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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June, 2007

THE NATIONALISM CASE. FOLDER 57. THE CHEKIST ANTHOLOGY.

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    In this entry, Mitrokhin expresses the KGB’s views on the threat of organized oppositionist nationalism within the Soviet bloc.
    "The Nationalism Case. Folder 57. The Chekist Anthology.," June, 2007, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Contributed to CWIHP by Vasili Mitrokhin. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110788
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[Translation unavailable. See original. Detailed summary below.]

In this entry, Mitrokhin expresses the KGB's views on the threat of organized oppositionist nationalism within the Soviet bloc.

According to the KGB, nationalist groups usually unite their members by embracing common goals and ideologies. Mitrokhin cites the KGB's belief that nationalist forces abide by strict codes of organization, discipline, purpose, and conspiratorial obligation. Nationalist groups often attract young undergraduate and graduate college students--particularly those intellectuals inclined toward artistic self-expression. Mitrokhin then gives an overview of certain prominent nationalist groups active in Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Armenia.

The entry initially describes the Ukrainian Nationalist Organization (OUN), whose anti-USSR activities in the Lvov oblast were discovered by the KGB in 1961. Members of the OUN attempted to steer Ukraine toward autonomy from the USSR and to form an independent Ukrainian Republic. Drawing upon the KGB files, Mitrokhin states that none of the OUN members apprehended and interrogated by the KGB in labor camps confessed to having actively participated in the struggle to achieve Ukrainian independence. The document subsequently notes that in 1962 alone, 23.8% of all Soviet undergraduate and graduate students maintained some kind of membership in nationalist groups. KGB sources indicate that given their broad intellectual horizons, highly educated individuals are often unable to communicate their ideas within the strict bounds of Leninism and consequently seek other channels, such as nationalism, to express their dissatisfaction.

The document continues to discuss nationalism in the USSR by introducing the "Ellipse," a group of young writers and scientists in Tartu, Estonia. The Ellipse was dedicated to "finding a balance between Marxism and Western ideology," as well as linking Estonia's culture to the West. Along with the Ellipse, Estonia also boasted the Free Estonian Youth, an organization which aimed to recruit new members (particularly 18-23 year olds), buy arms, spread anti-Soviet literature, drive out the ethnic Russian population, and create an independent Estonian Republic. In Moldova, as in Estonia, anti-Russian sentiment also spurred multiple nationalist organizations whose attitudes were often channeled through local institutions of higher learning, radio and television personalities, and cultural icons.

The hub of nationalist movements in the USSR, according to KGB tenets, seemed to be Ukraine. From 1965-66 the KGB infiltrated a group calling itself DOR "88." The primary purpose of the DOR was to fight for the official recognition of Ukraine's language and culture, as well as to achieve autonomy from the Soviet sphere. In Kyiv, the KGB sanctioned the editors of the academic journal "Vitchizna" (issue No.12, 1966), whose publication of a novel titled "Gordina" by Yaroslav Stupaka, exhibited signs of harmful nationalist ideology through certain passages, poetic verses, and religious references.

With regards to the Caucasus, the entry describe the forces of organized nationalism in Yerevan, Armenia where by 1966 an illicit faction called the Armenian Youth Soviet, founded by five undergraduate history students at the Armenian State University, boasted upwards of forty members. Moreover, the Dashnaks--probably the most potent nationalist party in Armenia--repeatedly called for Armenia's independence in spite of official state sanctions. In Azerbaijan, an organization called the Struggle for Azerbaijani Independence sought to achieve autonomy and national recognition for the Azeri people by following the Yugoslav example. The Baltic republics, also contained their share of organized nationalism. From 1967-1968, the KGB uncovered twenty-five Lithuanian nationalist groups which consisted of dozens of anti-Russian ideologues who sought to drive Lithuania toward the path of independence. The entry mentions that between 1964 and 1968, the number of nationalist groups in Ukraine, Armenia, Latvia, and Lithuania doubled. In 1968, the Ukrainian Nationalist Organization (OUN) hosted its Fourth Great Meeting at which members established a consistent plan aimed at implementing nationalist tenets. One of the nationalists, Gorbovoii, asserted that "the era of fighting for Ukraine's autonomy via the use of force and arms is over; the time has come to shrewdly infiltrate major Soviet positions in government, manufacturing, transportation, and education--thus eliminating USSR's influence in Ukraine by destabilizing the system from within." Mitrokhin concludes his entry by listing a number of prominent nationalist dissidents in Armenia, Ukraine, and Lithuania.



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