Pyotr Grigorenko

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Pyotr Grigorenko
Petr Grigorenko and Zinaida Grigorenko
Born (1907-10-16)16 October 1907
the village of Borysivka, Taurida Governorate,  Russian Empire
Died 21 February 1987(1987-02-21) (aged 79)
New York City, USA
Place of burial Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Andrew in South Bound Brook, New Jersey
Allegiance Soviet Union Soviet Union
Years of service 1941 - 1945
Rank Major General
Awards Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Patriotic War, Order of the Red Star

Petro Grigorenko or Petro Hryhorovych Hryhorenko or Pyotr Grigoryevich Grigorenko (Ukrainian: Петро́ Григо́рович Григоре́нко, Russian: Пётр Григо́рьевич Григоре́нко; October 16, 1907 – February 21, 1987) was a high-ranked Soviet Army commander of Ukrainian descent, one of the founders of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union,[1] dissident and writer.

Early life[edit]

Petro Grigorenko was born in Borysivka village in Taurida Governorate, Russian Empire (in present-day Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine). He went on a military career and reached high ranks during World War II. After the war, being a decorated veteran, he left active career and taught at the Frunze Military Academy, reaching the rank of a Major General.

In 1949, Grigorenko defended his Ph.D. thesis on the theme “Features of the organization and conduct of combined offensive battle in the mountains.”[2]

In 1960, he completed work on his doctoral thesis.[3]

Dissident activities[edit]

In 1961 Grigorenko criticized Nikita Khrushchev's policies and was transferred to Russian Far East as punishment. In 1963 he created the Union of Struggle for the Restoration of Leninism. The authorities sent him to a psychiatric imprisonment psikhushka from 1964–1965, and he was stripped of his military rank, medals, and retirement benefits.[4]

After his release, Grigorenko actively participated in the struggle for the Crimean Tatar autonomy. He also demonstrated against the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and became a leading figure in Soviet human rights movement along with his fellow celebrated dissidents Vladimir Bukovsky, Andrei Sakharov, Alexander Yesenin-Volpin and others. At the funeral of Alexei Kosterin in 1968, he referred to the deportation of the Crimean Tatars as a genocide.[4]

He was arrested on May 7, 1969 and incarcerated for five years. Colonel-Doctor Lunts diagnosed his activities as evidence of paranoid schizophrenia and arranged to have him sent to the Chernyakhovsk prison hospital. On January 17, 1971 Grigorenko was asked whether he had changed his convictions and replied that "Convictions are not like gloves, one cannot easily change them".[5]

In 1971, Dr. Semyon Gluzman wrote a psychiatric report on Grigorenko.[6] Gluzman came to the conclusion that Grigorenko was mentally sane and had been taken to mental hospitals for political reasons.[6] In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gluzman was forced to serve seven years in labor camp and three years in Siberian exile for refusing to diagnose Grigorenko with a mental illness.[7]

Grigorenko was one of the first who questioned the official Soviet version of World War II history. He pointed out that just prior to the German attack on June 22, 1941, vast Soviet troops were concentrated in the area west of Białystok, deep in occupied Poland, getting ready for a surprise offensive, which made them vulnerable to be encircled in case of surprise German attack. His ideas were later advanced by Viktor Suvorov.

Following the signing of the Helsinki Accords by the USSR, the USA, and all European countries in 1975, Grigorenko became a member of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group which set itself the task of monitoring the observance of the Accords, especially as concerns human rights.

In 1977, when Grigorenko left for medical treatment in the United States, he was stripped of his Soviet citizenship.

Being in USA since 1977, Petro Hryhorenko took an active part in the activities of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group foreign affiliate.[8]

In 1979 in New York, Grigorenko was examined by the team of psychologists and psychiatrists including Alan A. Stone, the then President of American Psychiatric Association.[9] The team came to the conclusion that they could find no evidence of mental disease in Grigorenko and his history consistent with mental disease in the past.[9] The conclusion was drawn up and publicized by Walter Reich.[10][11][12][13]

In 1981, Pyotr Grigorenko told about his psychiatric examinations, hospitalizations, life, and views in his memoirs V Podpolye Mozhno Vstretit Tolko Krys… (In Underground One Can Meet Only Rats…).[14] In 1982, the book was translated into English by Thomas P. Whitney under the title Memoirs.[15]

In 1991, a commission, composed of psychiatrists from all over the Soviet Union and led by Modest Kabanov, then director of the Bekhterev Psychoneurological Institute in St Petersburg, spent six months reviewing the Grigorenko files, drew up 29 thick volumes of legal proceedings,[1] and reversed the official diagnosis on Grigorenko in October 1991.[6]:73 In 1992, the official post-mortem forensic psychiatric commission of experts met at Grigorenko’s homeland removed the stigma of mental patient from him and confirmed that the debilitating treatment he underwent in high security psychiatric hospitals for many years was groundless.[16]:23 The 1992 psychiatric examination of Grigorenko was described by the Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal in its numbers 1–4 of 1992.[17][18]

Pyotr Grigorenko's son, Andrew, was declared a hereditary madman and expelled from the USSR in 1975. He lives in the USA.[19] Andrew was repeatedly told that since his father was mentally ill, then he was hereditarily mentally ill as well, and if he would not stop his appearances in defense of human rights and his father, he was told to go to psikhushka.[20]

Name spelling versions[edit]

Monument at Petro Grigorenko's grave. Cemetery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Andrew in South Bound Brook, New Jersey

The different Latin spellings of Grigorenko's name exist due to the lack of uniform transliteration rules for the Ukrainian names in the middle of 20th century, when he became internationally known. The correct modern transliteration would be Hryhorenko. However, according to the American identification documents of the late general the official spelling of his name was established as Petro Grigorenko. The same spelling is engraved on his gravestone at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery of St. Andrew in South Bound Brook, NJ, USA. The same spelling also retained by his surviving American descendants: son Andrew and granddaughters Tatiana and Olga.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rich, Vera (16 November 1991). "Soviet Union admits to abuses of psychiatry". NewScientist 132 (1795): 13. PMID 16041887. 
  2. ^ Казнимые сумасшествием: Сборник документальных материалов о психиатрических преследованиях инакомыслящих в СССР / Редакторы: А. Артемова, Л. Рар, М. Славинский (PDF) (in Russian). Франкфурт-на-Майне: Посев. 1971. p. 118. 
  3. ^ "Григоренко Пётр Григорьевич (1907-1987)" (in Russian). The Sakharov Center. Retrieved 20 July 2011.  (The biography of Grigorenko on the website of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center)
  4. ^ a b Bio at Gen. Petro Grigorenko Foundation, Inc
  5. ^ Barron, John (1974). KGB: the secret work of Soviet secret agents. Reader's Digest Press. p. 2. ISBN 0883490099. 
  6. ^ a b c Medicine betrayed: the participation of doctors in human rights abuses. Zed Books. 1992. p. 73. ISBN 1-85649-104-8. 
  7. ^ Sabshin, Melvin (2008). Changing American psychiatry: a personal perspective. American Psychiatric Pub. p. 95. ISBN 1-58562-307-5. 
  8. ^ "Права человека в России", Human rights network, in Russian
  9. ^ a b Abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union: hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, House of Representatives, Ninety-eighth Congress, first session, September 20, 1983. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1984. p. 74. 
  10. ^ Reich, Walter (November 1980). "The case of General Grigorenko: a psychiatric reexamination of a Soviet dissident". Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes 43 (4): 303–323. doi:10.1521/00332747.1980.11024079. PMID 6999519. 
  11. ^ Reich, Walter (1980). "The case of General Grigorenko: a second opinion". Encounter 54 (4): 9–24. PMID 11634905. 
  12. ^ Reich, Walter (13 May 1979). "Grigorenko Gets a Second Opinion". The New York Times Magazine. 
  13. ^ Reich, Walter [Уолтер Рейч] (2013). Иное мнение [A Second Opinion]. Kontinent (in Russian) 152. 
  14. ^ Григоренко, Пётр (1981). В подполье можно встретить только крыс… [In Underground One Can Meet Only Rats…] (in Russian). Нью-Йорк: Детинец. 
  15. ^ Grigorenko, Petr (1982). Memoirs (translated by Thomas P. Whitney). New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-01570-X. 
  16. ^ Коротенко, Ада; Аликина, Наталия (2002). Советская психиатрия: Заблуждения и умысел (in Russian). Киев: Издательство «Сфера». p. 23. ISBN 966-7841-36-7. 
  17. ^ Савенко, Юрий (2009). "20-летие НПА России". Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (№ 1): 5–18. ISSN 1028-8554. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Савенко, Юрий (2004). "Отчетный доклад о деятельности НПА России за 2000-2003 гг.". Nezavisimiy Psikhiatricheskiy Zhurnal (№ 2). ISSN 1028-8554. Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Сулькин, Олег (19 July 2012). "Сын генерала Петра Григоренко готовит сборник памяти отца" [General Petr Grogorenko's son is preparing a collection in memory of his father] (in Russian). Voice of America. 
  20. ^ Толстой, Иван; Гаврилов, Андрей (14 December 2014). "Генерал Григоренко" [General Grigorenko] (in Russian). Radio Liberty. 

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