suspicion in the ranks of the underground towards the easterners in general who by the end of the war were found in various important positions in the liberation movement. 53

Provocations were also widely practiced as the means for demoralizing the population ad turning it away from supporting the underground. Deserters from the underground were often used for this work. 54

The amnesties (there were at least 18 of them), population transfers and the large movement of people in connection with the returnees of slave laborers from Germany provided still another opportunity for infiltration.

Some of these agents would remain inactive for a very long time and would begin to function only after they succeeded in gaining confidence of the underground leadership and its security service. Even then the transmittal of information would e carefully arranged via the so called " regents", i.e. the agents who never collected information themselves. The "regents" were recruited form among the persons whose activities provided for the maximum contact with the population such as the mail carriers, physicians or even priests. 55

The international aspect of the problem also deserves some mention. Although almost completely unexplored in the scholarly literature there are tantalizing hints in various publications that the Soviet moles in the heart of western intelligence agencies may have provided the Kremlin with enough of important information to allow it to use more effective counterinsurgency measurers. Kim Philby and his colleagues, it seems, might have played an important role in helping the soviets to contain the activities of the Ukrainian movement at home and abroad. 56

On March 5, 1950, the Soviets succeeded in locating the bunker of the top leader of the Ukrainian liberation movement, the Chairman of the General Secretariat of the Supreme Ukrainian Liberation Council and the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgence Army (UPS), Gen. Roman Shukhevych (Taras Chuprynka), and killed him. His place was taken by Col. Vasyl Kuk (Koval) who continued to lead the movement until his capture in mysterious circumstances either in 1954 or 1955. he survived and now lives in Kiev. It appears, however, that after Chuprynka's death the underground activities began to wind down and by the middle 1950s ceased to exist as an organized movement.

Thus after long years of very difficult struggle against two powerful opponents - the Nazis and the Soviets - many of the underground cadres, some on orders from their superiors, some on their own, decided to leave the underground and to legalize their existence. No doubt some betrayed their cause and went over to the Soviet side. But the majority either died in the struggle or were captured only to spend the rest of their lives in Soviet fails and the concentration camps. But even in those circumstances they continued to fight for justice and dignity to the bitter end. We now know that the rebellions in the Soviet GULAGS in most cases were organized and led by former members of the Ukrainian and the Lithuanian liberation movements.


This survey of Soviet counter insurgency measures in Ukraine must remain general and incomplete. What is offered here is based on fragmentary evidence with an attempt to present only one side of the story, namely the selective Soviet tactics against the Ukrainian resistance. To understand, however, why it took the Soviets more than a decade to subdue the Ukrainians it is necessary to study the organization, ideology and tactics of the Ukrainian liberation movement.


  1. The prevailing opinion in the West the this move was an attempt to gain additional votes for the USSR in the UN as hardly convincing in view of the fact that the USSR was willing to agree to the principle of multi-membership for the united States and Great Britain.
  2. See: P. J. Potichnyj, "The UPA and the German Authorities", a paper presented at the conference on the History of Ukrainian-German Relations, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, October 1986; For a German assessment of he UPA see: UPA v svitli nimets'kykh dokumentiv. Knyha persha: 1942-cherven' 1944 and Knyha druha: cherven' 1944 - kviten' 1945. Litopys UPA, VI-VII, Toronto,
  3. Both of these volumes contain original German documents and their resumes in English and Ukrainian.
  4. See: P. J. Potichnyj, "The UPA..."; See also: Yury Boshyk, Ukraine During World War II: History and Its Aftermath. Edmonton, 1986.
  5. See: "Karpats'kyi reid" in Ukrains'ka Radians'ka Entsyklopedia, VI, Kiev, 1961, pp. 215-216 and in Radians'ka Entsyklopeia Istorii Ukrainy, II, Kiev, 1970, pp. 314-315; See also S. Kovpak, Vid Putyvlia do Karpat, Kiev, 1946;
  6. Rubnev, Lehendarnyi reid. Uzhhorod, 1967 and the literature cited there.
  7. See: John A. Armstrong, Soviet Partisans in World War II, Madison, 1964; His, Ukrainian Nationalism, Littleton, 1980; Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945: A Study of Occupation Policies. New York, 1982.
  8. For example in April 1944 near Hruby in the Kremianets' region a three-day battle was fought with the UPA employing some 30000 regular Soviet troops. See: M. Prokop and Ie. Shtendera, "Ukrainins'ka Povstans'ka Armiia", Entsyklopediia Ukrainoznavstva, IX, 1980, p. 3379; Also in the Romaniv forest, Bibrka region a big clash took place between he Red Army and the UPA. The UPA then operated in the detachments of about 1000 men. Both sides suffered heavy casualties. The UPA had 113 killed and 81 wounded, while the Soviets and 835 men killed. Arkhive Misii UPA pry ZP UHVR, XIV, 14, p. 2, henceforth referred to as AMUPA.
  9. M. Prokop and Ie. Shtendera, p. 3379.
  10. AMUPA, XIV, 15, p. 1.
  11. See: "Protokolyi zvit iz t. zv. bolkady viiskamy NKVD Halyts'koho raionu za chas vid 16. VII. -2. IX. 1945. AMUPA, XIV, 26, pp. 1-2.
  12. See: AMUPA, XIV, 26, pp. 1-2, AMUPA, XIV, 24, pp. 1-15; AMUPA, XIV, 25, p.1.
  13. See: AMUPA, XIV, 15, p. 1. In one report from the region of Stanislaviv (Ivano Frankivs'k) the following counterinsurgency measures are listed: massive village and forest sweeps; unexpected hit and run operations on specific targets; raids - a specific detachment or detachments are constantly on the move in the terrain; deportation of whole villages; individual and mass arrests; interrogations with the use of force; beatings; searches; pillage and confiscation of property; destruction of houses of the suspected individuals; use of various provocations. See; AMUPA, XIV, 24, 1-15; Similar actions were taking place in other areas of Western Ukraine such as Sambir-AMUPA, XIV, 25, p. 1; Staryi Sambir and Dobromyl-AMUPA, XIV, 27, pp. 1-4; Tovmach-AMUPA, XIV, 28, pp. 1-4 etc.
  14. See: "Ocherednye zadachi po selakh", AMUPA, XIII, B-2.
  15. See: Ibid., pp. 1-2.
  16. The existing situation in various area of Western Ukraine in 1949-1950 can be deduced from the following underground reports:

Ostrovets'kyi raion, Rivne oblast, Volyn, 1949;

This raion of 40 villages is patrolled by a detachment of 50 MGB troops who are stationed in the raion center. They constantly move in groups of 8-10 persons. for larger actions the entire group is supplemented by about 40-50 persons detachment from the oblast. They make searches day and night, make arrests etc.

In raion center there is also a group of MVD troops. Although different from MGB very often they carry out joint operations.

The raion center also has a separate detachment of militia from 30-50 persons not counting the Uchastkovye who reside in each village.

In each village there exist the collective farm guards and "strybki".

there is also a secret network of informers ("SEKSOTY") in each locality.

All soviet functionaries that come into the village are always armed.

Their tactics are to set up listening posts in the villages and around them, ambushes, and to carry out raids, searches, arrests, and deportation of people to Siberia (AMUPA, VI, 11, pp. 1-3).

Bolekhiv raion, 1949: "American parachutists" were dropped on May 31, 1950 near the village of Taniava. As a result large sweeps of the forests were undertaken. (Ibid., p. 8). There are 5 operational groups from 10-15 persons each. They move constantly and carry out searches,, ambushes and arrests. Arrested individuals are quite often forced to sign cooperation statements and then are released.

In the 4th quarter of 1949 there are 6 operational groups from 10-15 persons each. More attention again is being paid by them to forests.

In the raion center there is a permanent garrison of 220 MVD troops.

In village Hoshiv is a garrison of 24 MGB troops guarding the railroad bridges. (Ibid., pp. 1-3).

Drohobysh raion, 2nd quarter 1950:

The pressure on the underground is even stronger now than in the past. In all villages are stationed special MVD or MGB troops, while in some which are suspect in harboring the underground, as many as three. (Ibid., p. 4).

In the spring under our pressure many "Strybki" groups ceased to exist. The Soviets immediately brought in large detachments of MVD troops and began to organize these groups anew. But now not only groups for the security of collective farms are being set up but also for the bridges. (Ibid., p. 3).

Kalush region, 2nd quarter 1950:

The number of soldiers in the spetsgroups was increased to 20 persons. he commanding personnel is almost entirely new and composed of young officers. The MGB school for NCOs in Pidhirky has 250 candidates. (Ibid., p. 7). The MVD detachment in the raion center stands at 300 persons. (Ibid.). The number of "Strybki" groups has markedly increased. Until now they existed in only four villages but now all villages have them. The are always organized in a set manner. At first the group is composed of 2-3 individuals who are not lical residents and them others are forced to join. (Ibid., p. 2).

Perehinsk raion, 1st quarter 1950:

Perehinsk - 40 MVD troops, security of the raion center,

Perehinsk - 40 MVD troops, a spetsgrup.

Perehinsk - 60 MVD troops,

Perehinsk - 16 Militia members,

Perehinsk - 11 Raion MGB personnel,

Iasen - 25 MVD troops,

Nebyliv - 17 "Strybki", security of the collective farm

Posich - 4 "Strybki", security of the bakery,

Zakernychne-8 MVD troops, security of the bridge,

Osmoloda - 6 MVD troops, security of the bridge,

Slobida N. - 13 "Strybki", security of the collective farm,

Sloboda N. - 25 MVD troops, security of the oil refinery,

Svarychiv - 7 "Strybki", security of the bridge,

Svarychiv - 9 "Strybki", security of the collective farm,

(Ibid., p. 5)

Turka raion:

In each village have recently been organized groups of 20-30 persons to watch for the "spies". (Ibid., p. 5).

Sambir region: lately the "Strybki" are being used very effectively against the underground. (Ibid., p. 3)

On May 31, 1950, near village Taniava, Bolekhiv raion were dropped "American parachutists". As a result large sweeps of the forests and the terrain were launched. (Ibid., p. 8).

Bibrka raion, 3d quarter 1949:"

Large sweeps of the area undertaken and many people forcibly deported to Siberia.( Ian, AMUPA, VI, 14, pp. 1-9).

See also: Bystra, Metody borot'by bolshevukiv z namy i nasha protydiia, AMUPA, VI, 29, pp. 1-7; See also: Appendix I and II.

16 See: A document obtained by the underground contains secret directives from July 31, 1945, by N. S. Khrushchev, them the Chairman of the Ukrainian Sovnarkom, and Korotchenko the Secretary CPbUkraine, on the harvesting and delivery of grain in serious economic problems that existed in the enterprises of that region. "O nedostatkakh v provedenii uborki urozhaia zernovykh kultur v kolkhozakh i sovkhozakh USSR", AMUPA, XIII, B-1.

17 See: AMUPA, XIII, B-2: It should be made clear that all soviet and Party administrative organs were staffed by the Russians, eastern Ukrainians or other nationalities and not by local Ukrainians.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid.

27 There are a number of reports by the underground physicians and the officials of the underground Red Cross (U. Ch. Kh. - Ukrainian Red Cross) that the Soviets were distributing to the population contaminated medicines and spreading various contagious diseases. M. Prokop and Ie. Shtendera, ibid., p. 3379.

28 AMUPA, XIII, B-2, p. 3.

29 Ibid. p. 3.

30 Ibid. p. 1.

31 Confiscations, pillage and pilfering of food, clothing, household implements, poultry, and even of cattle and horses was widely reported in the underground documents. See: AMUPA, XIV, 24, pp. 13-14; AMUPA, XIV, 30, p. 6.

32 On the deportation of Ukrainians from Poland see: P. J. Potichnyj, "Akcja Wisla", a paper presented at the Oxford Conference on Forcible Transfers of Populations During and After W.W.II", March 1987.

33 See: B. R. Bociurkiw, Ukrainian Churches Under Soviet Rule: Two Case Studies. Harvard, 1984; I. Hvat, The Catacomb Ukrainian Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II. Harvard, 1984; V. Markus, Religion and Nationalism in Soviet Ukraine After 1945. Harvard, 1985; f. E. Sysyn, "The Ukrainian Orthodox Question in the USSR", Religion in Communist Lands, XI, 3, 1983, pp. 261-263.

34 Many underground reports give detailed descriptions of these elections. See AMUPA, VIII, 1-10, AMUPA, XIV, 9, pp. 1-2.

35 See: Stoyar (Yaroslav Starukh), Elections in the USSR, 1947, p. 19 /US National Archives, Record Group 319, ID File No. 356391/, claimed that in some regions only 10 per cent of the voters actually cast their ballots. See also: Protokol z bolkady i vuboriv v s. Kluziv, Stanyslaviv, AMUPA, VIII, 1, pp. 1-4; Pidpechary, Stanyslaviv, Ibid., pp. 1-8; Hlebivka, Bohorodchans'kyi raion , Stanyslaviv, Ibid., pp. 1-3; Koloduivtsi, Stanyslaviv, ibid., 1, pp. 1-5; Ostriv, Stanyslaviv, Ibid., 6, pp. 1-9. Bolshevyts'ki vybory, AMUPA, XIV, 9, pp. 1-3, describes in detail the activities of the Soviets and the counteraction of the underground. See also: Report on elections in village Stari Bohorodchany, Stanyslaviv AMUPA, VIII, 10, pp. 1-2.

Similar political action was conducted in connection with the elections to the Supreme Soviet of Ukrainian SSR on Feb. 9, 1947. The report from Kimarno raion describes it in detail. The use of garrisons, raids of the spetsgrups, and the NKVD units. Constant mass rallies which were forced on the population etc. Berkut, Zvit pro vybory do VR USSR 9. II. 1947, AMUPA, VII, 11, pp. 1-27.

In the preelection period the counterinsurgency activity of the NKVD was very high. Continuous ambushes, unexpected raids, nightly searches and interrogations of the population , were all designed to frighten and to terrorize the population. Ibid., pp. 3-4.

At the time of elections there were in the villages many Ukrainian peasants fro the starving eastern regions who were begging for bread. To force them to vote, their documents were confiscated and not returned until they actually cast their ballots. Ibid., p. 5.

Large scale arrests on the day of elections have also been described in detail. See: Berkut, Horodok, AMUPA, VIII, 11, pp. 28-41 and especially pp. 33-34. He also provides a summary of election results for the Horodok raion; See: Appendix III.

36 See: David Marples, The Collectivization of Agriculture in West Ukraine, 1944-1951 (Ph. D. dissertation. 1983), and his "Khrushchev, Kaganovich, and the Ukrainian Crisis", Journal of Ukrainian Studies, IX, 1, 1984, pp. 55-70; Stoyar, New Famine Catastrophe in Ukraine, 1947, pp. 1-43, US National Archives, Record Group 319, ID File.

37 For Volyn region see: AMUPA, VI, 9, p. 1; Ibid., 10, pp. 1-2; for Galicia see: AMUPA, VI, 6; Ibid., 9, pp. 104. In certain regions, however a great deal of resistance continued in opposition to these organizational efforts. For example in Bolkhiv region and in some Carpathian regions., Ibid., 9, pp. 2-5.

38 The best collection of sources in found in the Archives of the ZPUHVR; AMUPA; and in the published materials of the underground. See: Ie. Shtendera and P. J. Potichnyj, Eds. Litopys UPA, Vols. 1-14, Toronto, 1947-1987.

39 AMUPA, XIII, B-2, p.2

40 Ibid. p. 2.

41 Ibid. p. 2.

42 Ibid. p. 2.

43 Ibid. p. 2.

44 Ibid. p. 2.

45 Ibid. p. 2.

46 ibid., p. 2; See V. A. Matrosov, Ed., Pogranichnye voiska SSSR, mai 1945-1950: Sbornik dokumentov i materoalov. Moscow, 1975.

47 The overall scheme of the Soviet intelligence apparatus was well known to the underground. See: Skheme perehliadu diievykh stanyts' soviets'koii tainoii sluzhby, AMUPA, I, 9; SMERSH, AMUPA, I, 11; Milittary intelligence, AMUPA, I; 12-14; See also: instruktsii, AMUPA, XIV, 3.

48 See: Bystra, AMUPA, VI, 29; Polozhennia na Ukraini v 1945 rotsi", AMUPA, IV, 3; Stan na Zakhidno-Ukrains'kykh zemliakh, AMUPA, XIV, 23, etc.

49 See: Vidpys zoboviazannia zakladnykiv pro spivpratsiu z orhanamy NKVD, 1945, AMUPA, VII; 11, # 9; See also: Sambir, 1945, AMUPA, XIV, 15, p. 1; AMUPA, IX, p. 2; AMUPA, XIV, 30, p. 3.

50 Usually the first days in the blockaded village would be used for preliminary searches as a pretext for contacting the clandestine agents and the informers. Only afterwards real searches would be conducted and arrests made and interrogations conducted. AMUPA, IX, p. 4.

51 There were reported cases when Soviet soldiers or even officers were killed during such "escapes". Latterly the investigations recalled that some of these individuals were the condemned convicted dressed in soldiers uniforms and sacrificed in an attempt to infiltrate the underground.

52 Gen. P. I. Ivashutin who was chief of SMERSH on the 3d Ukrainian Front in 1944-45, and later on was appointed the chief of GRU was reported as being especially fond of such tactics.

53 At least one report clearly state that the tragedy for the UPA were the easterners who were sent there as alleged deserters from the Red Army. This proved to be a rather successful Soviet intelligence operation. S-33, 1946, AMUPA, XIV, 23, p. 8.

54 See: AMUPA, XIV, 28, p. 1 ; AMUPA, XIV, 24, pp. 12-13. Various spetsgrups pretending to be the UPA and behaving in the most brutal fashion with the population was another widely used tactic. AMUPA, VI, 1, pp. 27-32; AMUPA, XIV, 30, p. 3; AMUPA XIV, 31, p.3; AMUPA, XIV, 25, p.4.

55 See: Bystra, AMUPA, VI, 29.

56 Soviet publications are full of accusations against the Ukrainian underground for its contacts with the western intelligence agencies. The courier lives to the west which did exist to keep contact between the underground leadership in Ukraine and its foreign representatives in Western Germany have been discussed among others in Polish and Czech publications. See: A. B. Szczesniak and V. Z. Szota, Droga do nikad. Warsaw, 1973; F. Kaucky and L. Vandurek, Ve znameni trojzubce, Praha, 1965; See also: Kim Philby, My Silent War, New York, 1968; H. Rositzke, The CIA's Secret Operations: Espionage, Counter espionage, and Covert Action, new York, 1977, pp. 33, 36, 168-169; and his The KGB: The Eyes of Russia, new York, 1981, pp. 97, 101-104, 108 136, 252-256, 268; For the killing by the KGB of Stepan Bandera and Lev Rebet see: Meskovski vbybtsi Bandery pered sudom and S. Mechnyk, Vid oprychchyny do KGB: dukhovist' moskovs'koho imperializmu, Munich, 1981, pp. 282-293; For courier centers and the contacts of the Ukrainian underground with selected Western embassies in Warsaw see: Litopys UPA, XVI, (forthcoming).

Appendix I

Actions of Ukrainian Underground in 1948-1949


Type of

Actions J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J TOTAL


Actions 97 84 73 117 81 69 111 114 117 75 71 73 57 42 34 30 30 28 1303

Sabotage 4 9 16 48 27 43 43 138 61 15 35 19 37 27 13 7 37 13 592


& 3 - 9 3 2 1 5 2 1 2 2 - 1 2 2 1 3 26 65


Total 104 93 98 168 110 113 159 254 179 92 108 92 95 71 49 38 70 67 1960

Source: Biuro Informatsii UHVR, 1948-1950 as complied by S. Danyliuk in Do zbroii, 19(32), June 1953, pp. 7-10; See also: Litopys UPA, IX-X for verification of the above data. This information in very incomplete as the available archival sources clearly show. A complete count was never made and probably is not possible given the circumstances, but with the help of computers this information can be greatly improved.

Appendix II

Soviet and Ukrainian Losses

January 1948 - June 1949

1948/1949 J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J Total


MVD/MGB 81 162 107 48 44 31 46 64 38 29 38 15 28 24 14 21 43 29 862

Party +

Strybki 6 6 12 27 24 15 17 34 20 19 11 16 14 6 8 2 14 10 261



MVD/MGB 29 22 64 20 36 17 13 23 20 11 13 14 12 12 -- 18 14 6 344

Party +

Strybki 3 1 5 6 4 5 6 8 9 -- 1 -- 2 1 1 3 - 1 56



UPA 22 36 12 12 -- 4 4 4 5 10 9 4 6 8 12 2 5 2 157


ground 21 19 30 20 15 14 15 13 20 9 12 37 22 20 13 11 -- 4 295



UPA 1 2 -- 2 -- -- -- 1 -- 2 1 -- 1 1 -- -- -- -- 11


ground 2 1 -- 2 1 1 2 2 -- -- 2 -- -- -- 1 1 -- 1 16


Source: Biuro Informatsii UHVR, 1948-1950 as complied by S. Danyliuk , ibid., pp. 7-10. The largest number of operations occurred in Stanyslaviv, followed by Drohobych, Ternopil, Lviv, Rivne and Volyn Oblasts. Ibid., p. 8.

Appendix III

Summary of 1947 Elections

Horodok Raion

Village Elig. to VoteVoters Nonvoters

Nezabytivka 1450 300 1150

Volchukhy 541 48 493

Tuchapy 1035 28 1010

Lisnovychi 569 0 0

Richichany 823 15 808

Dobrostany 836 0 0

Bila Hora 266 12 254

Volia Dobrostan 555 6 549

Velykopole 778 5 773

Tsuniv-Zusychi 740 14 726

Kamenobrid 436 11 425

Zatoka 184 0 0

Storona 307 23 274

Malchytsi 1000 450 550

Mshana 1206 22 1184

Vorotsiv 950 42 908

Sukhovola 725 18 707

Zaluzhe 178 1 177

Porichchia 387 2 385

Otradch 589 423 166

Karachyniv 439 395 44

Altogether only about 16.6 per cent of the electorate went to the polls but even some of them were doing it under pressure.

Source: AMUPA, VIII, 11, p. 41.

[Return to Main Page]
Return to Main Page.

e-mail: upa@infoukes.com
© 1997-2000 Litopys UPA
P.O. Box 97, Station"C"
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6J 3M7

since Apr 13th 1997