Ukrainian National Council [Українська Національна Рада] – a body established with the aim of consolidating the activities of Ukrainian émigré political organisations.
Consultations held after the Second World War in Western Europe between the various political organisations resulted in the reorganisation of the government in exile of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (Ukrainska Narodna Respublika, or UNR) which, in the inter-war period, preserved the tradition of Ukrainian statehood of the UNR. The new ‘state centre’ of the UNR in exile comprised the Ukrainian National Council (UNC), a President and an Executive Body. The UNC was formed of representatives of the political organisations, and its first session (July 1948, Augsburg) was attended by the following organisations: the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance, the Ukrainian National State Union, three socialist organisations which later merged to form the Ukrainian Socialist Party, the Ukrainian Revolutionary Democratic Party, the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Melnykivtsi), or OUN(M), and the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Banderivtsi), or OUN(B).
In the discussions preceding the formation of the UNC, the OUN(B) and the Soiuz Hetmantsiv Derzhavnykiv hetmanite association (SHD) disagreed with the other political organisations on a number of issues. The OUN(B) pressed for recognition of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council as the leading authority in the ongoing resistance movement in Ukraine, as well as for a change to the proposed UNC structure to reflect the levels of support for different political organisations among émigré Ukrainians. The SHD also proposed an alternative UNC structure, and had reservations about cooperating with a body continuing the tradition of the UNR, since the latter was associated with the overthrow of the hetmanite Ukrainian government of 1918.
The SHD did not join the UNC, while the OUN(B) initially joined the Council as an opposition group but later, in 1950, withdrew from it. In subsequent years the composition of the UNC changed several times, as certain organisations split into opposing factions, and some organisations or factions withdrew from the Council (some subsequently returned).
The UNC’s Executive Body was initially based in Germany (later in North America). In several other countries, including the UK, it appointed bodies of local representatives (Representations) to act on its behalf. The members of the UK Representation were appointed towards the end of 1948, and it was formally constituted in January 1949. The original members of the Representation were Michael Oparenko, Eugene Pyndus, Myroslav Semchyshyn, Victor Maletz and Mykola Sakhno. In subsequent years its composition was changed a number times.
The UK Representation promoted the cause of Ukrainian independence among British political and other figures (in 1953 it played a key part in the formation of the Anglo-Ukrainian Society), and cooperated with UK representatives of other nationalities under Soviet rule. Within the Ukrainian community it harnessed support for the UNC and raised funds for its work. The Representation was most active in the initial period of its existence. In later years it gradually became less active owing to factors such as the onward emigration of individuals to other countries and financial constraints.
The UNC was actively supported by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain until March 1949, when members and supporters of the OUN(B) and SHD gained a majority in the Association’s governing body. From that year the newly-formed Federation of Ukrainians in Great Britain (FUGB) provided community support for the UNC. This support ended in 1957 when the OUM(M), which had a significant influence over the FUGB, withdrew from the UNC. A portion of the FUGB membership which supported the UNC consequently left the Federation. In the same year the Society of Supporters of the Ukrainian National Council in Great Britain was founded (renamed Ukrainian Society in Great Britain in about 1976) and began to provide moral and material support to the UNC and its UK Representation.
The constitution of the UNC was amended several times in the course of its history, including with respect to the Council’s structure. In particular, from the seventh UNC session (1972, London) onwards, as well as delegates from political organisations, the Council included individuals elected by societies of UNC supporters in various countries, including in Great Britain.
On the basis of decisions taken at an extraordinary session of the UNC held in March 1992, at a ceremony in Kyiv on the first anniversary of the declaration of Ukraine’s independence in August of that year the powers of the UNR government in exile were symbolically transferred to the government of Ukraine. This act marked the cessation of activities of the UNR government in exile and its associated institutions, including the UK Representation of the UNC Executive Body.
‘Komunikat Ukrainskoi Natsionalnoi Rady; Persha sesiia Ukrainskoi Natsionalnoi Rady’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 8 August 1948, p. 2
‘Komunikat Predstavnytstva UNRady u V. Brytanii’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 10 April 1949, p. 4
‘Zaiava Soiuzu Hetmantsiv Derzhavnykiv v spravi konsolidatsii ukrainskykh politychnykh syl na emihratsii’, Ranok (Heidenau, Lower Saxony), 24 April 1949, p. 2-5
Vovchuk, I., ‘Zaiava delehatsii OUN do UNRady’, Surma (Munich), no. 18-19, February-March 1950, pp. 8-10
‘Komunikat Prezydii Ukrainskoi Natsionalnoi Rady v zviazku iz zaiavoiu fraktsii OUNr do UNRady [April 1950], in Derzhavnyi Tsentr Ukrainskoi Narodnoi Respubliky v Ekzyli, ed. by L. Wynar and N. Pazuniak (Philadelphia-Kyiv-Washington, 1993), pp. 372-384
Bazylewskyi P., ‘Zvit z diialnosty Predstavnytstva VO UNRady u Velykii Brytanii’, in Piata sesiia Ukrainskoi Natsionalnoi Rady (17-23 lystopada 1961): materiialy i dokumenty (1962), pp. 59-62
Onysko, S., ‘Deshcho pro istoriiu, zavdannia i diialnist Predstavnytstva Vykonavchoho Orhanu UNRady u V. Brytanii’, Biuleten Predstavnytstva Vykonavchoho Orhanu UNRady u V. Brytanii (London), December 1969-January 1970, pp. 8-14
Derzhavnyi Tsentr Ukrainskoi Narodnoi Respubliky v Ekzyli, ed. by L. Wynar and N. Pazuniak (Philadelphia-Kyiv-Washington, 1993)
Ukrainskyi parlamentaryzm na emihratsii. Derzhavnyi tsentr UNR: dokumenty i materialy, 1920-1992, ed. by V. Yablonskyi (Kyiv, 2012)
Yablonskyi, V., ‘“Konstytutsiia” Derzhavnoho tsentru UNR v ekzyli u 1948-1992 rr.’, Problemy vyvchennia istorii Ukrainskoi revoliutsii 1917-1921 rokiv (Kyiv), 2014, no. 10, pp. 330-348