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Ukrainian Soviet-Era Dissident Lukyanenko Dies At 89

Levko Lukyanenko spent 26 years in Soviet prisons.
Levko Lukyanenko spent 26 years in Soviet prisons.

Levko Lukyanenko, a Ukrainian dissident who spent 26 years in Soviet prisons, has died in Kyiv at age 89, the country's president says.

"Death has robbed us of Levko Lukyanenko, a living symbol of the invincibility of the Ukrainian spirit and one of those who gained us independence in the 20th century," President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Facebook on July 7.

Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman said that "this man has spent his whole life serving Ukraine, fighting for freedom and independence."

Lukyanenko, who died after a long illness, became one of the symbols of Ukraine's independence, and he helped write the nation's declaration of independence in August 1991 following the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

He was sentenced to death by firing squad "for anti-Soviet propaganda" in 1961.

The sentence was later commuted to 15 years in prison, and he was released in 1976. Shortly after that, he co-founded the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, which promoted human rights.

In 1977, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years in exile. He was released only in 1988.

He was decorated with the country's highest honor, the Hero of Ukraine award, in 2005.

Based on reporting by By RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, AFP, and 112 International

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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