Ovsiienko Vasyl Vasyliovych (b. 8 April 1949, Lenine village (Stavky village nowadays), Radomyshl district in Zhytomyr region).
Ukrainian dissident, underground press and human rights movements representative, member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group.
Vasyl Ovsiienko joined the dissident movement while studying at the Faculty of Philology at Kyiv State University. He started from the "samizdat" distribution, – for example, in 1968, he made several photocopies of Ivan Dziuba's work "Internationalism or Russification?", and in 1972 he helped Vasyl Lisovy and Yevhen Proniuk with publishing the "Kyiv" issue of "Ukrainsky Visnyk".
He was arrested on 5 March 1973 for "anti-Soviet campaigning and propaganda", and, at the end of that same year, was sentenced to four years in maximum security penal colonies. He was in Mordovian camps, where took an active part in protests. In 1976, having been subjected to a "preventive inspection" at the Kyiv KGB, he didn't plead guilty. After the release, he kept the correspondence with other political prisoners, and wrote for "Khronika Tekushchikh Sobytiy". For this, he was reminded by the prosecutor's office about the criminal liability. In 1978, he applied for a permit to leave the country, but wasn't granted it.
On 18 November 1978, Vasyl Ovsiienko was arrested by the police for being visited by a Ukrainian Helsinki Group member Oksana Meshko. Having suffered from a police officer's abuse, he sued the latter, but was charged with violent resistance instead. On 8 February 1979, he was sentenced to three years behind the bars, and served this term in Zaporizhia and Zhytomyr regions.
Imprisoned, he refused to testify against other Ukrainian dissidents, and the KGB pressured him. For his refusal to cooperate he received 10 years in camps and five years in exile (this term he served in Kuchyno in Perm region, and at Vsekhsviatska station). In 1988, he was pardoned without any motions and specially convoyed to Zhytomyr region.
In September of the same year he became a member of the Coordination Council of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union, and later founded and developed the Ukrainian Republican Party actively. Since 1990 he has been a co-chairman of the "Helsinki-90" Ukrainian Committee. Vasyl Ovsiienko also participated actively in Vasyl Stus, Oleksa Tykhyi, and Yurii Lytvyn's reburial in November 1989. Starting from 1998, he has been coordinating the program of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, adding to their electronic archive information and materials about the former political prisoners. He is one of the members of the Council of the Museum of the History of Political Repression Perm-36, and a member of the board of the non-governmental organization "Solovetsk Brotherhood" International Association. He is the Vasyl Stus Prize (2000), the Ivan Ogienko Prize (2006), and the International Literature Prize of the Voskobiynyk Family Foundation (2006) awardee. He also received several state orders.
He lives and works in Kyiv.
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