Political organisations – branches of Ukrainian émigré political parties and organisations, formed in the UK with the aim of undertaking political activity within the country in support of the cause of Ukrainian independence.
Before the Second World War individual representatives of several Ukrainian political organisations were based in the UK and engaged in the dissemination of information concerning Ukraine (see Ukrainians in the United Kingdom). Wide-scale Ukrainian political activity in the country began with the arrival of large numbers of Ukrainians during and immediately after the war, and was essentially a continuation of the political activity of Ukrainians in displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria, and in the camps in Italy in which former soldiers of the Galicia Division were initially held. A number of political parties and organisations which were active in Ukraine before the war resumed their activities in these camps, and several new ones were established. The organisations represented a broad ideological spectrum, from the right wing to the left, though they shared the common objective of Ukrainian independence.
Among the Ukrainians who came to the UK as a result of the war were members of almost all of these organisations, and UK branches of the organisations soon came into being. The largest and most influential of these was the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Banderivtsi), or OUN(B). Next in size were the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Melnykivtsi), or OUN(M), and the Ukrainian Revolutionary Democratic Party (URDP), followed by the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists Abroad (OUN za kordonom, or OUNz) and the monarchist organisation Soiuz Hetmantsiv-Derzhavnykiv (SHD). The immigrants also included members of various smaller organisations, including the Ukrainian National State Union (Ukrainskyi Natsionalno-Derzhavnyi Soiuz – UNDS), the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (Ukrainske Natsionalno-Demokratychne Obiednannia – UNDO), the Ukrainian Socialist Party (USP) and the Union of Lands of United Ukraine – Agrarian Party (Soiuz Zemel Sobornoi Ukrainy – Selianska Partiia, or SZSU-SP). Subsequent splits in the worldwide URDP, UNDO, USP and SZSU-SP were reflected in their UK branches.
In January 1949 a representative Office of the Ukrainian National Council Executive Committee was established in London. The Council was founded in 1948 with the aim of consolidating the émigré political parties and organisations (though full consolidation was not achieved: most significantly, the OUN(B) left the Council in 1950). А UK branch of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance, whose members included the OUNz and one part of each of the URDP and the UNDO, was active in the 1970s and 1980s.
In addition to those individuals who became members of political organisations before arriving in the UK, the organisations recruited new members, to varying degrees, from among other post-war immigrants. In later years the OUN(B) and, to some extent, the OUN(M) and OUNz, also attracted new members from among the descendants of the immigrants. In the atmosphere of the early Cold War period, the OUN(B) and the OUN(M) continued to operate as closed organisations in the manner of the pre-war OUN, and, to a large extent, this continued to apply in later years. The other organisations were generally more open in their activities.
Most of the political organisations sought to further their aims through the exercise of influence within various community organisations and other institutions. They conducted their activities both within the Ukrainian community (promotion of their political programmes, extending their influence) and externally (dissemination of information about Ukraine among the British public, cultivation of support for the cause of Ukrainian independence among influential non-Ukrainians, campaigning for the release of political prisoners in the Soviet Union, etc.). A prominent role in these activities was played by the Ukrainian Information Service, which was founded by the OUN(B) in 1949 and exists to the present day. Some of the political organisations maintained contact with like-minded individuals in Ukraine before its independence, though possibilities for such contacts in the Soviet era were limited.
The smaller organisations had generally become inactive by the end of the 1970s. At the time of Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991 only the branches of the OUN(B), OUN(M), OUNz, and one of the two URDP parties (renamed Ukrainian Democratic Republican Party in 1990) were still active in the UK. The latter wound itself up in 2000, and later the UK branches of the OUN(M) and OUNz became inactive. The OUN(B) branch continues to be active to some extent.
Budnyi V., ‘Politychni hrupy’, in Persha Ukrainska Dyviziia Ukrainskoi Natsionalnoi Armii u Britanskomu Poloni v Italii: Rimini 1945-1947, ed. by V. Budnyi (New York, 1979), pp. 281-284
Maruniak V., ‘Politychne zhyttia’, in Ukrainska emigratsiia v Nimechchyni i Avstrii po druhii svitovii viini, tom 1: 1945-1951 (Munich, 1985), pp. 239-249
Markus V. ‘Political Parties in the DP Camps’, in The Refugee Experience: Ukrainian Displaced Persons after World War II, ed. by W. Isajiw, Y. Boshyk and R. Senkus (Edmonton, 1992), pp. 111-124