A Bloody Turning Point

Ataman Yurko Tyutyunnyk was looking closely into the face of the 24-year-old Cheka (KGB) officer Serhiy Karin-Danylenko, who was sitting opposite him. Not long ago they saw each other under quite different circumstances – at the rebel-partisan headquarters, where “Ataman Novitskyi’s communication agent” informed Tyutyunnyk about the bright prospects of the rebel movement in Ukraine. And now a new meeting – in the room of the Head of GPU of the Ukrainian SSR Vsevolod Balytskyi. Finally the Lieutenant-General said: “To whom I can bow, it’s to Cheka. It does work well … “

An Actor in a Leather Jacket

Serhiy Danylenko was born in 1898 in the village Vysoki Bayraky in Yelysavethrad province (now Kirovohrad region). His father was a poor peasant, had 15 children and an arpent of arable land, had been a participant of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. The boy did not enter the gymnasium; in 1919 he managed to graduate from Yelysavethrad Technical School.

Serhiy Karin- Danylenko

But he did not work on specialty: the 20-year-old man volunteered into the Red Army. On the armored train “Death to the Whites”(“the Whites here – the White Guard servicemen), he participated in battles against Denikin, Makhno and numerous “Fathers”, whose political orientation was difficult to define. In a few months the Red Army serviceman fell ill with typhoid fever. Serhiy was hidden from the white executioners who took an advantage having set his father’s estate on fire.
With the Reds’ (Red Army’s) arrival in his native village, Serhiy and an actress Alisa Verbytska organized an amateur theater in the abandoned barn. Here the local Cheka arrested them on the provocator’s report. Danylenko was lucky: he was not executed as a hidden “kontra”(counterrevolutionary). Moreover, the people in leather jackets liked the acquitted prisoner, and in January 1921 he found himself in their ranks. First of all, he had to become Karin for the sake of conspiracy.
In Cheka, Serhiy was doing the work related to counteracting the rebel movement of the advocates of the Ukrainian statehood – Petlyurists. His first duty stations were Yelysavethrad, Mykolaiv, Kyiv GubChekas (Chekas of provinces). Once Karin met a friend from the Technical School – now a student of the Kyiv Institute of People’s Education (formerly the St. Vladimir’s University). The latter trusted the classmate and told him about his participating in the activities of the underground Ukrainian military organization. And suggested Danylenko should join it. The Cheka leaders approved of the idea: Karin rooted in the underground and soon became a remarkable authority (apparent talent for role play and intelligence).

In the Otaman’s Staff

The then enemy №1 of the Ukrainian Cheka (KGB) was Lieutenant- General of the UNR Army Yurko Tyutyunnyk, who created a Rebel-Partisan Staff (RPS) in Lviv to coordinate the anti-Bolshevik movement and prepare a nationwide uprising. The Staff sent emissaries, maintained fighting capacity of the armed forces of UPR (Ukrainian People’s Republic) in camps on the territory of Poland and Romania.
The GPU of the Ukrainian SSR made a plan to lure Tyutyunnyk into Ukraine and arrest him. (Hereinafter the names of operational activities and agents’ pseudonyms are changed. – Ed.). The operation’s key points were as follows: to plant agents into the General’s environment and to persuade him that in the territory of the Ukrainian SSR there was a powerful underground, which required proper leadership.
In September 1921, Karin- Danylenko was sent to the Otaman’s Staff allegadly from the rebel leader Novytskyi, acting in Yelysavethrad region. The intelligence officer spent three weeks in Tyutyunnyk’s Staff, spread special misinformation, and collected intelligence about the RPS’ plans. Neither the Ukrainian People’s Republic’s Counterintelligence, nor the Polish Defenzyva managed to disclose him. Back in Novohrad-Volynskyi, Serhiy reported that an invasion of Lieutenant- General Vasyl Nelhovskyi’s forces was being prepared; September 23 rebels were met and defeated by the concentrated in advance Reds’ (Soviet’s) forces. Based on information collected by the intelligence officer, in late October and early November Vitaliy Prymakov and Hryhoriy Kotovskyi’s cavalry defeated the units of Colonel Paliy in Khmelnytskyi region and Lieutenant- General Yanchenko’s in Zhytomyr region (respectively 880 and 900 cavalry). In Volyn alone, the rebels lost more than 250 people killed and more than 500 captured. Karin’s award was a gold watch; he was transferred to the Central Office of the Special Service.
A secret KGB assistant Zadunayskyi – a former rebel commander- was sent to Tyutyunnyk. He managed to persuade the Otaman that there was an underground “Higher Military Council” acting in Ukraine. In the night of June 17, 1923 Tyutyunnyk accompanied by Zadunayskyi left for the meeting with its “leadership”. On the Soviet bank of the Dniester the Otaman was captured by border guards who pretended they were rebels. The shock was so great that the fearless General, having fainted, fell onto the sand and for more than one hour was in shock. In 1929, having used the prisoner for propaganda purposes, they shot Tyutyunnyk dead …
Special Tasks

The 1920s- 1930s were crowned with great success of the Intelligence Service of the Soviet Ukraine. It would be wrong and unfair to think that all that officers of special agencies did was falsifying cases and fighting against imaginary “enemies of the people”. Among those who faithfully served the revolution, there were many professionals of the secret front. Classic games were conducted with foreign intelligence centers and anti-Soviet emigration, that was associated with them. For example, the operational game with the Romanian political emigration “Living-Room” (1926-1935), in which was involved a highly qualified agent under the pseudonym of Censor, and his wife (Ksenya) and sister (Maria).
Denounced by a traitor, November 16, 1935, Censor was arrested by Siguranca. The next year he was killed “while trying to escape”; the body was thrown into the Dniester. Border guards of the NKVD buried the dead with honors. The operational game helped expose 76 agents of foreign intelligence services and emissaries of foreign centers, create their own positions in them, collect information on intelligence work against the Soviet Union from the territories of neighboring countries of Eastern Europe.
In 1931-1934 Danylenko was performing an important task abroad, having infiltrated into centers of political emigration. Later he participated in the development of the operation “Trap”, during which two emissaries- terrorists of the Russian General Military Union -were neutralized. As an intelligence officer he was said to be the best specialist. But the tragic 1937 had come… Karin was arrested on August 27 and convoyed to Moscow, where he was destined to go through all the circles of the investigation hell. His cellmate Mykhaylo Oleksandrovskyi advised Serhiy Tarasovych: “… better give evidence, let them shoot you dead normally”. The former Chief of the Fire Protection Service of the NKVD of the UKrainian SSR, was told by the investigator right off the bat: “We do not care whether you’re guilty or not, but the current political situation is such that if you are arrested, it turns out you are an enemy. Give evidence about yourself and others. Go and think, start working or we’ll kill you … “
The Cheka officer had been kept in Lefortovo and Butyrka for 26 months – on charges of the so-called Balytskyi’s conspiracy and creating an anti-Soviet nationalist organization (irony of fate!). The prisoner had written more than one appeal to the Prosecutor General and the People’s Commissar. All in vain. Karin was released only October 22, 1939. The charge was dismissed.
The months of abuse in jail and pulmonary tuberculosis took toll, so he had to retire.
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, Danylenko filed a report with the request to use his operational experience. The veteran was included into the group for preparation of partisan- diversion operations. He participated in the defense of Stalingrad. By the end of the war the veteran’s uniform was decorated with the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st class, the Order of Red Star, “Badge of Honor”, war medals.

… The bloody consequences of the conflict in western Ukraine needed a balanced political solution. In November 1944, the representative of the underground, an artist Yaroslava Muzyka handed the “Soviets” the proposals for peace negotiations. The head of the Party organization of the Ukrainian SSR Mykyta Khrushchov authorized the operation “The Turning point” (the name is real – Ed.). Danylenko was playing in it (not for the last time in his life) a very important role of the representative of the government of the Ukrainian SSR at the talks.
March 1, 1945, at the 130th kilometer of the Lviv – Ternopil motorway, Danylenko and Holovko’s (Captain Khoroshun from Lviv NKVD) car was stopped by the prearranged signal of a lantern. 12 kilometers farther by the road, on the farm Konyukhy of Kozova district, Ternopil region, Soviet representatives were met by the Chief of the Military Staff of the UPA Dmytro Mayevskyi and Political Referent Yakiv Busol, who came under the armed guard of the “Special Task Department”. The intense consultations continued for five hours. But the final word was left with the leadership of the Soviet Union – but it did not show good will; and although there were attempts to resume negotiations, at least until April 1948, the bloodshed continued for over 10 years.
In 1947 the seriously ill Colonel who almost lost his sight, retired. He was teaching young employees, lecturing, began writing books. However, Karin-Danylenko’s unique experience once more returned him into the trenches of the secret front.
In March 1953 the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs was headed by Lavrentiy Beria. Lieutenant General Pavlo Meshyk became his “Vice” in Ukraine. Although the latter hated “Banderites”, he consistently advocated the idea of peaceful resolving of the conflict. He sharply criticized high-ranked Party clerks for the “excesses in the Leninist national policy and creation of collective farms”, changed 18 of 25 chiefs of the UMVD (Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs). He gave instructions not to carry out death sentences to OUN members, was curtailing military operations. He began the revision of cases of the prisoners and their families, sentenced as “banderites’ supporters”. At that time there was seriously raised the question of the revival of the Greek Catholic Church and return of monasteries.
Time had come to resume negotiations. Meshyk invited Karin-Danylenko and instructed him to prepare the message to the leader of the Resistance Movement Vasyl Kuk (Lemish). The retiree undertook the task with enthusiasm. The underground was asked to lay down arms in exchange for life, freedom, social guarantees. The letter dealt with the possibility of releasing prisoners and the exiled, the Metropolitan Yosyp Slipyi and other Church leaders included. The message, the full text of which has not survived (although Lemish in his time did receive it), shows Karin’s great diplomatic skills.
It is easy to imagine how many lives would have been saved if the peacemaking plan had been implemented. Danylenko would have played a prominent role in this case, and a quite sincere role at that. But after Beria’s arrest, his unenviable fate (being shot dead) was shared by his “Ukrainian Vice”. Submachine gun bursts had been thundering in the Carpathians, while Karin had been waltzed from one investigator’s room to another, and demanded to evidence against the “people’s enemy” Meshyk. Fortunately, a vital error did not happen this time either …
Serhiy Karin- Danylenko died in Kyiv in 1985.
Serhiy Shevchenko, Dmytro Vedeneyev
(From the book “Ukrainian Solovki”)