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«Open Letter to Hennadii Kernes»


Tomorrow Kharkiv city council is going to consider whether to remove the memorial tablet from the house where famous philologist and theorist of literature Yuri Shevelev lived (Kharkiv, Sumskaya street, 17). Today, nine scientists from leading universities in the UK and North America have written an open letter to the mayor of Kharkiv Hennadii Kernes. There is original full text of the letter in three languages.

Open Letter to the Mayor of Kharkiv, Hennadii Kernes
24 September 2013

Dear Mr Kernes:

We write to express our profound concern over recent events that have threatened the status of the plaque commemorating the eminent Ukrainian philologist Iurii Shevelov on Sums’ka Street in Kharkiv. As Slavists at European and North American universities, we are all deeply indebted to Professor Shevelov for his innumerable contributions to the fields of historical linguistics and literary studies. As Ukrainianists, we stand on his shoulders. And today we stand shoulder to shoulder with the many citizens of Kharkiv and of Ukraine who wish to pay lasting homage to this exceptional scholar, who never ceased in calling Kharkiv his home.

We also wish to condemn the recent slanderous accusations made by a small minority against Professor Shevelov. The allegations concerning his activities during the Second World War first surfaced in the early 1960s and were traced to the KGB, which tried to undermine this major scholar by smearing his name. It is regrettable that these old KGB tactics are being revived by some individuals in Ukraine. The allegations made in the 1960s were thoroughly investigated by numerous US agencies and by Columbia University, Professor Shevelov’s place of employment. They were fully and unequivocally rejected.

We trust that the public servants of the city of Kharkiv will uphold their own decision of 2011 and protect the plaque honoring Iurii Shevelov.


Mark Andryczyk
Columbia University

Vitaly Chernetsky
University of Kansas

Rory Finnin
University of Cambridge

David Marples
University of Alberta

Alexander Motyl
Rutgers University - Newark

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern
Northwestern University

Serhii Plokhii
Harvard University

Yuri Shevchuk
Columbia University

Frank Sysyn
University of Alberta