SHABATURA Stefaniya Mykhailivna
author: Vasyl Ovsiyenko
Vasyl Ovsiyenko: on June 26, 2008, Vasyl Ovsiyenko recorded conversation with Mrs. Stefaniya Shabatura in her Lviv apartment.
Stefaniya Shabatura: I was born on November 5, 1938. Those were difficult times for Ukraine. My father served then in the Polish army, because we were under Poland. And then Ukraine had its short-living chance. All of it ended very soon: the Soviet troops invaded these lands and occupying Western Ukraine they told that they came to liberate us from Poland. Then my dad again went to serve in the Army, but this time it was Soviet Army, because he was called to the colors in the thirty ninth. Mykhailo Hnatovych Shabatura was my father. I was a peasant by birth.
Somewhere in the seventeenth century our village was devastated; the Poles relocated some people to other places−I’ve read about it−and some people simply perished. Maybe, only separate individuals survived that bloody battle. And it was placed on record that Shabatura reestablished the village. This family name is rather rare here.
V.O.: What does it mean?
S.Sh.: I read once that “shabatura” meant Kozak bag, or “shabaturka” a small sack. I was also told that shabatura meant the skin for parchment. The latter meaning is an old one and later this noun meant a Kozak leather bag. Maybe, my kin of Shabatura are from the eastern Ukraine; maybe, they came with Kozaks, with our troops. I learned that the surname of Shabatura existed somewhere in the Mykolayiv Oblast.
And the family of my mother were rural sculptors.
V.O.: And what is your mother’s last name?
S.Sh.: Semanyk Anna Mykhailivna. My mother was born in 1914 and died in 2004. And my father was born in 1913; he did not return from war and was considered a missing person. The Museum of War informed me that he was itemized as KIA near Kharkiv. However, he is a missing person. There was violent fighting there.
My mother’s antecedents were rural sculptors. They made funerary monuments, and when a church was built in our locality at the turn of 19th and early 20th century, the architect employed them as helpers, because they were good stonemasons: the father and his four sons, all of them were stonemasons. They made not just ordinary crosses, but monuments. They loved very much to make Saint Nicholas as well as cut various graveyard figures. And when the church was built, they learned to build the church.
A Polish landlord had his estates there. Once one of Shabatura’s sons was transporting a monument to a nearby village. The road ran through a valley and a bog. Suddenly there arrived the landlord’s servants and said that he should make way for them. He answered: “I cannot leave the road, because I would be stuck and would not be able to pull out my load”. And he did not submit to them: they had to take the bypass through the swamp. However, when he was returning home by the same way they caught him and drove a rusted nail into his private parts. A horse brought him home, and he died. That was awful. This even triggered hostilities… Then another son went to the manorial wood to pick berries. And he was shot dead. So he lost two sons. He told to his wife and kin: “To put an end to this evil−because I can’t stand the sight of it−I’d better get away as far as ever I can.” He took two sons with him and emigrated to America, while his wife stayed at home. He was in correspondence with her, but all of a sudden he stopped short and we had no idea about his whereabouts. I inquired for his address, but his next of kin also got no letters from him.
Roughly in 1993 or 94th I visited America: Saskatoon (central Saskatchewan, Canada). There one man approached me and said: “We’re, probably, a family, because I’m Shabatura as well. Indeed, I’m already not Shabatura, but here is my mother, she will tell you”. I met a 95-year-old woman. And she let it all hang out. It appeared that she knew those immigrants from America to Canada. They lived next door, she knew them. One son married there, the second remained unmarried. They built churches. They did not sculpt any more, but built churches having learned how-tos here. So that’s the whole story on my mother’s line.
After the war we remained with my mother alone. Of course, it was a distressing time for my mother. The collectivization established the frightful regime of serfdom.
V.O.: It seems, you did not name your home village.
S.Sh.: I was born in Ivane-Zolote Village, Zalishchyky Region, Ternopil Oblast, on the bank of Dnister; the downhill street led to Dnister. It is a wonderful place, wonderful nature, and my beautiful village.
I went to school. It was a junior high school, only seven grades.
V.O.: When did you finish your seven-year school?
S.Sh.: Wait a minute, I have but a hazy recollection. Then I went to a high school in Zalishchyky. At the time they avoided issuing certificates in order to prevent further studies; but it was settled somehow. In Zalishchyky I finished the eighth grade. There was a teacher (I forgot his last name, his name was Markiyan) who flung insults at village children. The children might exert themselves, but he teased them all the same. It was something terrible. He was too ready to dish it out and many children had simply to quit. Somehow I managed to pass the exam and finished the eighth grade. But I saw him eliminating those children and guessed I was next; I couldn’t resit for the exam and I did not like the idea of staying down; I had to finish the school. I decided to take flight from that school; actually I escaped from the teacher. And he taught us Ukrainian language and literature, even not math! It was something terrible. I went to a nearby school in the Potochyshche Village across the Dnister; I graduated there.
After war I made some money on the side… People urged me: “You just try and paint small icons; people need them and you just paint. They’re readily salable; you’ll beat out,” my auntie tried to persuade me. I began painting for people to get a little bit behind one. However, the supervising teacher made the rounds of the villages of his pupils and heard about my painting icons, because everybody knew it. I was upset about it, but I didn’t become the target of gossip, even the principal kept mum; on the contrary, when we were late (on Mondays children returned from their homes to Potochyshche), he took to ask everybody, but me: “Though she’s been late, she’s painting icons, she’ll make her mark.” Ivan Ivanovych was from Husiatyn. I finished that school; there were no sadist teachers in it.
V.O.: When did you leave the school?
S.Sh.: I must have a think and consult my papers first. I decided to join the higher educational establishment. My uncle had graduated from the Chernivtsi University; he was a vet and could help me. But I wanted to do it on my own. I made inquiries, where the art schools or institute existed in Lviv. I went to Lviv. I practiced painting, but never saw a living artist and hadn’t a slightest idea how to use paints; I painted higgledy-piggledy. When I came to our institute and showed them my homework, they didn’t comment it, they refused even to register my documents. The refusal read that I was unprepared. I made new paintings and once more the said: “You are not prepared; you will not enter the institute. A person may join our institute after finishing art school, with diploma works, life classes in art, and your works are amateurish. Try and finish the school.”
So I went to the art school. Usually they don’t admit the tenth-grade pupils.
V.O.: And where was this art school?
S.Sh.: The school was here, in Lviv; they now call it a college. I barely joined the school as a candidate; as far as I remember, on November 10 I was accepted as a student. All’s well that ends well. I worried about it, because the collective farm, the village council was not disposed to issue a certificate, so that I wouldn’t continue my studies. But my mother haunted their threshold and they issued the document. Later they established for her such daily work quota she could never fulfill herself, because there was nobody to give her a hand. Women leave only half of the quote, and my mother did. The regional party secretary said: “You have nobody to help you? What about your daughter?” My mother answered: “Well, she’s a schoolgirl.”−“You just wait and see: we’ll write a note on her painting icons, and she’ll come running here to fulfill the quota.” My mother wrote me about it in a letter. I went through a bad stretch. Our school headmaster Tarasov was a war vet and lover of rigorous training; he watched over kids… something terrible. I was distressed for it. And Zalishchchyky Regional Party Committee Secretary was born in our village. I have no idea now who exactly didn’t give a go-ahead: either he or our school headmaster… For example, one fourth-year student was expelled for secretly drawing a church. They found out and he was expelled from the fourth year. I took it hard.
I finished the art school and entered the institute. I graduated from the institute. I had nothing to fear: I’ve got full marks in drawing and painting. So I had educational qualifications now. I joined the Association of Artists. I took part in exhibitions, because if you stood for the association membership you had to exhibit… the same is now, but at the time it was especially important: you had to exhibit a lot to enter the association. I managed to defend my degree work. The association’s chairman attended my defense and said that only for that very work I could join the Association of Artists.
At the time there existed such position as the creative director of folk masters. I applied for the vacancy. I was not accepted for employment. I think it happened already in 1969-70. Then we went round carol-singing, with a puppet show booth; at the time the KGB had already put a tail on me. I was not accepted because I was not selected from among other candidates. They told me: “If only you were a party member…”. And I responded: “Is it really necessary to be a party member to be an artist?”
It began in 1967. I popped into their view after we went to the open court hearing Chornovil’s case (on November 15, 1967. - V.O.). They chalked me up then.
V.O.: And who accompanied you to the court then?
S.Sh.: Many Lviv friends came, e.g. the Kalynets. There were such Kyivites as Ivan Dziuba, Lina Kostenko, and Nadiya Svitlychna. There had been people who hadn’t been under arrest yet. There were many people. The court was open, according to that article (187-1, “casting aspersions on the Soviet reality”, - V.O.) there was no alternative and they had to stage a public hearing of the case. But they found a small room and all seats were taken. The militia on the threshold kept everybody out. But at dinner-time we broke through. We pushed away those militiamen, broke through and actually packed the hall: we shared it fifty-fifty.
At the same time I participated in literary soirees. You may remember that the sixties a kind of natural national revival took place. There were no special organize: just a natural process. I always tried to participate. I was already on friendly terms with the Kalynetses, Horyns, and some other people. We forgathered, organized soirees, even at home.
1970 came. We went to Frankivsk to attend the open court hearing of the case of Valentyn Moroz (on November 17.--V.O.). That was our stand. Nobody believed, but there was a feeling that we might be arrested at the drop of a hat.
V.O.: Were there any signs of it?
S.Sh.: There were some. I remember Chornovil told that some KGB chief or general was in Moscow and Brezhnev asked him about samvydav, how many publications they had. He named a number of them and Brezhnev asked: “Can’t you fix it?” That was a sort of order.
V.O.: There was the secret resolution of Politburo of the CC of the CPSU on the samizdat from June 28, 1971.
S.Sh.: It seems somebody set out this lead. I think Shelest told him about it.
V.O.: Then Chornovil stopped publishing The Ukrainian Herald Magazine. He edited the sixth issue, but never gave it forth.
S.Sh.: Well, I think he simply was short of time, but it is unlikely that that was the cause. Only such actors as Shelest were well-informed at the time. Shelest did warn.
V.O.: Did you possess samvydav publications?
S.Sh.: Yes, I did.
V.O.: What did you have?
S.Sh.: I had Woe from Wit by Chornovil, Amidst the Snow by Valentyn Moroz about Kosmach church…
V.O.: What about The Ukrainian Herald?
S.Sh.: No, I hadn’t The Ukrainian Herald. We were arrested, as they say, on suspicion of participation.
V.O.: Did you possess Dziuba’s work as well?
S.Sh.: I read it, but I do not remember, whether it was confiscated; I cannot recollect. I had a small collection of poems of Mykola Kholodny typed by Gel as samvydav. He presented it to me just on the eve of arrests, for my birthday; it was typed immediately before my birthday.
V.O.: Excellent gift!
S.Sh.: There were some more poems. Symonenko’s poems we copied, like Ukraine and some more. I liked them; therefore we copied them and learned by heart. They found those crib sheets, they thought they found samvydav and confiscated them.
V.O.: Here’s the photograph showing Vasyl Stus, Liubomyr Popadiuk, two Sadovskys, Iryna Kalynets, Olena Antoniv, Mykhailo Horyn, you, Maryan Hatalo and Olexandr Kuzmenko. I also have it. When was it? On January 9 or 7, 1972?
S.Sh.: It was on January 1. (Iryna Stasiv-Kalynets maintains it was on January 9, 1972.−V.O.).
V.O.: Why were you dressed like carol-singers then?
S.Sh.: Wait. They banned the puppet shows on Christmastide and we timed them to coincide with the New Year. At the same time they allowed to celebrate the Soviet New Year. So we made New-Year puppet shows. It was on the New Year. Vasyl was in Morshyn then, or was undergoing treatment somewhere; upon his arrival we made rounds together. When we were passing the KGB on Dzerzhinski Street, Iryna noticed that despite the New-Year holiday the windows shined. And then Iryna said: “Hey, something’s wrong, they’re cooking up something. This New-Year illumination of their offices bodes ill?” Not one, but many offices shone. “They’re contriving something.” Iryna felt it intuitively, as they say. And Chornovil added: “They’re contriving arrests, just wait and see.” It broke out soon after the New Year. Then it was on January 1. Vasyl arrived on January 9. He was already on his way to Kyiv.
V.O.: Someone maintained that the picture was taken on January 9, and I wrote so even in my book.
S.Sh.: No way. It happened on the New Years’ Day. Before that Vasyl visited me on my birthday on November 5. His treatment here lasted for quite a time. Your dating is inaccurate: birthday is on the fifth, not the sixth.
V.O.: At least in the Internet I will correct it.
S.Sh.: Then we met with Vasyl. Later the interrogator asked if he had such folder−they showed me one−when he visited you. I answered that “I don’t remember, I paid no attention to folders. But show, please, what is in it.” I was curious what was in there. There was some article about the communist party, the Ukrainian one. Have you heard about such one?
V.O.: Was it a manuscript?
S.Sh.: No, it was a typescript. And they attributed it to Vasyl. They didn’t tell where they had found it, but asked, if it belonged to Vasyl. I answered: “I saw nothing of the sort.” And then I suggested: “Show me it, I will see if I can remember it”, and then I read the heading. If my memory doesn’t fail, it was about the communist party.
V.O.: I know that there was a project of Vasyl Ruban “The Program of U-Communist Party”. They wanted to incriminate it to Yevhen Sverstiuk. While conducting the search on January 12 they confiscated this typescript.
S.Sh.: however they asked me for some reason, if Vasyl had it.
V.O.: They interrogated Sverstiuk as well, but Sverstiuk said that we couldn’t have anything to do with such a primitive text.
S.Sh.: Right, It happened so. And Vasyl lived through it.
V.O.: But did they put you under arrest? Can you go into details, please?
S.Sh.: Before it, here in Lviv, the Congress of Creative Young People took place. Vlad organized it. The opening of the Congress of Creative Young People took place in the Museum of Lenin. Many creative personalities were invited to the congress. The strong criticism of Kalynets, his small collection of poems was already under way. I’ve forgotten its title; it featured the pysankas on the wrapper. It was his first published collection. (The first collection of I.Kalynets Kupala Night Fires was published in Kyiv in 1966. The book was suppressed in Western Ukraine.--V.O.). We were surprised. After the developments in the Museum of Lenin, all of us went to Briukhovychi in the evening. There we had to spend the night and go on with the congress on the next day. I could not go there, because I had to see off one such Olexandr from the Kyiv observatory going to Carpathians, I’ve forgotten his last name. I do not know, what his occupation was, but he worked at the observatory. He left me his rucksack and went somewhere. And when in the evening everybody went from the museum by bus to Briukhovychi in the evening, I had to stay at home, because Olexandr had to take his things. The same happened to Mariyka Kuchmar and Iryna who had to go home, too. But Kalynets went. And we were supposed to go in the morning.
The following day, in the morning, a bell was heard at 6 am. I answered the door: “Who’s there?”−“Telegram.” I opened the door and nine people headed by the chief of investigation department broke in.
V.O.: Where was it? Name the address, please.
S.Sh.: It was on 116/2, Kutuzov Street, now Ternavsky Street. I understood that it was a search. “On what grounds?”−“In connection with the arrest of Chornovil.” I asked: “Has Chornovil been arrested?”−“Presently, yes.”−“Am I also under arrest?”−“We suspect that…” I asked: “Why was Chornovil arrested?”−“In connection with publishing samvydav and the Herald Magazine. We suspect you of possessing materials. Hand them over to us, please.” I answered: “I have nothing of the sort.” Well, they began searching. I said: “The search warrant, please.” I’d already read the samvydav of Chornovil and knew that it was necessary to require a warrant. I said: “Show me the search warrant, please.” And they did not have one. I said: “Then I do not allow you to search. You’ve just illegally broke into my apartment!” They retorted: “We will have it any moment now.” I said: “So, fetch it and then start searching.”−“Don’t worry! We will fetch it.” They kept searching from 6 am till 7pm. There looked through all my books one by one.
V.O.: It happened on January 12…
S.Sh.: Right. All day long they kept going through the hassle of leafing over those books and poking about. And Olexandr came, that one from Kyiv, to take his rucksack. They jumped to him on the threshold. Searched him and found samvydav on him. Afterwards I read the protocol… Where did he get it? “Where were you?” I have his things, but where did he spend the night? He said: “I had a sleepless night and kept romantically roaming about the wintery streets of Lviv.”−“And who gave you this?”−“Nobody gave, it lay on the bench and I took to read. I saw that something was written there, but it was too dark and I took it with me to read later…” Olexandr was a flippant guy. He was searched and taken away for further interrogation. Then somebody else came and also was searched. Then Kalynets knew, because we failed to arrive in Briukhovychi. If things were to be done twice all would be wise: if I had gone, I might have escaped it. Because Kalynets was arrested only in May. It’s in the cards.
V.O.: How was life treating you under arrest?
S.Sh.: Under arrest, it was interesting to know what’s what. I found myself in a cell, as I understood later, with a woman squealer. But she did not like staying with me. Maybe, she hadn’t been properly trained yet. She was a Lviv resident. Later they took her away and planted an efficient informer.
V.O.: A career-oriented stoolie.
S.Sh.: Right. An interesting phenomenon. She’s probably a con; maybe she was transferred in connection with a new narc case opened by KGB. She gave me her guff and I talked rubbish in return. I told her about my mother, and she told about her dad. Once in my dream I understood that she was a squealer. Such a vivid dream. I dreamt I was lying on my bed and the cell door clattered opening; then a senior gray-haired man appeared in the embroidered shirt and asked her: “What are you doing here? Leave this place! Get your possessions and out you go! You have nothing to do here.” you! She started blabbing something and my dream ended. I told her: “Listen, I saw your dad in a dream.”−“My Dad? How?” I retold her the dream. She pestered me with questions. A bit later they led me out for interrogation; when I returned, she asked me again: “Please, tell me once more about my dad in your dream.” Maybe, he had been dead already. Such a dream I had.
V.O.: And what were the consequences in relation to her?
S.Sh.: She did not make a clean breast of it, but I knew, who she was. Toward the first one I had a sort of biological intolerance, I could not stand her, but with this one I managed to get on. She’s better than any other rotter. But she was soon taken away, and she pinched some of my belongings. I was taken away for a walk at the time. My mother brought me a heap of various clothes and in my absence she picked what she liked. All of it really came to pass.
V.O.: Who was your investigation officer?
S.Sh.: He was from Dnipropetrovsk, his name was Pokhyl.
V.O.: Pokhyl! Alive and kicking!
S.Sh.: I’ve forgotten only his first name and patronymic. Something like Olexandr Yakovych. It was he whom I told that the better times would come. He argued: “I bet you’re wrong.” I maintained that there was nothing wrong in my conduct; I did nothing to the detriment of a person or the state. And you sin against me and conduct a crime… against my mother, and me, and the state, because an able person must work for the benefit of the state. And your actions contain legally defined crime. I told him: “Time will come, when truth will win.” He retorted: “Do you still pin hopes on such times?” I said: “Certainly I do. Where are your predecessors? Those who executed by shooting? If you and I relived those times, you would have escorted me to face the firing squad already. And where are now your heroic predecessors? And about those, whom they tortured, the memoirs are already being written. He asked: “Who writes memoirs?” I answered: “Yuriy Smolych has already written a number of books covering the events of the ‘20s and ‘30s, the later times will follow next.” And he said: “The place of Smolych is in the dock together you.” He maintained the same, when I talked about the article of Moroz about that Kosmach church “Amidst the Snows”. I told him: “There is no crime in it, there is only pain for those works of art from the church that had been stolen during the shooting of the “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”. Moroz cannot be tried on such charge, or can he? Oles Honchar wrote the book “Cathedral” grieving for destruction of our wonderful historical Ukrainian architecture.” And he said: “And Honchar should also join you in the dock.”
V.O.: In his novel Cyclone written after the Cathedral he also mentioned the theft of those icons.
S.Sh.: Such were our conversations. All of a sudden he asked: “When will those times come?” I answered: "Well, you give us a ten-year term: the first-timers get up to ten years, second-timers… Well, another ten-year term. After that poetry of Stus and Kalynets will be printed and samvydav will be printed, and you will be long forgotten.” He asked: “Do you really believe in it?” I answered: “Sure, I do.” He suggested making a match. I said: “If even I win, I will give you that winning back.” He staked two bottles of cognac, and then I said: “I will return them to you, but I know that I will win.” Such were our disputes. And it happened indeed. I have no idea why I’ve touched upon it, but it did happen. Ten years after my discharge, because Ukraine became independent in the ‘90s.
V.O.: You were tried alone? They opened the case only against you?
S.Sh.: Right. At first they tried to initiate an action against a group, but then they came to a conclusion that these specific cases could not be brought together. They tried to stick Dobosh to us, but in vain, and decided to re-qualify them into individual cases.
V.O.: And they failed to concoct espionage cases.
S.Sh.: Right. There was an investigating group under Boyechko.
V.O.: Oh, well-known figure!
S.Sh.: Yes. When I returned (and, you know, we were in contact with the Moscow dissidents), Iryna… She’s from those Moscow dissidents. She called me and said: “One of ex-convict Baptists returned. Could you go to him and make inquiries?” They needed to know certain concrete dates for information: when he was arrested, how long he served, when he was discharged, such things, nothing special. She gave me the address, I went there; he lives here at the beginning of Zelena Street. It turned out that his name was Boyechko, Boyechko’s brother. He headed the unregistered Baptist Church. When I came to him… First, I gave him a buzz and he invited me: “Please, come.” I came and started asking him: “By the way, Boyechko…?”, and he answered: “Yes-yes.” I’d just given a hint of it: “By the way, Boyechko…?”, and he answered: “Yes-yes, he is my brother”. I went on: “Well, but he… And he answered: “Well, we’re as different as chalk and cheese.” I queried: “Well, but he…”−“Yes,” he answered, “not once he was sent to talk to me, but we serve different purposes.” Such was his story. But I made sure that that Boyechko was his brother indeed. Later, already in the ‘90s, I was walking along the street and suddenly a man came up and asked: “Stefaniya Shabatura… do you recognize me?” I answered: “No, I do not.” And indeed I did not recognize him. He went on: “Boyechko… does it ring a bell?” I exclaimed: “My God, now then… are you Boyechko?” I saw he was tipsy. I asked once more: “Are you Boyechko? That same great investigator?” I went on, “You seem to be on the downward path.” And he was really drunk. I proceeded: “Then you seem to be on the downward path? What if you, like us, had served your time? Why had you cast prudence to the winds? And if you had served your time dungeons, your prisons, banishment, Siberia… Why have you touched the bottom?” He replied something. And I went on: “You know that you have a brother; turn to him and he will help you to regain your footing. The church helps the backsliders,” I suggested, “Just go and he will help you.” So, I’ve seen such Boyechko, ginhead.
V.O.: Interesting, interesting.
S.Sh.: Then there was such chief of operative group Shumeiko; he ruined himself by drinking, too. There was also such a guy as Yuriy Ivanovych. When I was discharged, he kept shadowing me everywhere. He also ruined himself by drinking. When that Shumeiko became a drunkard, somebody saw him in the gutter. Yes, it did happen.
V.O.: Well, and how did the trial go over?
S.Sh.: The hearing of my case was on July 12 and 13, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
V.O.: Do you remember your judge?
S.Sh.: His last name was Khomyak. Or Khomyshyn, I’m not sure, and my public prosecutor was a brother of Prosecutor General Rudenko. Rudenko… I can’t remember his first name.
My friends gathered in court, those, who were not afraid. They waited near the courthouse to see when they would convoy me from the court. My mother came as well. After all, they conducted a secretive trial and kept my mother out. There were some representatives and their men, while my mother had to stay in the corridor. When they convoyed me on the first day they made semblance of going through the central entrance and my mother stood there while in fact they used the back door. My mother was in the corridor and I saw her. My mother managed to give me flowers, carnations: they were from Bohdan Horyn. With those flowers they led me through the back door, and I kept those flowers till my mother could see me. Having led me through the door, they started taking them away. I jibbed, but they did it: “You’re not allowed to keep them.” I asked: “Why? Why did you forbid keeping flowers from my mother?”−“You’re not allowed to keep them in the prison. Give them back!” I go on jibbing. Then he pounced on me and grabbed those flowers in such a way. He snatched the flowers away leaving me some stalks. However, one carnation remained in my hand. When they led me out to seat me in the patrol wagon, all people waiting there on the corner began crying, “Stefania! Stefania!” Waving. They sat me in the patrol wagon and the truck started. So I brought the carnation to my cell… It did not occur to them to unbend my fingers, and I brought that flower to my cell.
On the second day they did so that no one was there: they thought that it would be a one-day trial though in fact it took two days.
I did not worry so much about the trial, while sometimes people take it hard. Not me. The first day everything was fine. On the second day they brought dinner, and I think they added some depressant because I felt debilitated.
V.O.: Yeah, it’s not only your guess.
S.Sh.: Some additive. Tears in my eyes, general weakness.
V.O.: Tension or weakness?
S.Sh.: I had to exert myself in order not to loosen up. It’s a fact. I believe one hundred percent that they drugged me because I never had such feeling in my life.
V.O.: Dmytro Mazur told me the same. He felt the same in court.
S.Sh.: They drugged me to keep me silent. For the time of reading out the judgment they packed the courtroom with the young followers of Dzerzhinski, because they thought that I might say something. They drugged me to make sure I looked weak and couldn’t speak out. I ate some soup or borshch, and I shouldn’t have done it. But I somehow tried my best and said something. I felt that I could not speak. I said that if the government thought I was to blame, it meant I was guilty. I believed that I was not guilty; there was nothing criminal in my case. But if this government considers that I had caused damage to it, well, then let it believe I was guilty.
V.O.: What term did they give you?
S.Sh.: Five years in concentration camp and three years of banishment.
V.O.: Did you refer to the Court of Cassation?
S.Sh.: I did and they crossed out a couple of counts.
V.O.: But the term remained unchanged?
S.Sh.: Right, though some counts were dismissed.
V.O.: Were any prisoners called to witness?
S.Sh.: No. But I gave evidence in the Osadchy’s case. Why? When they considered the episode of samvydav, they said that I had given books of poems of Vasyl Stus to Hrytsko Chubai and Mykhailo Osadchy.
V.O.: “Merry Cemetery?”
S.Sh.: "Merry Cemetery", yes. They told me that Chubai had told it. But definitely it wasn’t Osadchyi. But alluding to Chubai they maintained that I gave the book to him and Osadchyi. Then they said: “Osadchyi, two witnesses maintain that you gave.” I told them that I had not given anybody anything, I had read it myself, and nobody was harmed.—“You gave Chubai and Osadchyi.” I answered, “I hadn’t.”−“But Osadchyi and Chubai confirm; do you deny both evidences?" I said, “Well, if they say it, it means I gave.” When Osadchiy will be tried, I will be a witness. And when I was given the floor, I said that it was unfair, because I had not given any books either Osadchy or Chubai. But investigators told me that Osadchyi and Chubai showed that I gave them a collection to read, and if I denied, I would be given a longer term (it was my interpretation). So the investigators tricked me, and I let it be, just to avoid a longer term. So it was a fraud, and now I go back on my words, because they told lies, and I had not given them the collection. That’s all. It’s enough to make a cat laugh with that collection. And Osadchyi told that if Shabatura told that she gave, and then she gave, he did not remember. And I said, “No, these were the investigators’ words.” Such was the evidence.
V.O.: Well, when they deported you under guard, did they give you an opportunity to take anything with you?
S.Sh.: I could take with me everything left from those parcels. I cannot even remember, it was not so important. Of those clothes Mom brought me I left something and asked to give it back to my mother. I took only the necessaries.
V.O.: In the camp they took possession of all civil belongings. How long were they transporting you?
S.Sh.: They transported me via the Kharkiv prison. In Kharkiv, there was such…
V.O.: Kholodna Hill.
S.Sh.: In that old prison they kept me in the death ward.
V.O.: Oh, I was there too, but I did not know that there was a death ward.
S.Sh.: I did not know as well and came to know only later. The cell featured a coffin-bed with metal sheathing and stone table sunken in the wall.
V.O.: I had a fabricated-frame table like a stand.
S.Sh.: And this stone metal-plated table was sunken in the wall and chairs to match. The coffin-like metal bed and grilled window. I was brought to a solitary cell and there I heard near the window that the prisoners were communicating by rapping with one another. It turned out to be a death row. The next day one such Andriy responded from the neighboring cell.
V.O.: Maybe, Koroban?
S.Sh.: Koroban, he responded. They brought him from a camp to Kyiv for investigation (in Yevhen Proniuk’s case.--V.O.). We made acquaintance then; that is I heard him through the window, but could not see him. Then he told me this, that, and the other. I began requiring to be transferred from the death ward to some other cell. Just imagine that they transferred me to the second floor cell. I stayed there for a couple of days. Then they brought me to the transit prison in Potma and further on to the Mordovian concentration camp in Barashevo−ZhKh-385-3/5. Three hundred eighty five three and there is a women’s ward #5.
On the road from the hospital everybody began to call naming his law article. I did the same being glad to talk.
When we arrived in Mordovia, Nina Strokata from our period had been there already.
V.O.: Yes, She was imprisoned as early as 1971, on December, 6.
S.Sh.: Yes, she was sentenced earlier. There was Nina whom I knew, and all those old political prisoners.
V.O.: Who namely?
S.Sh.: At the time when I was brought there, Kateryna Zarytska had been discharged already. She left when Nina Strokata arrived. They even managed to meet in Potma, there was such a meeting. So I found Nina, found Darka Husiak, found Mariya Palchak. And there also were others from Russia, believers. Then we met all other newcomers. Iryna Kalynets arrived, Iryna Senyk, Nadiya Svitlychna. There was a maximum of 28 women. Or 25. I’ve forgotten. We began to live there and work sewing gloves…
V.O.: Then we are colleagues with you: I sewed gloves too.
S.Sh.: We had some masters, but those masters belonged to the civilian employee personnel, and they helped us to pass on this or that.
V.O.: I have a document about my profession, where they wrote: “electric sewing machine operator”. There is no masculine noun for “seamstress” and they came up with this formulation “electric sewing machine operator”.
S.Sh.: It’s enough to make a cat laugh. We were your neighbors, many times we climbed to the roof, but you were rather inert.
V.O.: I was in the 19th and 17th camps. And there, in the third camp, in your neighborhood, were Vasyl Stus, Vyacheslav Chornovil, and Vasyl Lisovyi. What were the conditions there?
S.Sh.: There’s a barrack containing a sewing workshop, and all of us lived in one room.
V.O.: What clothes did you have?
S.Sh.: We had black work wear and striped clothes.
V.O.: What did that garb consist of?
S.Sh.: As I said, it consisted of work gear of coarse cloth and striped clothes.
V.O.: And what about your headgear?
S.Sh.: They gave us nothing. Some shawls.
V.O.: Nadiya Svitlychna told that you did not carry your nameplates on principle.
S.Sh.: We did not carry them on principle. We embroidered such neckwear to those overalls, all the time we sewed those neckwear and walked so. At first they shouted, and then let it be.
V.O.: People kept telling legends about your solidarity and cultural life.
S.Sh.: In that zone there were Niyole Sadunayte, Lithuania, and another Lithuanian, who had already been doing her time. There was Silva Zalmanson, a Jew, the so called aircraft hijacking case. There was Anna Ivanovna, another Jew from Dushanbe. There were Russian women: Natasha from Nizhny Tagil, young one. There were Russian believers: Truly Orthodox Church.
V.O.: The True Orthodox Church.
S.Sh.: Right. There were 75-year olds and younger. They did not work on principle. Those younger ones were kept in solitary confinement for evading work. I joined them more than once, because I had to. There they wrote various protests and I wrote about violation of my copyright. The KGB pestered my mother refusing to register her in my apartment. It was a cooperative apartment; it wasn’t state-owned and could not been taken away after six months. They did it by intentional design in order to take the apartment for their needs. Plus requests and demands: to stop arrests, to discharge at least women and so on.
V.O.: And there was the campaign in defense of Vasyl Stus..
S.Sh.: It was later, but at first we declared various protests. Then, if you remember, Chornovil, the Day of Political Prisoner. So we observed it by a hunger strike and protests. And then we supported the Armenian NUP.
V.O.: Right, the National United Party.
S.Sh.: On the Armenian Genocide Day we held a hunger strike. Then, when we learned that Vasyl is ill and has an ulcer and is in bad condition, we held a hunger strike as well. But I had frequented the punishment cells before. I insisted on my right to draw, but they didn’t lift the ban. In defense of my mother’s rights, my copyright… all sorts of things. Nobody paid attention. To focus their attention, we resorted to strike and refused to work. This is a violation of the regime, and then solitary confinement followed. I went through the isolation ward in winter, then the second stint, and the third punishment cell.
V.O.: Without going down to work?
S.Sh.: No, we did our shifts. The first punishment cell we shared with Nina Strokata. What for? I don’t remember, but the term was short. Nina was put there because she’d allegedly outraged the boss, and I do not remember my charge right now. They imposed a penalty on us and Nina and I began our punishment-cell era. We were taken to a solitary confinement in Yavas. It was winter, and they disrobed us. We had underwear and stitched warm girdle; they took away both. I did not want to undress, so they tied my hands and took off my garments. I tried to kick them with my shoes, but they took my garments away all the same; they threw us in the solitary confinement only in our work robes, without underwear. Next day we started demanding paper to write to the prosecutor, because it was unlawful to take away underwear. A day later they returned our garments. So Nina and I sat in a solitary confinement. Up to ten days.
Then I begged other questions. I began to require registration for my mommy, demanded to stop pestering her, observe copyrights, and allow me to paint and more. Then they jailed me again. It was relentless frost, 47°C degrees outside. I did time with one of those Russians, believing Christian, Tania. I remember our cell conditions. There were bunks, not those fastened to the wall, but low plank beds; there were big gaps between the planks and freezing drafts from under made our resting on the planks impossible. The barely warm stove had a small protrusion under which we drowsed in turn. First I, then she. Once drowsy Tania fell. She fell down from under that protrusion. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Later, when they saw that I keep my wicket up, in a month or even less, they threw me to a punishment cell followed by another punishment cell. I spent all winter in that punishment cell. We learned later that by the law a prisoner could be punished with a punishment cell only three times in a row, and then s/he should be kept in a ward and in prison. Prison is a bit better than the cooler. And afterwards they began punishing me with a ward.
V.O.: How many months?
S.Sh.: Initially, I was given two months in a ward, and the second time it was six months, because it was a maximum punishment. And again six months. Once I sat with Nina again, and then with those believers, Nadiya, a believer from Vladimir. Afterwards it happened that I spent six months in a solitary confinement. Six months all by myself.
V.O.: And there was a story about jailers confiscating embroidery, drawings, and poems…
S.Sh.: It happened to me. In 1975, they saw that I held my ground −it was Women’s Year declared by UN− and decided to send me for prison education back to my native Lviv jail. They said nothing about the destination, only ordered to go out “with your bindle”. Since I had served all my sentences, we thought, maybe they’ll give me a year of jail and as far as Mordovia had no jails, we thought that they were going to transfer me somewhere else. Well, let it be my bindle and I took the most important things. I had a small list of all my applications, and all my drawings. They confiscated everything during the so called exit check. “We’ll give it back when you’ll return.” And they drove me away. Maybe to another prison, maybe not, nobody knew. They transferred me to Ruzayivka via Potma. They had to change from a narrow to a broad gauge leading to Moscow. In Ruzayivka, I stepped out of my patrol wagon and saw Vasyl Stus! We fell into each other’s arms, they started shouting, bawling, setting the dogs on us, but still we met and embraced. Vasyl was with a rucksack, I…
V.O.: What was the season?
V.O.: So he returned after surgery, perhaps?
S.Sh.: No, it happened before his operation.
V.O.: Oh, yes, I see.
S.Sh.: It was before his operation. (Stus was operated upon for gastric ulcer on December 10, 1975. But first he was brought to Kyiv for “conversation”, and from there he was taken to I.Gaaza All-Union Hospital in Leningrad.—V.O.). We then boarded the train; we were put into the barred compartments. Our compartments were side by side. Vasyl and I had a good long talk. They’re probably listening, but it was no concern of ours. We had a good long talk for the whole way up to Moscow. In Moscow, in Butyrka we were also brought to the neighboring cells. But the ways there were different, because, for example, in Potma they never met your needs, if anyone would like to send something, or communicate… the strict observance of rules. In Moscow the ways were entirely different. I asked the food distributor, “Can you hand a note?” He had a look around, “Give it”, and immediately handed. Vasyl also sent me a note. Foodstuffs were next in turn. I had some food and Vasyl had to go, so |I shared with him, and Vasyl shared with me. No problem. It was easier in Moscow, the rules were more democratic in Butyrka. We talked through the window, even sang together.
V.O.: A duet?
S.Sh.: No, Vasyl sang me his song and I answered with mine. And I had this song since my youth, from childhood, a guerrilla one, to the lyrics of Hrabovskyi, a writer, you know? There were such words: “I dreamed that I was…”
V.O.: Oh, yeah, “Green grove fragrant field…”
S.Sh.: Right, the “Green wood and fragrant field I saw in jail in my dream, And steppes like sea big surges yield In strange land which is dark and dim.” And then: "I dreamed that I was free and Ukraine was liberated, Kyiv became the capital and Moscow failed.” Now, it came to be in Moscow. You were in barred cells in Butyrka jail, and it came into my mind. But Vasyl had not heard such lyrics of Pavlo Hrabovskyi mixed with partisan words. Then Vasyl was transferred by air to Leningrad, and I went also by air to Lviv.
It just made you laugh. I walk in my scarf, pea jacket, felt boots, with a rucksack on my shoulders, and there was the ramp, people standing in line, and I’m straight from the paddy. Even a bit ridiculous. I’m going and thinking: won’t I say anything? If I say something they will say, well, that I’m mentally ill. So on my way I said to passengers, “Make way for the Soviet political prisoner!” That’s all I said. They took me ahead and led to the tail-end of the aircraft. There was a Kyiv KGB officer…
V.O.: Maybe Honchar? Or Ruban?
S.Sh.: Not Honchar, starting with “s”…
V.O.: Maybe Stetsenko Mykola? A blond man?
S.Sh.: Yes, Stetsenko. Was he so famous? Two soldiers on either side of me, Stetsenko sat behind with several other men, and opposite me, where there were single seats, sat another one, with whom they interchanged remarks.
V.O.: So how many of them?
S.Sh.: Two soldiers, Stetsenko sat with two of them… three men, and one opposite me… He wanted to smoke, and, when the flight attendant carried water or what, he called her, and she looked at me, because she knew who I was, and said to him: “You cannot, we are all equal here.” And looked at me: "We are all equal.” So you could not smoke. He wanted to smoke… Then I realized that he also was their guy. Well, that Stetsenko… I asked: “Where are you taking me, what are you talking about? And what if I tell people now who I am?”−“Well, we’ll explain that we carry you to a mental hospital.” I said: “Well, well, let’s have a try.”−“Don’t be ridiculous! Lviv is our destination. Perhaps you will not return to the zone.” Like they were about to discharge me. I said: “Yeah, way you put it.” So he reassured me. So we arrived in Lviv.
It is another story. It came to be on the Day of Political Prisoner, October 30. Or is it the Human Rights Day? I went on traditional hunger-strike. They called me out and ordered to stop the hunger-strike. “We’ve made arrangements for your meeting with your mother.” I said: "Firstly, it has nothing to do with it, bye then.”−“What will you say when your mother will bring you something to eat and you will refuse?”−“I will say that I feel bad.”−“Worst of all, you will tell her that you’re ill.”−“I will not tell her that I’m on a hunger-strike, you can be sure, but this is no secret, everybody knows about October 30.”−“Do you refuse to meet her?”−“No. In my situation I do not say no. Make it for tomorrow.”−“I’m leaving tomorrow.” And that’s that. They did it deliberately. I refused to withdraw an application. I said: “And please send this statement addressed to the Attorney General.” They’re not supposed to bar documents addressed to the public prosecutor. That’s all. I was taken back to my cell. They took me back and called out again, and I refused once more, then they repeated it for the third time. And there, in the Lonsky prison, through the window you can see the outside. And they told me: "Look, your mother has come already and is standing over there and waiting for a visit, while you’re on your stupid bag again as a hunger striker.” And I retorted, “Oh, you like the Gestapo decided to show me my mother through the window? No! We have talked enough already. Tomorrow you will do it.”−“Tomorrow I cannot do it.” –“Well, it means that there will be no visit.” I said: “It’s your problem, but I do not refuse. And let’s have done with it.” I got up and went, as if I can afford to behave in such a way. Got up and left, but going past the window I did cast a glance and saw my mother. She was told to stand not against the wall but across the street, so that I might see her. I went and the visit didn’t take place. It took place later, on November 5, my birthday.
V.O.: What was the pictures’ followup?
S.Sh.: Then I demanded that they give them back. And they answered that I could have them if I returned to the zone, because the pictures were not sent to Lviv.
V.O.: How long did they keep you there?
S.Sh.: About six weeks: November, December… Wait, how was it? There was a new hunger-strike (December 10, 1975, Human Rights Day.--V.O.), and I was in such conflict with them that they decided to transport me back. Some people they kept for six months, but I did not want to talk with them about this and that, and they realized that it was a no-go situation and they determined to evade further hunger-strikes and transfer me back. And then I was sent back to Mordovia.
Back in Mordovia, I immediately started asking them to return me all my pictures, but they said that they were confiscated. “On what grounds?”−“Because you depicted in a veiled form the camp and prisoners.”−“Then give me the act.” They gave me the act. I asked: “Where have you put all the pictures?”−“We destroyed them.”−“How?”−“We’ve burnt them to ashes.” Well, that’s all. I returned to the camp with this confiscation act.
I kept protesting, because it was destruction of property. And so up to the end of the term, I sat in the punishment cells and wards, i.e. in the camp prison. Six months each time, six months even in the solitary confinement, alone. When I returned to the camp immediately before my discharge, I stayed there for a while, and they sent me back to Yavas, to the camp prison until the end of the term, so that I was sent into exile from the cell, and not from our camp. So from Yavas I went into exile.
V.O.: But wait. Once you mentioned that Drotenko trampled on your pictures.
S.Sh.: Right. After I returned and they told me that the pictures had been reduced to ashes, I continued protesting. My mother came to visit me and we were granted a meeting, though a short one: not for three days, but only one. And Drotenko attended that meeting.
V.O.: He was the head of Mordovian KGB, colonel.
S.Sh.: Right, the Mordovian KGB. I asked for one more day, asked the paper to write the application, and they said, “You will write it tomorrow.” Then the man on duty came and said: “You have a guest.” My mother and I were talking. I brought a pencil and we texted. They did not like it, they felt that we were silent too long, and they decided to attend. I spread a cloth on the table, but there was a towel and a piece of paper stuck out, like this. And he saw it… My mother asked to prolong the visit for another day. He said, “Wright an application. Now.” I said, “Well, then give us a piece of paper and a pen, please.” And he said, “And what’s that?” and removed the towel. And there were paper and ballpoint. I grabbed the ballpoint, he caught hold of it, I did not give it back, and he nearly broke my hand leaving a bruise. I then reproved, “Ugh, the KGB chief, and behaves like a thug, came to frisk. The KGB Chief, officer.”
S.Sh.: Right, the KGB colonel. And after this incident we continue talking. He started telling my mother that I was a bad girl. And then he switched over to my works maintaining that I had drawn the camp etc., and I said, “And what about bookplates for children, writers, and artists?” He then pulled my drawings out and asked, “Did you mean these for children?” And he threw them flying, they dropped to the floor and he trampled on them. I said, “I have a right to draw that, there is no prison there.” Then he gathered those works. And since we texted with my mother, they guessed that I had some paper somewhere. And then there were lavatories, it happened in winter, we poured out into the lavatory water after laundering, tea dregs, uneaten food and those bits of paper too. So my mother woke up early, looked and saw the poor jailer digging in the lavatory and taking out bits of paper. Can you imagine? Drotenko snatched something and decided to check whether there were our notes. I said, “God, what are you doing, how can you do this?” The jailer answered, “Well, it’s my job.” Just disgusting. And then, after all, my mother wrote the application, and they gave us one more day. But Drotenko was disgraced, because I kept calling after him: “For shame! The KGB colonel behaves like a pratman.”
V.O.: At the time you protested against all confiscations and destruction; then they also confiscated Vasyl’s poems… And on October 30…
S.Sh.: No, I continued.
V.O.: We also went on a hunger-strike, protested in writing and mentioned all of you by name.
S.Sh.: Right, as far as they confiscated, I did not want to give up. So by the end of the term I kept protesting and sat in the cell.
V.O.: So from the cell they transferred you to Yavas??
S.Sh.: Right. They jailed me at the end of 1976. At Christmas they transferred me. On January 12 I found myself in Sverdlovsk. For us it meant the day of our hunger-strike, day of arrests in 1972. In Sverdlovsk, I wrote an application, went on hunger-strike and asked to isolate me. They isolated me in the punishment cell, but gave a mattress. I asked, “Why cooler? I have to be isolated in a cell, but not in the punishment cell.” Though it was almost the same… There were such dungeons in Sverdlovsk, Lord, there was such an awful jail! There were such underground tunnels. Were you there, or weren’t you?
V.O.: I never was beyond the Urals.
S.Sh.: Those were direful underground tunnels. I went on a hunger strike, and there was a woman in the cell, and she poured soda into the kettle. I was gasping for a drink and there was soda solution… I do not recall how many days I was there. Then I was transported under guard. In revenge they transferred me across the whole Siberia up to Novosibirsk. In Novosibirsk they jailed me in the cell once more. After two days they called me out and said: “You’re brought here by mistake; your destination is Kurgan Oblast.” And they transferred me back across Siberia. In Kurgan I spent the night in jail and the next day they drove me to Makushino. There militia also had cells, I had to be in a cell, because it’s a law: they discharge you from the cell only. I spent several days on the road and my term ended. The days under guard they counted as one for three, so my exile shortened.
In exile, they lodged me in a construction company hostel. In that room already lived a girl. A militiaman gave me one ruble. And the next day I was taken to the City Council and they gave thirty hryvnias. By law, when prisoners return, the government provides such support at the initial stage, so that the acquitted persons did not starve. I telegrammed to my mother that I was there already, on my first day. I went to a store to buy bread, I found that store, and there was another shop, a smaller one; it was full of people and there was a long line. I asked: "What do they sell?” They said, “Gamira.”
S.Sh.: Gamira. I had no idea what it was, and it was embarrassing to ask again. When I returned, I asked: “What’s Gamira? There was a very long line.” I did not know what it was. She explained, “Vodka”. When they deliver vodka it’s bought up in a wink. So I came across this phenomenon in exile, in Makushino, on my first day.
I was employed. Why was I being sent there? For there the Department of Culture wanted to open artistic studio, and by law there should be at least one diplomaed artist; so there was a demand for me, and I was sent there. (Laughs). They opened the studio. There were also two amateur artists. The first picture we did was the map of the area they needed. A sizeable map of their Makushino Region. They fixed it in the Makushino central club. There was painter Vladimir Pietkov and I always reminded him what he asked me on the first day: “Do you have anything to live on?” And I answered: “Thank you for your trouble.”−“It’s not about giving, it’s about lending,” you know, he thought I was offended by his suggestion to give. I said, “Thanks, I already have something." And yes, I explained him. Later I told Volodia: “All my born days I will remember how you suggested helping me.”
We all worked together and produced slogans, stands, and so on. The KGB men did not like it, because the Makushino young people came to visit my colleagues and I was present there. They then began to call them all telling them who I was and what I did, advised them not to mix with me, as far as I was the U.S. CIA resident and carried a gun in the purse. You bet! Once I came and those artists had guests. I came in, and it was raining or something. I entered and they began laughing. I was wondering, “Why are guys laughing at me?” I checked if I’d tidied myself up. I asked: “Guys, what you are laughing about?” They laugh out loud. The handle of my umbrella stuck out of my bag… That is I lost the handle and only a stick showed itself like a gun. (Laughs). They saw it and started laughing: they saw the stick protruding from the bag and began laughing and saying that fuzz men took them for fools and told them that I was dirty so-and-so.
Then Volodia told me that the KGB men tried to persuade him to put me special questions and conduct conversations. They suggested that he would visit them every Thursday or Friday. He did not go. And that was a small town. After some time they met him and asked again, why he had not come? He: “I was short of time.” “Well, we’ll be waiting.” He did not go again. Then they met him and rebuked: “It seems you shirk visiting us.” He asked, "What am I to do?”−“Well, we’ll have a talk.” He asked, “Do you have a job?”−“Yes.”−“You work?”−“Yes.”−“I have a job too, are you going to do my job?”−“I’m no good at it.” He retorted, "And I don’t have a knack for it.”
V.O.: To squeal.
S.Sh.: “I do not know how to do your work. Do your bit yourself; I’m not going to help you with this. I have family, kids, work, I have to earn my livelihood… why should I help you do your bit? Am I your servant, why should I work for you? Do your stuff yourself.” The wife of the KGB man worked in a kindergarten and Volodia had two children in the kindergarten, so she started revenging herself upon those children. She maintained that children were abnormal, mentally ill−and he had such sweet kids−and that they should be treated in a mental hospital. In Lviv we call it “Kul-parkova”. I do not know how they call it in Kyiv.
V.O.: “Pavlivka” or “Hlevaha.”
S.Sh.: Well, Hlevaha and there they have their local slang. Allegedly the place to treat those kids. Well, passions flared up. Then he asked me, “Did Igor tell you?”−“No”.—“I see…” said he. And he told me. And I think, well, why is this puttering about? So that’s my exile story.
Then the prosecutor came. For in the camps we supported Armenians. And at the time there was an incident in Moscow, something happened in the subway, something like explosion.
V.O.: Yes, Zatikian ...
S.Sh.: And an Armenian was involved. So they came to me. And we had our studio near the prosecutor’s office: the doors of the office and there was a courtroom, but the court vacated it and we set up our studio in this courtroom. So, the prosecutor’s office was across the corridor from the studio. The local prosecutor calls me and the Kurgan prosecutor came to this time. Our prosecutor did not fancy that I might speak with the prosecutor and investigator like this. Our conversation took place in his presence. I do not recall how it was, but the fact is they were not used to such diction. The Makushino prosecutor told me: “You behaved in such a manner…” And I said, “How? It’s a normal behavior. I’m afraid of nobody. First, we did not do our time with the Armenians. Even if there was an explosion, my acquaintances would not commit it.”
I called out again after the second arrest of Lukyanenko. They seized his greeting cards: we all mailed to each other a couple of times a year. They questioned me about Lukyanenko.
Even before the discharge a militia chief said: “I’ll be on my way now, all your papers are ready, your testimonial… everything is fine. In my absence my deputy will act for me.” Earlier we had a conflict, but he came into the studio and apologized in front of all of us, and then everything was fine. He mentioned my testimonial and I asked: “What kind of testimonial did you compose?” He said, “Good, don’t worry.” I asked, “Like what?”−“Well, you behaved, did not make a violent uproar, and were not on the drink.” I said, "Why? Do I do my time here for alcoholism, for rows or what? What is this testimonial about?”−“And you went straight”, “did not make a violent uproars, were not on the drink, and went straight.” I said: “Did I come here for banditry, or alcoholism, or something? Well what kind of testimonial is this? I was brought here for my views, and I did not change them. So I haven’t “gone straight,” I go back home with the same views.”−“Well, you behaved.” I said, “Yes, but I could not behave differently, because I had not been jailed for the offences you mention. I was jailed for my thoughts and my views, and I did not change.” Then he consulted with the KGB and called me, “Well, you have only yourself to blame.” He convened the administrative commission, I was called and they began reminding me that I came here and did not go to the polls. “You saw the branch you’re sitting on. And what about your views now?” I said: “I can share my views with my investigator or my prosecutor. I do not intend to talk about my views here.” Then I realized why the KGB staged this frame-up: I would be under surveillance and my round way home would exclude both Moscow and Kyiv.
V.O.: And how one can come round Moscow?
S.Sh.: Nonstop travel. And a train with a different route, under guard. They did not issue me my passport. And I insisted on having a passport. “When you arrive in…”−“No, I will never budge without it, because I know where I stand without a passport. Therefore I’ll stay here unless you issue my passport.” And they did issue me a passport.
V.O.: Did Hryts Herchak visit you?
S.Sh.: Yes, he did.
V.O.: So you have something to say about it, don’t you?
S.Sh.: At first I had visitors from Moscow, from the dissident circles, such Dmitriy and Irina… What was the name of Lenin’s mistress?
V.O.: Inessa Armand?
S.Sh.: Right, Inessa Armand… and that one was Irina Armand, her relative.
S.Sh.: The relative of Inessa Armand, and Dimitriy… Together they visited the exiles: Chornovil, Paruyr Ayrikian, Markosian, and another Armenian… someone else.
V.O.: In Mordovia did their time and went into exile Razmik Markosian, Paruyr Ayrikian, Ashot Navasardian, and Azat Arshakian.
S.Sh.: I do not remember whom they visited that time, but they visited me as well. Owing to them I have a photo from my exile. So they came to visit me, and Igor Kalynets gave my address to Hryts and Hryts arrived (discharged after 25 years in prison.—V.O.). He came without notification.
S.Sh.: Yes, conspirator. He stayed there for a couple of days and went. And I began receiving parcels from America and Canada, so there were clothes for Hryts… and it was in winter. There was a good man’s sheepskin jacket and I gave it to Hryts.
V.O.: Did he tell you about his problems? He was stuffed with the information capsules…
S.Sh.: Yes, he did.
V.O.: I know that you arrived in Lviv and didn’t have a right of permanent residence in your own apartment.
S.Sh.: When I returned, I had to be under observation as a member of the Helsinki Group…
V.O.: By the way, you did not mention how you were admitted to the group?
S.Sh.: How? I kept in touch with Nina Strokata-Karavanska, while at the time of my exile, if everything was ok, they gave me a leave by law, and during my exile I had two leaves in three years. The first time I went by train via Moscow and visited the All-Union Copyright Agency to file an application regarding my copyright. I had to visit Moscow to officially fix it. Moreover, in the camp, you may know it, the corners of men’s and women’s zone were situated next to one another so close that you could communicate. And when on the tower a soldier whom Ayrikian bribed had the duty, we could talk. Actually I talked with Ayrikian, when I had to be discharged, but was taken to a cell in Yavas for six weeks. But I had to be discharged, and he asked me to tell it Lena in Moscow…
V.O.: Sidorenko, it seems to me.
S.Sh.: I was in Moscow, I met with that Lena and retold her the message: the materials he had previously given to her had to be immediately passed over to the West, so that the information could be brought out. I really did not like her saying that they were not in accord with him and believed that it should not be done. Do you understand? She indulged in confidences with me. Such was the reaction. Sure, I didn’t like it. It happened when I went through Moscow.
I granted my consent to Strokata on the phone saying I did not mind. Then I met and had a talk with Zenoviy Krasivsky. And my application was allegedly accepted. Then I joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group.
When I came back (December 2, 1979−V.O.), the militia stalled for time and delayed my registration in order to sue me for violating the passport regulations. Thereby hangs a tale about the registration, it really gets you down; in fact it was taken in return for my Helsinki Group membership. Kalynets returned already, Chornovil returned, while in my case they dragged it out. Initially they made a six-month registration, then they played for time, then again six month; all returnees had already been registered, but me. Finally they registered, because my mother fell ill and needed surgery, and the doctors gave me a certificate that she needed care. Meanwhile, trying to oust me, they took an action against me. The prosecutor instructed to bring a criminal charge against me for violating the passport regulations. Mykhailo Horyn advised me to get registration somewhere in close vicinity, because there was no alternative. I was summoned to the militia and they introduced me to the investigator. He said: "The prosecutor has issued instructions; when they undertake an action, it will be done and finalized, you will be convicted, so I advise you: get registration near Lviv, and then press for your registration here. You have every reason: you have the authorization to occupy the apartment issued for your name, your mother is a widow of the fallen soldier, and so on.” I turned to Mykhailo and we agreed with Mykhailo that he knew someone in the village near Lviv, and I agreed. I went to the chief of militia and wrote an application that due to the investigator’s explanation that I had no right to be registered neither in the capital city nor in the border area, I give consent to be registered in Sokilnyky Town, Pustomytivsky Region, Lviv Oblast. Under pressure and under threat of persecution for violating the passport regulations I have to consent to be registered in the Village of Sokilnyky…” He retorted, “Why, it’s Lviv!” He had told me previously that formally they had had grounds for legal action, to which I answered: “Formally, this is the Village of Sokilnyky, Pustomytivsky Region, Lviv Oblast, and that’s all.” And he said, “Then go home and wait, we should take counsel.” Meanwhile my mother went to the hospital for surgery. Then they summoned me and announced that everything was agreed upon and I might go and register in the village. I said: “Now I will not leave my mother voluntarily, because if I am registered somewhere else, I will not be able to travel to Lviv. So I will not voluntarily leave my mother unattended during hard postoperative period. I won’t do it on my own now. You may put me behind bars right now. If you imprison me, I’ll know that I will not have done it voluntarily.” And I went home. Soon I was summoned again: “Apply to the higher authorities.”
I started filing applications and being turned down each time; so I had to go to Kyiv−and could not keep me under supervision, because I was not registered−in order to apply to the Prosecutor General, because the application filed in Lviv might not reach Kyiv. I went to the Commander-In-Chief as my mother was the widow of the fallen. So I went to Kyiv, it was winter, and I met Vasyl Stus at Rita Dovhan’s place. I spent night at Rita’s apartment and filed the applications. Then Vasyl came, Rita put Kateryna in the pram, or who was it then… No, not Kateryna, but Stefania in the pram and we went to the Botanical Gardens for a walk, and Vasyl went along with us. We were walking and some bloke with a box kept tailing us. This was our last meeting with Vasyl. (It was winter 1979-1980−V.O.).
The registration is a long story to tell. Finally I got temporary registration, then again temporary registration and so on.
Similarly, my employment was also a megillah. With much ado I was employed as a street-cleaner, and they did not like it because radio “Freedom” highlighted it. So they summoned me: “You are already registered, and you can get a job.” And I answered, “I reckon that without you I cannot be employed even as a street-cleaner.” The same old story.
V.O.: And for how long did the street-cleaning last?
S.Sh.: Then I found a job in a textile haberdashery association where artists manufacture models. There my friends-artists worked. So I made designs for the textile industry, for artwork.
Then in the late eighties the changes set in, the Rukh was organized etc. The new life began.
V.O.: I know you got the studio, right?
S.Sh.: Yes, I got it with great difficulty.
V.O.: When was that?
S.Sh.: It happened in the nineties. In this case not the strangers, but friends plotted against me. Such is the human nature.
V.O.: And did you participate in public organizations?
S.Sh.: I can’t recall any demonstrations in the late eighties. We organized demonstrations and meetings. Here on the Svoboda Avenue they dispersed rallies with dogs and beat guys. Such was the situation and blood was spilled. Then Iryna Kalynets and I decided−it was her idea−to organize public supplicatory prayers. Iryna learned somewhere that once in our church there existed such an organization as Maryan Society. At the time the Church had not yet emerged from the underground and legalized as the UGCC. We then decided to revive the Maryan Society. The first such event took place in December 1988. It happened in the aftermath of the Chornobyl Disaster and the earthquake in Armenia. The prayer for children of Ukraine and Armenia took place on the Saint Nicholas Day. We have the Saint Nicholas Church, so we turned to the priest of the church to pray after the Day Hours. But were afraid to see Iryna Kalynets coming. What had to be done? We decided to go to the Metropolitan, but he was absent and we were refused. So, Iryna sent her dad, he was also turned down. But we attended the service of God all the same; at the time only the Russian Orthodox Church was considered legal. The liturgy was recited. We thought that after the service of God they would prayer for children; nothing of the kind. Then we left the church, and near the church there is a cross, and under this cross our priest unbuttoned his coat, showed that he was a priest, showed his stole, and began to pray. There were about 150 people. It was our first action. We celebrated the prayer, spoke a word, and said that now every month we would pray for our children and Ukraine, for God and Mother of God to be our defenders. The following Sundays were unavailable for such prayer because of the scheduled events and we scheduled for January 22. And you know what January 22 means. Near the St. George Cathedral.
V.O.: Was it in 1989?
S.Sh.: Right, on January 22, 1989. The huge billows of believers gathered in the churchyard: about 15-20 thousand people. We initiated the ecumenical prayer service. We also invited the Russian Orthodox Church, which was in this St. George Cathedral, but they refused. When we arrived and began to pray, they began deafening us broadcasting a Christmas carol turning that thing up full blast. But the guys climbed somewhere and cut the wires. There Mykhailo Horyn spoke, then Father Yaroslav Lesiv and Father Voloshyn. After the prayer service Mykhailo delivered a speech and that was the end of it. After that, according to instructions, Iryna and Mykhailo were arrested for organization of unauthorized rally. Iryna was imprisoned for ten days. They concealed her; nobody knew where she was, until she was eventually discharged. However, did not dare to arrest Mykhailo. So it ended. During Iryna’s trial, we were near the entrance to the court house bearing slogans… It is situated on… The Lonsky Prison houses the prosecutor’s office and court; from there we went down the street to the university protesting and carrying slogans “Freedom Iryna Kalynets!” On the way to the University, in the park, we ran into the military cordon. Not the militia, but military units; and they attacked us. They began gripping hold of men and women started defending them. We yelled bloody murder and they got a fright and left, no one was arrested, but everything was torn and broken. And that was the end of our rally.
Then we organized a memorial service for Shevchenko on March 9 or 10. It was not an anniversary of birth, but an anniversary of death. Requiem for Shevchenko: the Uspensky Square, Basement under the Dormition Church. The Orthodox priests were invited as well, but they did not come. We managed everything by ourselves, there were already thousands of people, the street was packed, and people stood on walls. The oblast party committee issued the permission. Iryna, Igor and someone else haunted their threshold but they turned them down. But that was a prayer. Iryna asked, “Well, you’ll chase believers will beat them, or what?” They were at bay. Our program also included the wreath and flowers laying ceremony on the site of the future monument to Shevchenko. And there was a stone laid. There was a clash and people were beaten near that stone. He said, “Okay. You can carry out your memorial service, but no flowers-laying ceremony on the site of the future monument to Shevchenko because no monument will ever be erected there: sooner hair will grow on my palms.” His name was Dobryk (the First Secretary of the Lviv Oblast Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine.—V.O.). We said, “We will pray and the monument will be erected there all the same.” So the atmosphere became less tense. On the one hand they granted permission, and on the other hand they authorized catching and arresting all priests. Only one priest hid himself and escaped. He worked as a stoker, and when they came to arrest him, he wriggled through the window and dusted over the market-gardens. He managed to arrive on time and the memorial service was carried out.
Then we organized memorial services on the grave of Ivasiuk, on the grave of the murdered in 1941 by the Soviets and more. Involved in it was the Maryan Association, a women’s Christian organization.
And then the time changed and things went differently. Then everything was allowed, everything could be done. In the early nineties, still under the Soviets, together with the Rukh and the Memorial we participated in rallies and meetings.
V.O.: On November 9, 2006 Mr. President decorated the members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group with the Order “For Courage”, first grade, including you.
S.Sh.: Right, including me. And how many people are left in the meantime? Twenty or how many?
V.O.: I do not remember exactly how many, but half of the lot are no more.
S.Sh.: Right. And that’s that. We had great aspirations. Of course, Ukraine has established itself; I don’t belong to those who are disappointed, dissatisfied. Of course, we are unhappy, because we would like to score a greater triumph, but even the achieved means a lot. And anyone who says that we struggled in vain, we hoped in vain is wrong, because otherwise it could not be. Because if we had the power, if the first president was like he should have been, then we would have done more. We have a too delayed transition period. Because we did without cleanout, or as they say…
S.Sh.: The lustration. That is what we failed to do and what the Czechs had done. They said that it was undemocratic. So what, they managed to timely do it and said: “Now we have democracy.” But they did it. And we failed.
V.O.: We lacked the will and stamina.
S.Sh.: We lacked it, because we were too saturated with fear, commie ideas and practices, and sovietism. People assuming power here were mostly folks from the past. And now, when they say that Chornovil could do this and that, I say: “I know what he could do, because when he tried to assemble directors of companies in an oblast, those directors abstained from coming and said they gained direct access to Kravchuk. “What could he do? He couldn’t even replace a director. He wasn’t authorized to do it. We were powerless. They stayed in power too long. This is the cause.
V.O.: Half of voters voted for the Russian parties. Russians and Little Russians and Khokhols back the Party of Regions and the Communists. There is no keeping him in check.
S.Sh.: Yushchenko’s background is not like that of Chornovil. Chornovil had practice: his political activities, civic activities, he had command support, he had a team to gain power, but the time was not yet. Yushchenko came to power from the bank, a closed organization. He wasn’t a man of the world. You may remember that Chornovil offered him to go to the polls earlier, but he refused. He refused, because he understood the situation. Later he agreed. He is accustomed to other habits, other lifestyle; he may not be a politician like Chornovil or someone else. But he is the Ukrainian President, the first real Ukrainian President. He suffers from his shortcomings, errors, but he is the Ukrainian President; he better understands what Ukraine is and what it should be, as opposed to the stranger, who’s on a short view and goes after money shoveling billions out of Ukraine.
V.O.: I have one more question. On the snapshot from January 1, 1972, which we have already mentioned and where you are in gypsy attire, we can also see Maryan Hatalo. What can you tell about him? We know very little about him.
S.Sh.: Your essay contained some inaccuracies.
V.O.: I want to clarify.
S.Sh.: He was our buddy, we were friends; he was a good, close friend of Gel and all of us, and I met him as well. When the arrests took place in 1972, all friends were interrogated, including Gel. He behaved sharply. He wanted, for example, to visit me.
V.O.: Only relatives were granted visits. But even relatives were not allowed to visit persons under investigation.
S.Sh.: Non-relatives were not allowed. Once I was summoned for investigation and they informed me that a guy wants to visit me. Can you guess who? I said, “I cannot make guesses, because it’s hard to in my situation.” They tried to touch the sensitive chord. Then they said that Maryan would come to visit me the next day. I said, “I know that you do not permit visits, so you will not cheat me. The identification lineup is another pair of shoes. Then you call a spade a spade.”
V.O.: Such a “visit”.
S.Sh.: “No, he came and said that he wanted to meet you.”−“Well,” I said “Sounds unlikely.” I said: “He also knows that during the investigation you do not grant visiting. It looks like your crafty designs.”
The next day they summon me, I sit down at a table nailed to the floor and wait, and the investigator keeps writing something. I said: “Will it take long?”−“Well, wait a bit.” Somebody called him: “Yes, yes…” I cannot make out the words. Then they phoned again, and again, then he phoned and suddenly he jumped to his feet and ran headlong out from his office, and left me alone. Very strange. Usually when he went out, somebody went in.
V.O.: Yes, they called for the warden.
S.Sh.: And then he runs out, then returns and calls up a guard to take me out. I asked: "What’s the matter? Why have you kept me here, and now you have ordered to take me out? Neither investigation, nor a visit… why?”−“I could tell anything.” And that’s all. It beats me what happened. Later I learned that it was just the day when Maryan perished. So they wanted him to come. He told it Olena Antoniv. And his mother retold me when I returned. Such was the visit: I’ll be escorted and he’ll see; Gel’ll be escorted and he’ll see. He’ll stand there with them and they will show us to him.
V.O.: That you are alive?
S.Sh.: Yes. He will be there with them either smoking or what. It’s funny. Did they mean us to put our best foot forward?.
V.O.: Right, in the company of KGB!
S.Sh.: Utter fools. And their aims clear as mud. His mom told me that in the morning he went to work and told that the KGB summoned him for 4PM. He said that they’d come after him. And added, “I’ll be there sooner than they’d come after me.” He told that to his mother. And the office workers recounted…
V.O.: What was the enterprise?
S.Sh.: He was assigned to a factory as an engineer. The people there heard him saying: “I will atone with my own blood all this falsity.” And then he thrust scissors into his chest. So it was. It was the version of those who had heard. Others said that somebody was present there and at the sight of it he started to run. People cried, “Close the door, and catch the man!” Maybe it was someone from the KGB, and he began to run away… The workshop was big enough and no one was caught or found. So people said that it remained unknown whether he had done it himself or somebody else had done it.
V.O.: They say, only several people were present, right?
S.Sh.: I was not there, but some people heard those words, only they were afraid to speak. This was his protest against the arrests.
V.O.: Do you remember the date of the action?
S.Sh.: I do not remember.
V.O.: In about two months after the arrest, right?
S.Sh.: No, it happened later. I cannot tell it at the moment; I should think back on it. (May 25, 1972. − V.O.). After the trial, my mother came to visit me and told about it. Then I knew that Maryan was no more. After the trial, I was transferred to another cell on Lonsky Street. There were two women. And one of them was from that factory. After the trial, she was immediately taken to the cell. Allegedly the domestic case related to stealing at the plant. And I had already known about Maryan from my mother. When the woman said that she was working at the same factory, I asked her if she knew anything. She said, “I know, I even attended the funeral.” Then she told me, and I came to know more. She told me what my mother could not tell me.
And then the investigator came, because he had to inquire into the on-the-job death. The MIA investigator came and questioned me. During the interrogation the investigator showed me the record of examination of Maryan, I saw several transcripts. When I familiarized myself with all materials of the case, all records disappeared. I asked: “Where are the records of Maryan Hatalo?” The investigator said: “Those transcripts were of little importance and we do not include everything at hand into the case records.” And that’s all. And now, when the investigator came to question me whether I knew Maryan, why did he perish, what was the reason for it, and who’s to blame, I said, “Only the KGB.”−“Why?”−“Because he was questioned, he was summoned, he was threatened, as I understand,” I said.--And the interrogation records existed, because I saw them myself, the investigator showed me them, but they have disappeared now. Why were the transcripts extracted if the KGB is not to blame? Hence, it is to blame and that is why it withdrew the records from my case. I think that only the KGB is to blame.” Such was the questioning.
V.O.: And how old was he?
S.Sh.: I do not know but it is possible to calculate. I believe, as I know it, and as Ivan Gel knows it, he did it as a protest against the arrests. He could do it and it was his decision. And the words that he said: “I will atone with my own blood all this falsity.”
V.O.: End of Stefaniya Shabatura’s story.
 According to modern Ukrainian etymologists, the shabatura means a box or a cover; see: Etymological dictionary of Ukrainian language, Scientific Thought Publishers, Kyiv, 2012, vol. 6, p. 363.
 In fact, this small book of Kalynets was one of the collection (cassette) of small books printed by the Molod Publeshers. The slang term for these cassettes was mass grave.
 Ukrainian slang: funny farm.
 Ukrainian slang: loony bin.