October 16, 1907 - February 21, 1987
Petro Grigorovich Grigorenko was born on October 16, 1907 in the village of Borisovka, Banovsky volost of the Berdyansk district of the Taurian province of the Russian Empire (Ukraine) in the family of Gregory (George) and Agafya (Ganna Bilak) Grigorenko.
From an early age he was accustomed to heavy peasant labor, which did not prevent him from reaching out to knowledge and formal education. He soon became interested in communist mythology and became the first Komsomol member in his native village. At the end of the work school, he enters the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute. At the same time he was elected a member of the Central Committee of LKSMU. In 1931 he was transferred from the institute to the Military Engineering Academy and became a professional army officer.
While serving in the Far Eastern Front, he takes part in the battles at Khalkhin Gol, where he received his first wound.
Petro Grigorenko met in the late 30s with Zinaida, with whom they later married.
Petro, a highly decorated veteran of World War II, after the war became a teacher, and later a professor and head of the newly created department of military cybernetics at Frunze military academy.
However, on September 7, 1961, a sharp turn took place in the life and career of General Grigorenko - the general spoke at a party conference criticizing the regime and proposing to bring democratic principles to the life in the country. The first relatively mild repressions did not take long to wait: demotion and transfer to the Far East.
The evolution of the general into the unshakable fighter for Human Rights acquired in those years a new dynamic. Remaining a Marxist, he came to the conclusion that against the regime it is required to fight by underground methods. The Union of Struggle for the Revival of Leninism - USRL, which included the sons of Peter Grigorenko and several of their friends, students and officers, seemed to be a logical decision. Leaflets USRL were spread in Moscow, Vladimir, Kaluga, in the troops of the Leningrad and Central Asian districts. The arrests of members of the USRL were not long in coming. The general was arrested first - February 2, 1964 in Khabarovsk.
The first arrest was short-lived, but sufficient to reject the impasse of the underground. After release from the prison together with new friends and acquaintances he got firmly on a path of open defence of religious and ethnic minorities as well as common Human Rights.
The demonstration on Pushkin Square in Moscow on December 5, 1965 was the birthday of a public opposition to the power of the communists. The struggle for Human Rights and the protection of religious and ethnic minorities led to the second arrest of Petro Grigorenko, and then to expulsion from the USSR.
In emigration, Petro continued his human rights activities, created and headed the Foreign Representative Office of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, spoke in the press, met with leaders of various countries of the world.
Petro Grigorenko died in New York on February 21, 1987 and was buried in the Ukrainian Orthodox cemetery of South Bound Brook, New Jersey.