Ukrainian dissident Ivan Hel has died
Ivan Hel passed away Wednesday at the age of 74. Hel was a Ukrainian human rights activist and head of the Committee to Protect the Rights of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which “legalized” the church that had been banned in the Soviet Union.
Ukrainian human rights activist, dissident politician, journalist Ivan Hel was born July 17, 1937, in the village Klitsko (Lviv region). In Soviet times, he was repeatedly convicted of so-called anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. He spent 16 years in prison and 5 years in exile.
During perestroika, in early 1987, Hel returned to Ukraine and became a member of the editorial board of revived magazine Ukrainian Herald.
In late 1987 Ivan Hel headed the Committee to Protect the Rights of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which sought legal ways to official register the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which had been underground for 40 years. The most famous events in the campaign for the legalization of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church took place September 17, 1989, in Lviv, which gathered more than 300 thousand people and the five-month hunger strike by clergy and faithful in Moscow on the Arbat.
After the Soviet Union collapsed Ivan Hel was an active politician. In 2009 President Viktor Yushchenko awarded him with the Order of Liberty "for significant contribution to the revival of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.”