The Cross of Symon Petliura – to Chaplains of the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic


In the archival funds of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, there are merit certificates to the Cross of Simon Petlyura for chaplains of the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic, who were awarded this high decoration as participants in the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921 “for participation in the armed struggle for the Statehood of Ukraine under the supreme leadership of Chief Otaman Symon Petliura”. These documents make it possible to supplement the existing general register of awardees and learn more about their fate.

According to archival documents, in June 1944, in the Rivne Rybtrest (fish farm- Transl.), in one of the desk drawers, employees found two merit certificates to the Cross of Symon Petliura, mentioning who, when and for what was awarded. Thick sheets of forms with a trident, an original red seal and the phrase “In the name of the Ukrainian People's Republic...” could not help drawing attention and alarming. The find was immediately shown to the management of the enterprise, and therefore there was no other choice but to report this event to the Directorate of the nkgb of the Ukrainian ssr in Rivne region. Otherwise, for hiding such information, one could be put on the list of untrustworthy.

At that time, Rivne region had already been liberated from the Nazi occupying forces. The local administration and the nkgb took up the active checking of all residents who had been in the occupied territory, as well as seeking and liquidating the Ukrainian underground, which had been resisting both soviet authorities and German invaders. Before the Chekists’s eyes there already loomed a prospect of finding out an anti-soviet organization of former Petliurists on the fish farm.

The found documents with corresponding accompanying letters were sent to Kyiv to the 4th Directorate of the nkgb of the Ukrainian ssr, whose officers immediately decided to forward them to moscow directly to the head of the 4th directorate of the nkgb of the ussr, Pavel Sudoplatov. But at this stage, the republican leadership understands that there is still nothing to boast. Therefore, the resolution indicated the need to check the “awarded”, to include them in the current accounting records and to study the situation on the fish farm itself.

According to the merit certificates, the awarded were the military government officer Ivan Syrotenko (decoration No. 1167) and Poruchnyk (Lieutenant- Transl.) Andriy Dubynovskyi (No. 2825). The date of the award was August 6, 1942. That is, ten years after the approval of the award “The Cross of Symon Petliura” (May 22, 1932 – on the occasion of S. Petliura's birthday) and six years after the first awarding (May 10, 1936).

In the founding documents of this award, which later received the name “The Order of Symon Petliura” and the status of the highest state award of the Government of the Ukrainian People's Republic in exile, it was noted that in order to receive it, a questionnaire was first filled out. It indicated the surname, first name and patronymic name, place of birth, date of entry into the Army, name of the unit, institution or rebel unit, a list of battles and operations with dates, surnames of commanders, the last unit before retiring, the surnames of at least two commanders or comrades-in-arms who could confirm the words, whether he was convicted (with reason), current profession or work, address of residence. In addition to military personnel, clergymen, doctors, government officials, nurses of military units and rear organizations of the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the Ministry of Military Affairs of the Ukrainian People's Republic could also receive the Cross of Symon Petliura.

Awarding took place both in the interwar period and during the Second World War. At that time, the awardees were the persons who survived the repressions and participated in the struggle on the side of the Ukrainian People's Republic in 1917–1921. The dates on the documents found confirm this. At the same time, further study of archival materials and open sources made it possible to find out some unknown pages of this story.

During the investigation, the chekists could not collect any information about the persons mentioned in the letters. It was also established the awardees had never worked on the Rivne fish farm. And the desk in which the papers were found was given to the fish farm from the regional department of finance. But nothing was found there either. Therefore, further searches were stopped.

Today, we have the following information about the awardees.

Syrotenko Ivan Hnatovych appears in modern reference books as a clergyman of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, a Chaplain of the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic. He was born in 1886 in the village of Zagrody of Kholm povit, Lublin voivodeship, Poland. A graduate of the Hlukhiv Teacher's Institute (1915) and the Kyiv Commercial Institute. Since 1919, he had been supporting the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic. In 1921–1922, he was a Chaplain of the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic. He served as a clergyman of the UAOC in the village of Zaborol, Rivne region. Before the arrest, he lived in the village of Sadiv, Torchyn district, Volyn region. He had a wife and two daughters.

He was arrested on August 8, 1940. He was under investigation in the city of Rivne. He was accused of trying to illegally cross the state border. Convicted by a special meeting of the nkvd of the ussr to seven years in labor camps. He served his sentence in “karlag”. The date of execution (death) is given as June 5, 1941. Rehabilitated in accordance with the decision of the Rivne Regional Prosecutor's Office dated September 20, 1989.

Therefore, I. Syrotenko was submitted by his comrades-in-arms for the award posthumously, which was allowed by the founding documents. Information about his award is available in the register of the Knights of the Cross of Symon Petliura.

On the other hand, there is no Andriy Dubynovskyi in the register. The only information about him is that he was awarded the Military Cross. This is a commemorative award of the Army of the Ukrainian People's Republic. The idea of ​​its creation arose in 1953 among veterans living in Toronto (Canada). And the award was adopted in 1958. According to the statute, “the right to receive and wear the Military Cross belongs to those participants of the armed liberation struggle who remained faithful to the Ukrainian State idea to the end and did not tarnish military honor with any unworthy actions”.

Among the veterans of the Ukrainian Army who were awarded this award there were not only veterans of the Liberation Movement of 1917–1921, but also members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and all veterans of the Second World War who shared the idea of ​​Ukraine's independence. Besides, a number of Ukrainian church and public figures were awarded the Military Cross.

Therefore, A. Dubynovskyi was also among the awardees. In the “Register of the Awarded with the Military Cross in 1917-1957”, he is listed under number 82. Next to his surname there are the words: lieutenant, clergyman. Apparently, he managed to emigrate to Canada after the Second World War, and he did not suffer the same fate as I. Syrotenko. At least no other information has been found.

So, new pages and artifacts have been added to the history of the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.