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Karmeliuk (Кармалюк) Ustym Yakymovych
(1787—1835)

Karmeliuk (Кармалюк) Ustym Yakymovych (1787—1835)

Ustym Karmeliuk was a Ukrainian peasant and bandit who became a folk hero known as the Ukrainian Robin Hood. He was born in the settlement of Golovchintsy in Lityn District of Podolia Province. As a serf, Karmeliuk was forced to obey the will of his master. Although he was sent into the army by his owner to fight in the Napoleonic Wars of 1812, he soon escaped and organized rebel bands who attacked merchants and landowners. He was captured in 1814, and was sentenced in Kamenets Podolsky to run a gauntlet of 500 blows. Sent to serve in a military unit in the Crimea, he fled again, returning to northern Podolia. Once again he organized rebel bands in Proskurov, Letichev, and Lityn regions, attracting many serfs. As the rebellions intensified over the years Karmeliuk influenced serfs to join him in other parts of Podolia and in the neighboring provinces of Volynia, Kiev, and Bessarabia. By the early 1830s Karmeliuk had approximately 20,000 serfs following his lead to raid the estates of the Polish and Russian landowners with over 1,000 raids occurring over a 20 year period. The response of the Tsar was to quarter military units in those regions hardest hit by Karmeliuk. Karmeliuk was caught four times and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, but escaped each time, returning to Lityn and Letichev Districts. A tower in the Kamenets Podolsky castle bears the name of its infamous prisoner.

In 1835, a Tsarist posse closed in on the Karmeliuk gang at the house of a Ukrainian peasant by the name of E. Protskova, in the hamlet of Shlyakoviye-Karichintsi near Derazhnia. There, they successfully ambushed the gang. Karmeliuk was shot and killed. His body was brought to Letichev where he was buried. Now a famous statue honors him there. The man who killed Karmeliuk, F. Rutkovski, was given a medal by the Tsar himself and was granted a pension for life.

Karmaluk is portrayed today as a folk hero and a Ukrainian Robin Hood. He is also considered the Houdini of Podolia, as no prison was able to hold him for very long. Affectionately, he is known as the last Haidamak of Ukraine.


Ukraine, 2003, Khmelnytsky monument in Khmelnytsky

Ukraine, 2012, Kamenets-Podolsky fortress

USSR, 1962.11.18, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

USSR, 1987.03.20, Kamenets-Podolsky. Birth bicentenary of Karmeliuk

Ukraine, 1995, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

Ukraine, 2004, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

Ukraine, 2005, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

USSR, 1969, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

USSR, 1975, Karmeliuk monument in Letichev

USSR, 1985, Karmeliuk monument in Letichev

USSR, 1986, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

USSR, 1986, Ustym Karmeliuk

USSR, 1989, Kamenets-Podolsky. Karmeliuk Tower

USSR, 1991, Karmeliuk monument in Letichev

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