This May, Ukrainians had two significant anniversaries at once, associated with the name of perhaps the most underestimated figure of the liberation movement — Kyrylo Osmak, the underground president of Ukraine. May 9 marked the 130th anniversary of his birth, and May 16 marked the 60th anniversary of the death of one of the leaders of the liberation movement. He belongs to a cohort of unjustly forgotten great Ukrainians.
Kyrylo Osmak, a native of Poltava region, was born in a Cossack family. He actively showed himself during the Ukrainian revolution, became one of the co-founders of the Central Council. At this time, Osmak immersed himself in state-building processes. After the Bolshevik occupation, Kyrylo did not escape, remaining on his native land.
During the interwar period, Osmak was arrested three times by the Moscow occupation authorities for his beliefs. Because of the repression, Kyrylo’s wife Maria committed suicide. But the totalitarian regime failed to break his will. The outbreak of the Soviet-German war in 1941 became a catalyst for Osmak’s return to public and political activity. Kyrylo quickly establishes contacts with Ukrainian nationalists and helps them with food supplies. In the OUN, he saw those who would be able to realize his long-held dream of building an independent Ukraine.
In the nationalist underground movement, Kyrylo Osmak quickly gained authority because of his energy and extraordinary intellect. He is actively involved in propaganda activities, publishes leaflets and brochures of the OUN with calls to fight against all occupiers. Kyrylo Osmak puts forward the idea of creating a common coordinating body of all Ukrainian political forces for the purpose of consolidation in the name of obtaining the UMLC. This opinion is positively perceived by the leadership of the liberation movement.
In the summer of 1944, Kyrelo Osmak’s initiative was implemented. The Ukrainian Main Liberation Council (UMLC) is emerging, a kind of underground parliament, the highest political body of the liberation movement. Osmak was elected its President, and Roman Shukhevych was elected Prime Minister. Thus, the Ukrainian nationalist from the Dnipro region became the leading political representative of the participants in the liberation struggle.
This fact convincingly refutes stereotypes about the Western Ukrainian character of the nationalist underground movement.
However, shortly after the establishment of the UMLC, the newly elected leader of the underground parliament was seriously wounded during the UPA’s fight against the NKVD. Kyrylo Osmak falls into the hands of the enemy. During interrogations, he showed great resilience, hiding his real name from the Chekists for 3 years. Kyrylo Osmak flatly refuses to cooperate with the regime. He openly states that he will die sooner than cooperate with the occupiers.
He is sentenced by a Stalinist court to 25 years in prison. Being imprisoned, Kyrylo Osmak stands firm on nationalist convictions, remaining loyal to the idea of the UMLC for the rest of his life. In 1960, Osmak died. He worthily passed all the trials of fate, retiring undefeated into eternity. Kyrylo Osmak is an example of a strong-willed personality, an idealist. This is exactly the kind of presidents our Ukraine needs today.