Volodymyr Shcherbytsky

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Volodymyr Shcherbytsky
Володи́мир Щерби́цький
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine
In office
25 May 1972 – 28 September 1989
Preceded byPetro Shelest
Succeeded byVladimir Ivashko
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
In office
23 October 1965 – 25 May 1972
Preceded byIvan Kazanets
Succeeded byOleksandr Liashko
In office
28 February 1961 – 26 June 1963
Preceded byNikifor Kalchenko
Succeeded byIvan Kazanets
First Secretary of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine
In office
7 July 1963 – 23 October 1965
Preceded byNikita Tolubeev
Succeeded byOleksiy Vatchenko
In office
December 1955 – December 1957
Preceded byAndrei Kirilenko
Succeeded byAnton Gayevoy
Full member of the 24th , 25th, 26th, 27th Politburo
In office
9 April 1971 – 20 September 1989
Candidate member of the 22nd Politburo
In office
6 December 1965 – 8 April 1966
In office
31 October 1961 – 13 December 1963
Full member of the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th Central Committee
In office
31 October 1961 – 31 October 1983
Personal details
Born(1918-02-17)17 February 1918
Verkhnodniprovsk, Ukrainian People's Republic[1]
(now Ukraine)
Died16 February 1990(1990-02-16) (aged 71)
Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
(now Ukraine)
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union (1948–1989)

Volodymyr Vasylyovych Shcherbytsky[a] (17 February 1918 — 16 February 1990[1]) was a Ukrainian Soviet politician. He was First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1972 to 1989.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Shcherbytsky meets Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi in Kyiv in 1982.

Scherbytsky graduated from the Dnipropetrovsk Chemical Technology Institute in 1941.[1] After World War II, he worked as an engineer in Dniprodzerzhynsk (now Kamianske).[1] From 1948 Shcherbytsky was a party functionary in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[1] He steadily rose from the local level to national politics which he finished in 1972 with gaining the highest political function in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic: First Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine.[1] After his appointment he purged about 37,000 loyalist of his predecessor Petro Shelest from the Party and government apparatus.[1][2] Shelest had been removed on charges of being "soft" on Ukrainian nationalism and that he had encouraged economic "localism".[2] Shcherbytsky was an influential figure in the Soviet Union; a member of Politburo of the CPSU from 1971, he was a close ally to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.[2][1]


His rule of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was characterized by the expanded policies of re-centralisation and suppression of dissent accompanied by a broad assault on Ukrainian culture and intensification of Russification.[3][4] During Shcherbytsky's rule mass arrests were carried out that incarcerated any member of the intelligentsia that dared to dissent from official state policies.[5] The expirations of political prisoners’ sentences were increasingly followed by re-arrest and new sentences on charges of criminal activity.[4] Incarceration in psychiatric institutions became a new method of political repression.[4] Ukrainian language press, scholarly and cultural organisations which had flourished under Shcherbytsky's predecessor Shelest were repressed by Shcherbytsky.[3] Shcherbytsky also made a point of speaking Russian at official functions while Shelest spoke Ukrainian in public events.[2] In an October 1973 speech to fellow party members Shcherbytsky stated that as an "internationalist" Ukrainians were meant to "express feelings of friendship and brotherhood to all people of our country but first of all against the great Russian people, their culture, their language - the language of the Revolution, of Lenin, the language of international intercourse and unity".[6] Shcherbytsky also claimed that "the worst enemy of the Ukrainian people" is "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism and also international Zionism".[6] During Shcherbytsky's rule, Ukrainian-language education was greatly scaled back.[6]

Chernobyl disaster[edit]

He carried out the order from Moscow to hold an International Workers' Day parade on the Khreshchatyk in Kyiv following the disaster. He went ahead with this plan in order to show people that there was no reason for panic, with Shcherbytsky taking his own grandson Volodya to the celebrations.[7]

Other aspects of his rule and downfall[edit]

Shcherbytsky's power base was arguably one of the most corrupt and conservative among the Soviet republics.[8]

From 1972 to 1989, the economy of Ukraine continued to decline.[3]

Grave of Volodymyr Shcherbytsky

On 20 September 1989, Shcherbytsky lost his membership of the politburo in a purge of conservative members pushed through by Mikhail Gorbachev.[9] Eight days later he was removed from leadership of the Communist Party of Ukraine at a plenum in Kyiv personally presided over by Gorbachev.[10]

Death and legacy[edit]

Shcherbytsky died on 16 February 1990 after a long illness.[11] His death came a day before his 72nd birthday.

A street named after Shcherbytsky in Kamianske was renamed to Viacheslav Chornovil Street in 2016 due to Ukrainian decommunization laws.[12] In the same year, a street named after him in Dnipro (formerly Dnipropetrovsk) was renamed to Olena Blavatsky Street.[13]


Volodymyr Shcherbytsky was twice awarded the Hero of Socialist Labour — in 1974 and 1977. During his public service he also received numerous other civil and state awards and recognitions, including the Order of Lenin (in 1958, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1977, 1983 and 1988), the Order of October Revolution (in 1978 and 1982), the Order of the Patriotic War, I class (in 1985) and various medals.[14]


In 1985 Leonid Kravchuk, secretary of Communist Party of Ukraine regarding ideological matters, was preparing a report for Shcherbytsky for the next party committee gatherings following a plenum of the Central Committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In this report Kravchuk mentioned the word perestroika. As soon as Shcherbytsky had heard the word, he stopped Kravchuk and asked:

What fool (durak) invented this word perestroika? Why rebuild the house? Is there anything wrong in the Soviet Union? We are fine! What is there to rebuild? It is necessary to improve, reorganize, but why, if the house is not falling apart, why does it need to be rebuilt?

— Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, [15][16]


  1. ^ Ukrainian: Володи́мир Васи́льович Щерби́цький, IPA: [woloˈdɪmɪr wɐˈsɪlʲowɪtʃ ʃtʃerˈbɪtsʲkɪj]
    Russian: Влади́мир Васи́льевич Щерби́цкий; Vladimir Vasilyevich Shcherbitsky, IPA: [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ɕːɪrˈbʲitskʲɪj]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shcherbytsky, Volodymyr, Encyclopedia of Ukraine (accessed on 6 February 2021)
  2. ^ a b c d Subtelny, Orest (10 November 2009). Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442697287.
  3. ^ a b c Bernard A. Cook (8 February 2001). Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 1280. ISBN 978-1-135-17932-8.
  4. ^ a b c Ukraine under Shcherbytsky, Encyclopædia Britannica (accessed on 6 February 2021)
  5. ^ Christopher A. Hartwell (26 September 2016). Two Roads Diverge: The Transition Experience of Poland and Ukraine. Cambridge University Press. p. 263. ISBN 978-1107530980.
  6. ^ a b c Bohdan Nahaylo, The Ukrainian Resurgence, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1999, pages 39 and 40
  7. ^ "Горбачев - Щербицкому: Не проведешь парад - сгною!".
  8. ^ Democratic Changes and Authoritarian Reactions in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova By Karen Dawisha, Bruce Parrott. Cambridge University Press, 1997 ISBN 0-521-59732-3, ISBN 978-0-521-59732-6. p. 337
  9. ^ Garthoff, Raymond L. (1994). The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. p. 393. ISBN 0-8157-3060-8.
  10. ^ Garthoff, Raymond L. (1994). The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. p. 397. ISBN 0-8157-3060-8.
  11. ^ "Vladimir Shcherbitsky, 71, Dies; Former Ukraine Communist Chief". The New York Times. Associated Press. 18 February 1990.
  12. ^ Какие улицы сменили название в Днепродзержинске [Which streets have changed their name in Dneprodzerzhinsk]. Sobitie (in Russian). 19 February 2016. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  13. ^ Історія самої незвичайної вулиці Дніпропетровська [The history of the most unusual street in Dnepropetrovsk]. New Dnipro (in Ukrainian). 4 October 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  14. ^ http://www.kmu.gov.ua/control/uk/publish/article?showHidden=1&art_id=1261563&cat_id=661258[bare URL]
  15. ^ ""Щербицкий сказал - какой дурак придумал слово перестройка?.."".
  16. ^ "Владимир Щербицкий: последний украинский секретарь". Archived from the original on 21 April 2018.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by 1st Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Andriy Kyrylenko
Mykyta Tolubeyev
1st Secretary of the Communist Party of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast
Succeeded by
Anton Hayevyi
Oleksiy Vatchenko
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Ukraine (Ukrainian SSR)
Succeeded by