ZAVOISKIY Volodymyr Mykolayovych
author: Vasyl Ovsiyenko
V.Ovsienko. It is May 27, 1999. We talk to Mr. Volodymyr Zavoiskiy. V.Ovsienko is recording the interview in his apartment at…
V.Zavoiskiy. Povitroflotskiy ave., No51, apt. 17. I, Volodymyr Zavoiskiy, was born on March 3, 1932 in Kiev. I graduated from school, proper way. My parents come from the village of Dzvonkove. It is a wonderful village in Vasylkiv raion. It is well-known for its beauty, used to have a lot of summer cottages. Famed, or ill-famed, I am not sure how to put it, Korniychuk wrote his play “Come to Dzvonkove”. Here are my father and mother (shows pictures). Mother had no education, but father graduated from Kiev University, called the Institute of public education at that time. Father perished in the front at the beginning of the war, I didn’t know him well. After school I entered the same university, the geology department. There I met Petro Boyko, who had been for long time a radio host. Somehow he became close to me, probably because he felt my liking of all Ukrainian. And I liked to talk with him in Ukrainian, but I had no plans yet for promoting the Ukrainian cause. I was very skeptical about it and generally hardly believed something might come out of it. Like all the “khokhols”[“Ukrainians”- derogatory] I loved the songs, the language, but I didn’t intend to go any further. Petro Boyko, however, debated with me and tried to persuade me that not everything was lost. Nevertheless, I adhered to my own persuasions till I graduated from the university. After I have worked the “obligatory” two years after the university, - everyone had to do that at the designated place – I returned to Kiev and saw the advertisement…
V.О.: Hold on, what were the years of your studies?
V.Z.: I started in 1952, graduated in 1957, for two years worked in Kiev trust in Polissya region. Even while working in Polissya, I sensed that something interesting was going on in Kiev. So I saw that ad saying that young poets were gathering on Dnipro bank over there, near “Dynamo” stadium. There is such a “stage shell” there, where symphony concerts used to be held. I decided to go there. The meeting was dedicated to Lesya Ukkrainka anniversary, I don’t remember which one. Upon my arrival I saw some people there, but we were not allowed to start the celebration: some officials are still not present, then something else doesn’t work – and so it was delayed and delayed…Finally everyone became aware of the fact that there is no sense in waiting any longer, So we decided to celebrate right in the park. Young poets would climb on the benches and recite their poems.
Whom do I remember since then? Somehow I remember Iryna Zhylenko, who recited her politically charged poetry. Alla Horska, I believe, was there too, and Erast Binyashevskiy – that I know for sure. It was later that I had learned that, because at the beginning I didn’t know a thing about the people who had been there – so it was later that I recollected whom I had seen there.
V.О.: So it was Lesya Ukrainka’s anniversary. Probably, it was her birthday day, February 25. Was it winter? Or maybe, it was the day of her demise, August 1?
V.Z.: It was summer, at least, it was warm…It was around 1959. No, even earlier, 1958. The verses of Lesya Ukrainka were recited. And young poets recited their own verses. They did not remember everything by heart, and it was getting dark already, someone had an idea of taking a newspaper (everybody held newspapers in their hands) and struck a match to it to help a poet. Then everyone followed the suit, and it was all very solemn and symbolic, the Lesya’s torch. At least, that’s how I perceived it.
For me that evening was a decisive one. I saw that there are people who think like me, that I am not the only one thinking about independent Ukraine and other things; that there are other people. It amazed me, because I thought everything had been ruined.
At that meeting Erast Binyashevskiy announced that the Club of creative youths has been founded. He invited everyone who wanted to participate in its work. After the meeting I approached him and told him I was not a very creative person, but probably they had some jobs to do – like painting something, or making announcements – i.e. some technical jobs, I could help you. He answered me then: “It does not matter, whether you are creative or not – we need everyone”. That’s how it started; I began attending the Club of creative youths. I listened to Mykhailo Braychevsky’s lectures in that club."
V.О.: And where did this club meet?
V.Z.: There was no permanent location. Neither have I ever seen the leaders of this club, although I knew Les’ Tanyuk was one of the founders, Alla Horska, and who else…Unfortunately I forget.
V.О Sverstyuk, Svitlychny, Ivan Dzyuba used to attend it.
V.Z.: Right, Sverstyuk, Svitlychny. But somehow I never made it into their circle. Braychevskiy’s lectures were held in Zhovtnevy palace, in a small room, where about ten people would gather to listen. Listening to him was very interesting for me. And then I heard about– I’ve got more acquaintances by then – and then met Boris. I believe his last name was Ryaboklyach. He was an organizer – not on the creative side; he was the administrator of the children’s choir “Zhayvoronok” [Lark – Ukr.] He invited me: “Come along, we shall sing”. Well, I like singing, so he did not have to persuade me.
I arrived. I made a closer acquaintance with Erast Biniashevskiy. Well, I am telling you all that inconsequentially….Everything was happening simultaneously so it’s difficult for me to put things straight. First I’ll tell you a bit about Erast. As soon as we met – Shevchenko’s anniversary was approaching and everyone was preparing for it rather diligently – Erast had come up with an idea. We were to be sent saplings of the willow planted by Taras Hryhorovych so that we could spread them all around Ukraine – with clear messge. But we needed the names and addresses of the people who would agree to plant the saplings. So, you go, he said, and find these addresses. It made me suspicious immediately and I shared my doubts with him: “Look, collecting data on people is very dangerous”. I knew it, I sensed it, although I didn’t know all the workings of the machine and was very naïve in these matters. But I could smell the rat right away. To cut a long story short, I refused, saying that it could be really dangerous.
Later he complained to me that he had been driven out of the Club of the creative youths, although he was one of the founders. He lamented that he failed to occupy one of the leading positions there. I disliked these complaints a lot. At the end of the day – was my reasoning – does it matter what office you hold in the Club? Main thing is to do business. I refer to these episodes because later we’ll get back to Biniashevskiy.
Now back to the “Zhayvoronok” choir. I came to them. A little man whom everyone called Yonych was their artistic director. Nadiyka Svitlychna very warmly remembered him. The choir was a solid one – about 70 participants, young people, mainly students, but workers also, people of all walks of society. I was accepted to the choir right away. I attended a couple of rehearsals and felt that there was a deep dissent inside the choir. Later I found out my impression was right. But as Boris Ryaboklach happened to be my first contact, I heard everything from him and hang out with him. We became pals. Eventually that dissent came into the open and the choir dissolved. At that time I met Sashko Martynenko, we became fast friends. I’ve involved him into the choir’s activity and we decided to save the choir. But how could that be done? We visited students’ dormitories in search of choir singers and invited them to come. But whoever we talked to was very hostile towards Boris Ryaboklach. And the choir ceased to exist.
V.О.: So soon? You came there around 1958…
V.Z.: Yes, it happened within a month. I arrived when it was falling apart already. I decided to revive it somehow, being unaware of what a heavy burden it was at the time. But I applied the classical principle “If not I, then who?” And I sensed it was a very potent tool to bring people closer to Ukraine. Sashko Martynenko and I started engaging people to our choir. Some part of the choir remained, and we decided to bring more people. But it was a bit later, while now I want to tell you about another episode, a most unpleasant one. Boris once told me “Let’s go to the Silk works”. That artistic director Yonych conducted a choir there too, working with the girls from the factory. “Let’s go, there will a board evaluating them”. Constantly he was trying to set me against that Yonych. One of the arguments he used was not important for me, but somehow it was for Boris, i.e. that Yonych was a Jew. OK, he is a Jew, but he is directing a Ukrainian choir.
So we came to listen to the choir and saw about ten girls with beautiful voices. They, by the way, attended the “Zhayvoronok” too. This small group had a soloist as well. The members of the board arrived. I didn’t know any of them. They asked the soloist to sing. He did. I felt it was all a provocation, to discredit Yonych. But I should tell you that the girls sang with great application and so did soloist. After that he expressed his views on the low quality of artistic directing. I understood that here Yonych was attacked from the totally different angle. He was very upset with the fact of our presence there. So we lost them as director completely. I still vested some hopes in him when I was reviving the choir. But he was an elderly man and it depressed him so much that he decided not to return to the “Zhayvoronok”. We had to find a new director for the choir, concertmaster and new singers. So we were searching the students’ dormitories again with Sashko Martynenko. I used my Kiev contacts and we have found a wonderful man. His last name was Polyukh. He conducted the choir in the Institute of foreign languages. I don’t remember how I first met him, but we arranged a meeting at the Botanical garden. Boris was also to be present for we had to discuss the issues of the choir revival. We talked about many things and suddenly Boris asked “Aren’t you a Jew?” It was so irrelevant that I wished the earth would open under my feet and swallow me, but I managed to keep silent, for Boris was a big authority for me, while I was a newcomer, who had been around for just a month, knowing no one, no relations, no nothing. Polyukh replied no, he was not a Jew, his remote rlatives were Czechs. But, despite a rude question, he didn’t refuse and agreed to participate in directing our choir. Then I found a concertmaster. I want to stress that it was first-year student of pianoforte department of the Conservatoire Olya Liforenko – a talented girl, miniature and young at the time. She attended all rehearsals diligently, would never say “no”, although it was not easy for her – she studied in the Conservatoire and had no time to spare. Currently she is working in the Conservatoire, has brought up a whole pleiad of pianists, among them famous ones. Twelve of her students have won awards at the prestigious competitions.
So we made up a core. As it turned out Polyukh was a wonderful conductor. He was a person of high musical and general culture, had a good voice and conducted the choir very strictly demanding from the singers high culture of singing. First I thought that we would come out with some real art. My functions included bringing in new members, setting the rehearsal time, renting a room for rehearsal, organizing concerts etc.
We started getting on our feet, but I sensed a kind of solid wall in front of us. May be my mistake was organizing too little concerts, without trying to popularize our choir. I assumed that main goal of the choir was not an artistic achievement but the educational work among the members, propaganda and campaigning. We opened people’s eyes, we distributed information intensely. We brought books and brochures, distributed them among choir members.
V.О.: What kind of literature? What was circulating at the time?
.V.Z..: On nationalistic, educational nature, obviously.
V.О.: What did it look like? Were they typewritten?
V.Z.: Typewritten, naturally. First of all, the verses of the young poets – Ivan Drach, Boris Mamaysur, Mykhola Kholodny and the whole pleade. Second, the texts describing the NKVD crimes. I read Lesya Urainka’s poetry there. That’s how I saw my role. Very soon we started to feel that our activity is not appreciated by the official power. We were pushed out, deprived of the premises. For example, we would come at arranged time, and the premises would be occupied - so we cannot conduct our rehearsal. And if the operation of the choir is constantly hindered and uncertain than eventually the interest is lost and people start leaving. For some time we tried renting premises in the House of scientists, but were refused there too. We had to look for new locations for the rehearsals and finally only a handful of enthusiasts ended up in Podil, in the food factory Club.
I want to mention here that Nadiyka Svitlychna attended our choir regularly. She had a perfect pitch and sang beautifully.
Finally I saw the choir was falling apart. Polyulh left us. As an artist he hoped to make something of the choir, but when he saw nothing was working he left.
I forgot to mention yet another name – Vadym Smohytel. Before Polyukh arrived he conducted the remains of the choir, but then he left because the conservatoire started to press him. Then we invited Polyukh. But we held contacts with Smohytel for a long time.
I saw that in fact the choir ceased to exist, and I had hard time trying to keep it together. At the time I was in post-graduate studies, preparing my dissertation work right away, because I spent almost two previous years organizing the choir.
At that time disputes on national issues started in the university. Choir members and I attended them.
In order to keep at least some of the singers I asked Volodya Nerodenko to take care of what remained of the choir. He directed the university singing group for a long time – what was its name?
V.О.: May be “Vesnyanka”? [The spring song – Ukr.]
V.О.: I knew “Vesnyanka”.
V.Z. “Vesnyanka. It took members of our choir, those who really loved singing. No one would persecute them there.
Here is the story of the “Zhayvoronok” [Lark-Ukr.] choir decline. My feeling was I lacked administrative skills to support it. The choir, you see, was founded by the aforesaid Club of creative youths. Twice they toured Ukraine with this choir and had a strong impact on the audience as far as the national revival went. But when I came to it, we didn’t have even one tour, so that we would go from village to village and sing, I don’t know for what reasons. But first expeditions were just like that, and they filled the members of the choir with enthusiasm. It was on the rise at the time, while I arrived in time to see its decline. May be it was partly my fault. But we were hindered on each step by the officials.
V.О.: But did you have any concerts at all or sang just for yourselves?
V.Z.: My main mistake was that we did not attract big audiences. We conducted concerts and were praised, but it was not for many listeners. May be I was too self-conscious, believing that our choir was not professional enough to go on the big stage. I remember, we were visited by the composer V.Vermenych who offered us his song to perform. But somehow it did not work out, maybe because he was too insistent. At that time I was maximalist in everything. I was convinced that a song should find its way to the singer; the composer should not promote it too strongly. May be, that is why it did not work out. It was another mistake on my part, of course.
V.О.: What did you sing? Did you perform carols, midsummer night’s songs?
V.Z.: We sang Lemky’s airs, as we had girls from the Western Ukraine in our choir. My first wife was from Lemky as well. We offered a classical repertoire, songs to Shevchenko’s lyrics. After the choir collapsed the arrests started immediately… V.О.: It was 1965 already, wasn’t it?
V.Z. Something like that. Two years passed after the collapse of our choir; the banner was raised by the “Homin” [Tumult-Ukr.] choir.
V.О. Headed by Leopold Yashchenko. When did “Homin” come together?
V.Z. I can’t remember because I no longer participated in all that. Vasyl’ used to attend and tell me about this choir. He invited me, too, but my family situation would not permit me to do so.
V.О.: Yashchenko’s choir – it is the year 1969 already, while arrests started in 1965, on August 26 and further on. Ivan Svitlychny was arrested on September 31. Did it affect you somehow?
V.Z. I witnessed it. Now I’ll tell you about it. But first, about “Homin”. Yashchenko fared somewhat better, maybe, due to his energy. Then the [patriotic] meetings started, which was a novelty. He was active in these meetings, among public at large. We, on the other hand, tried to educate our own members. In fact that’s what finished us. Now I want to tell you an episode related to arrests.
The movie “The shadows of the forgotten ancestors” was just released. It ran in a movie theater…
V.О.: "Ukraina", September 4, 1965.
V.Z.: Right, there were many witnesses to the event, and, probably, you heard the story many times, but I’d like to share my own impressions.
V.О.: Please, do, because everyone tells the story differently.
V.Z.: I was late for the movie and took a seat in the last row. I had the projection booths from which one could observe the audience, right above me. Many people were on the stage, and the atmosphere was electrified. It was like that all over the city. I knew some people have been subject to searches. Yuri Illenko (the cameraman - V.О) and, maybe, Serhiy Paradzhanov, are sitting on the stage, although I am not sure. The actors were there, too. Ivan Dzyuba comes out of the audience with big bouquet and presents the flowers to the actors. Then he turned to the microphone and started speaking. We assumed [he said] that the times of reprisals are gone, but unfortunately now we see that everything is getting back, a number of arrests happened in Lviv and in Kiev as well. He barely finished speaking when two stolid guys rose, I believe, from the first row and started pushing Dzyuba from the stage. It was not an offer to leave, but actual pushing. So they pushed him off the stage rudely.
Then I remember, Vasyl Stus jumped from his seat and shouted loudly “I protest!” He was seized immediately and made sit down again. I understood there were more KGB men than spectators at that inauguration. Another man rose from his seat – I‘ve seen him before, but didn’t meet him, so I don’t remember his name. He jumped up and shouted “Rise those who protest!” Not everyone, but about half of the audience rose, making it clear who was who. Then I heard terrible obscenities above my head followed by an order “Put down the lights! Proceed with the movie!” The light went off and the demonstration started.
V.О.: Was Chornovil among those who jumped up?
V.Z.: I don’t remember. Some people in different rows rose before the light went off, but I have no record of that. Then I knew few people, so I might not have recognized Chornovil.
V.О.: What about Stus?
V.Z.: Stus I did know. I met him at Alla Horska’s, at her art studio. Many well-known people, including Ivan Svitlychny, Boris Mamaysur, Yevhen Sverstyuk and Nadia Svitlychna among them used to be there. By the way, Alla did not speak Ukrainian, but was very eager to learn, so Nadia Svitlychna gave her lessons in the Ukrainian language. Life was a whirlpool there. Ivan Svitlychny delivered lectures on aesthetics. Stus at the time was on postgraduate studies. He impressed me with his sharp mind, telling a lot about the destinies of our culture, and providing clarifications and explanation, dwelled upon aesthetic aspects of poetry. I meant to make notes, but unfortunately, it never came to that.
V.О.: On September 20, after that event, he was banned from postgraduate studies.
V.Z. I did not know that. You mentioned Vyacheslav Chornovil. I met Chornovil at a certain point. I don’t remember under what circumstances, but I met him often at the recitals, that’s where we talked. Nobody introduced us formally. I remember an episode. I was sitting in the Public Library and rose to take a break. And there, behind the stairs, I saw Chornovil. At that time Ivan Dzyuba’s “Internationalism or Russification?” was printed, it started to “spread” among people. I heard about it but haven’t seen it yet. So Chornovil approached and asked “Have you read “Internationalism or Russification?” I answered mildly that I’ve heard about it, but haven’t read it yet. “Let’s go, I’ll give it to you!” Turned out he was reading it right in the Public Library. I was preoccupied with something at that moment, because of my postgraduate studies. May be I had to prepare some documents urgently – I don’t remember, so I can’t say. “Well, you, once it reaches me, I’ll read it, don’t worry.” He was beyond himself:”What are you, crazy!? This book? It is betrayal, not to read this document!” I am telling it to show how hot-tempered he was. I did not like it much. Later, of course, the document reached me, I participated in its dissemination, I still keep a copy of it.
V.О.: What did it look like and how did you distribute it? Was it a typewritten copy or a photocopy?
V.Z.: I keep somewhere the fifth or the sixth typewritten copy. It is a volume that thick.
V.О.: Was it bound?
V.Z.: It was, and I even keep Ivan Dzyuba’s photo with it. Nadiyka Svitlychna is on that photo as well, everyone was so young. I keep that paper although it is hard to read anything in it by now. Everything is ruined with time and the copy was, probably, one of the last ones. So, that was my encounter with Chornovil.
I want to tell you about Yevhen Pronyuk, too.
V.О.: He graduated from the University in 1962.
V.Z.: I am not aware of that. I know only that he was a “philosopher”; he graduated from the department of philosophy. He was much younger than I. I met him through Sashko Martynenko. Together they disseminated literature very intensely. And Sashko Martynenko was staying with me at that time. First he attended my choir but then he was fed up with that and came only occasionally, just to check on us, like, what are you doing here, while the real action is ours! They came together with Pronyuk to discuss literature dissemination. The thing is I had all the necessary photocopying equipment: enlarger, camera, so that all was ready for quick copying.
V.О.: And that is what you did?
V.Z. Right. Pronyuk and I made an agreement that he would bring the books and I would do the copying. In fact, he brought a lot of papers.
V.О.: What did he bring specifically?
V.Z.: I had no time to read – the flow of books was very intense.
V.О.: No time to read?
V.Z.: None. And it was forbidden literature, clear. Late at night I would receive it and give it back to him in the morning. It did not last long – the arrests started and he was, as the saying goes, brought to trial. So was I, but later, after Sashko Martynenko, Ivan Svitlychny, Mykola Hryn’ and others had been arrested. I was brought to court as a witness in the case. They started bothering me. I’d like to recollect an episode related to Pronyuk.
Mykola Hryn’ had to stand trial. The court was near St. Sofia Square.
V.О.: Volodymyrska, 15, the oblast’ court.
V.Z.: We were sitting in the witnesses’ room. About 10-12 persons were there. Pronyuk joined us and made himself at home. He brought a whole bunch of papers, and laid them around as if he was in his office (and mind you, it was all books on philosophy, having nothing to do with the current events), like he was writing an essay or something. I was amazed with his calm and cold-bloodedness. Then a guard who had to keep witnesses from communicating with each other, sat beside me.
V.О.: Oh, was there a guard too?
V.Z.: Yes. And I even knew him because he was the one to do a search in my flat.
V.О.: A good pal then!
V.Z Right, a good pal. So he sat beside me and, pointing at Pronyuk, said in friendly way “The gallows groans for him”. I kept silent. He tried to talk to me again, but I kept silent. Then I was called. To reach the courtroom I had to go through a long corridor. The KGB guy takes me out there. Just a minute ago he was making a nice small talk and suddenly, right before opening the doors and letting me into the courtroom he cursed me roundly: “You so-and-so, tell all the truth, don’t try to shirk”.
V.О.: That is psychological pressure – cursing in Russian. Like those chickens are frightened so that they would go nuts…
V.Z Right. And then he let me into the room. There I was asked about books brought from America. There was a book with the title “On the purple horse of revolution”. It quoted the factual data on the numbers of killed intellectuals, predominantly writers and poets. But as the judge sounded uncertain referring to the name of the book, I understood that he did not have reliable information on me having this book in my possession. So I just said I knew about the book and they let me go.
I’d like to get back to Binyashevsky. He was a very colorful person, always dressed exquisitely, wearing an embroidered tie…You have met him, haven’ you? We came across each other constantly. But since that first occurrence which I had mentioned earlier, I was always distrustful of him. By the way, he also attended our choir; he loved to sing, so we had a pretty good time there, but I tried to stay aside from him. By the way, Alla Horska also disliked him, I don’t know why. Later I started to analyze the events of that period, related to him.
В.О.: Yes, I have seen him in his last years. He died about two years ago, right?
В.З.: I don’t know, maybe he did.
He was always surrounded by the young people and kept telling me that the name of “Club of creative youths” was wrong; it should have been named “Artistic club for the young people”. I agreed with him. And after the arrests he published his book “Ukrainian Easter eggs”. (Binyashevsky Erast. “Ukrainian Easter eggs”. – К.: Mystetstvo, 1968. – 91 p.). I was much surprised. Why? Because I remembered his speeches. Everyone was impressed with his courage – he used to say a lot of things that the rest of us would not dare to pronounce. We comprehended the situation and knew that the authorities would never let us go free after such speeches. But he was left alone. Moreover, he was allowed to publish a book, and it was a very nice edition. We used to talk a lot. And another small detail: he would come to the choir rehearsals and during our private talks he would tell me that he had been abroad many times, described the life there. So I would think “How is it possible?” At that time very few people could go abroad.
Another recollection. We came to a store to buy the disks with Ukrainian songs. He selected a disk - I don’t remember which –and started listening, the way they do in a disk store. He listened to it, and then asked the assistant to “put it on again.” And again, and again. And he is standing there listening to it. Meanwhile a line formed, so she advised him that probably it was enough. But he furiously responded “So, are you suppressing the Ukrainian songs?” and proceeded chastising her. The poor woman did not know how to react. So he allowed himself such outbursts at every step and walked away with it. It disconcerted me a lot.
He had something to do with the Institute of biology. I knew people there, and they told me that everyone was afraid of him and would not let him into their circle.
V.O.: Ivan Rusyn also says that Binyashevsky was all around the place, but was never mentioned in the court documents.
V.Z.: Right. Moreover, when the arrests started, a lot of books were found during searches. I was spared only due to the fact that they found almost nothing at my place. I was lucky!
V.O: Was your place searched too?
V.Z.: Twice. They smelled something, knew that I had something, but I, due to my intuitive feeling, avoided them, well, not quite avoided, but managed to hide or to destroy [the evidence]. I foresaw what was to happen and took [the books] out.
So back to Binyashevsky. The books were found in many people’s flats, and when questioned too hard, they would often claim that the books were provided by Binyashevsky. So people didn’t trust him. And it was condemning evidence. By the way, I just committed a sin saying things against him - some trifles were found at my place.
V.O.: I wonder what it was.
V.Z.: A book which caused their deep concern. They asked me where I’ve got it from. It was Sofia Rusova’s book. They were hunting for it, I don’t know for what reason. And Symonenko’s poetry was found – it was also banned, God forbid…And despite the fact that everyone was telling on him he was not “brought to trial”. Well, too much attention I pay him – maybe, he is not worth it, but it was a bizarre personality. Remember the celebration of the 500 anniversary of the Cossacks’ state? We met there, in Zaporizhzhzya. He was as trim as always, as clean. We’ve been living in the tents for several days and on return looked rather dirty, while he remained dressed to the nines. I wondered, if he used to be really their stooge, why would he come to Zaporizhzhya, now that times have changed.. I never understood him. Or maybe he wanted to vindicate himself in the eyes of the people who somehow suspected him?
He remained an enigma for me.
Now I want to avail myself of the opportunity and mention another person whom I respected deeply and always remember with warmth and anguish. It is Sashko Martynenko. He did a lot for rising patriotic awareness of the people, for dissemination of educational literature. He was a true Ukrainian patriot and that is basically what he was convicted for…
V.O.: Three years of correction camps with highest level of security, convicted on march 25, 1966.
V.Z.: His investigator Loginov had questioned me and once asked me brazenly:” So boys, was it nezalezhna [independent – Ukr.] Ukraine you wanted?” He was not even aware of what he was saying. Too little attention is paid to Sashko Martynenko in the memoirs on “shistdesyatniks”, while he modestly, inconspicuously was doing a great job, seemingly, not very visible, but very important. In my opinion, he is not known enough, which is unfair.
V.O.: It depends on people who knew him. He won’t tell it himself.
V.Z.: No, he won’t – he is dead.
V.O.: When did he die?
V.Z.: He was taken to Zhovtneva hospital; he had some problems with his pancreas. In his last days he suffered terrible pains, his condition was horrendous. His wife stayed by him all the time and he chased her away, willing her to participate in the rallies: “No point in sitting beside me –run to the rally!” So that she would return and relate what was happening there. So dedicated he was, big time. But he never saw independence. He died several months earlier.
V.O.: Did he disseminate “samizdat”?
V.Z.: Yes, mainly it was “samizdat” dissemination.
V.O.: Born in 1935.
V.Z.: His brother Leonid was in jail too. He was convicted for giving someone Olexander Oles’ poetry to read; he was yet a minor at the time. It was much earlier – in the 50-ies. After Sashko Martynenko had served his term, he couldn’t find work in Kiev. He was a geophysicist and a gifted one, too. He had to go to Poltava. The surveillance there was so strict that it suffocated him, the poor thing. He was obliged to go with his whole family to Tazovsky, Tyumen’ oblast’.
V.O. Taz river is there. It flows into Ob’ bay.
V.Z.: Right, that is where he lived and worked. But he came back sick…
V.O.: Did you disseminate “samizdat” literature after 1965?
V.Z.: No, after these trials I did not take part in any actions nor participated in any activities.
V.O.: And the KGB guys did not bother you any longer, did they? Could you sense their presence? You were on their “prayer books”…..
V.Z.: Yes, I felt the observation all the time. It was ridiculous, because I knew they were overestimating me. They assumed I made a strong impact, maybe had a group and operated actively, although there was nothing in fact, not after the arrests.
V.O.: Where did you work?
V.Z.: I worked and I still work in the Institute of geophysics. Once I was called to the “department 1” and it was time when Helsinki group was crushed.
V.O.: It was in the late 70-ies.
V.Z.: Right, and they were very much interested to know whether I participated in the Group. They called me to the “department 1”, brought me to a room – I didn’t know about its existence, although I’ve worked in the Institute for two decades. A young man waited for me there. “Do you live in Saksahansky Street?” – “Yes”. – “A man was killed there and we have some suspects. Here, we’ve got their pictures. Do you recognize any of them?” And he gave me a frame made of acrylic plastic. Inside was a bunch of pictures. I took it and he said “Have a look, do you recognize any of these people?” I knew immediately what he was driving at, but I thought that my refusal could give him a sign that I’ve understood. I took the frame innocently and took a look: “No, I don’t know anybody”. “Well, take a look on the other side”. I turned it, looked at it and repeated I knew nobody. “OK, give it back to me”. I returned the file; he took it by the edge and put it back on the shelf. So unobtrusively they took my fingerprints. They wanted them because they knew I used to disseminate literature, and might assume that I still dealt with it. But let me repeat, they found nothing at my place and could only suspect me. Now I’d like to go back to the events of the 60-ies.
When my case was discussed at the general meeting in my the Institute of geophysics the KGB men made all the employees attend … By the way, the meeting is worth mentioning. It is related to Mykola Hryn’. It was then that Sashko Martynenko was put on trial, and Mykola Hryn’, and Ivan Rusyn. First I was called to the director’s office where the KGB guy started grilling me. They said “Zavoyskiy has complete “corpus delicti". They said it, but didn’t explain why I had not been arrested. I came to the conclusion they had no valid evidence. After all, in the 60-ies they at least made an effort to find some documentary evidence instead of just convicting people like they did in the 30-ies. They asked my research assistant Zinaida Olexandrivna –she guided me in my postgraduate studies: “What do you think about him speaking Ukrainian?” And I spoke Ukrainian at work on principle. Many people wondered why, because when I started working in the institute I spoke Russian. So, they proceeded “Zavoyskiy became too proud, he wants to make his point”. But Zinaida Olexandrivna retorted “And I find it nice, him speaking Ukrainian”. I added that I could not do otherwise – we speak only Ukrainian at home, it is my mother tongue. They understood they’ve gone too far, actually had attacked my right to speak Ukrainian. So they started cursing and abusing me! This scandal put an end to the first encounter at the director’s office. I was ordered to come to the institute’s general meeting in 15 minutes.
When I arrived at the meeting, the house was full. I took a seat in the last row. The “inquest” started. The KGB guy took the floor to talk about the threat of the bourgeois nationalism, and I don’t remember about what else. Then they called Hryn’ and demanded that he made public confession – it was the most important part for them. Hryn’ tried to say something to vindicate himself. I do not blame him at all. We worked and still work together.
Then it was my turn. The party organizer asked: “Where is Zavoyskiy?” But I remained at my place. “Come here, Zavoyskiy!”. And I still remain seated, to bait them, at least a bit. And mad he went and started shouting and cursing me. Then I left my last row and went to the podium. I took a stand there, but I could not utter a word. The best I could come out with were two words “I am not a nationalist”. And that was it; then the silence reigned. They saw it did not work out; I was not going to vindicate myself. “Go back to your seat!”
I.Ivashchenko: But they asked you something else: “What is your wish?” – Well, my wish is to hear Ukrainian spoken in the streets of Kiev”.
V.Z.: That I don’t remember.
V.О.: When was it – was it soon after the trials of 1965-66?
V.Z.: It was right during investigation.
V.О.: So Hryn’ was let free, wasn’t he?
V.Z.: His situation was much worse than mine – a lot of things were found at his place. I don’t know what I would do having such “abundance of material evidence”.
V.О.: Here it says:” Condemned to three years, but, considering his pleading guilty and public confession…” Aha, so it was that speech…”his repentance and conviction of his comrades, the Supreme Court of the Ukr.SSR made the verdict conditional. After leaving the jail, he was restituted at his former workplace, but as a junior researcher. It is from Chornovil’s book “Woe from wit”.
V.Z.: Right. I should mention that none of those present at the meeting spoke against Hryn’. Let me dwell on it a bit. After I was allowed to return to my seat the floor was taken – guess by whom? By our famous scholar Bilodid.
V.О.: О,Ivan Kostyovych!
V.Z.: Ivan Kostyovych Bilodid. And what does he say? “You see, - the academician Bilodid says – here are the defenders of the Ukrainian language! Look at them! They can’t put two words together in Ukrainian, and still they babble about hearing the Ukrainian language”. And so on and so forth. Silence fell. And then Yura Khorunzhy, who worked with us, and who was our pal, spoke from the audience.”You are mistaken. Zavoyskiy speaks beautiful Ukrainian!” Meanwhile I thought listening to that Bilodid “What a shame for an academician, how low he went to attend such meetings together with the KGB men…What an unusual bastard. I am looking forward to the moment when his bust is taken out from the Academy of Sciences building. More than once I had a craving of knocking his nose off, but there are always too many people around!
V.О.: He was the official ideologist of Russification, “bilingualism”.
V.Z.: They published a most sarcastic good piece about him in “Perets”, but unfortunately, I don’t have it.
V.О.: When [was it published]? Was it at that time?
V.Z.: Yes, right at that time. His name was not mentioned, but the context unambiguously pointed at Bilodid. It was very funny and well-pointed!
V.О.: There was a popular rime then: “Said old hag to her old man: Bilodid’s help I’ll seek, I will learn bilingual speak and return to you again”.
Did the year 1972 affect you in any way?
V.Z.: It did not. They just checked my record on the basis of my fingerprints to be convinced that I participated in no “illegal” activities.
V.О.:Did you somehow connect it to Helsinki Group? It was 1976-77 already.
V.Z.: Unfortunately I don’t remember the date. But I knew such groups were in existence, and I knew the arrests had started. Although I did not belong to any group, they wanted to know.
V.О.: Did you listen to “Liberty” radio station on the permanent basis or just occasionally?
V.Z.: Well, it depended. Of course, I did listen, but not regularly.
I remember such an occurrence. Once I closed myself in the bathroom and switched “German wave” at full volume”. This episode is related to surveillance. It was late evening, and I decided to take the garbage out to the garbage chute. I stepped out, but left the radio running. And a man standing outside was caught unawares. It was a young man listening at my wall. I don’t know who it was.
Another episode. I had to go to Nizhyn on a business trip with my colleague. There at geophysical expedition we had to present a report on our joint work. We planned to go by electric train and arranged meeting time at the train station. But I was late and decided to take the next train. The train was empty as it was a working day – maybe two or three passengers were in the coach with me. The ride to Nizhyn takes about three hours and I decided to have breakfast. I made a sort of table, as no one was around, took my sandwich out. And it was the time of Helsinki group crash. I don’t remember why I suddenly rose and stepped outside onto the platform of a carriage – probably to throw away a paper. I returned in a minute and came face to face with the man who had been sitting beside me, a most inconspicuous small guy with the newspaper under his arm. I returned to my place and he returned to his. I understood I was being followed– they probably though I had a prearranged meeting with someone at a certain station, that is why I missed the train – on purpose to go alone, without my colleague.
Moreover, I did not ask for the trip officially, and paid for it myself. Three roubles for a ticket is not such big money. Probably the fact that I left illegally without letting anyone in the institute know, looked suspicious too.
My suspicions were confirmed. I arrived at Nizhyn and stepped off the train. I did not know the address of my partner organization, so I started to seek information on the expedition right there on the platform. It was crowded and I asked a woman. And the man stood behind me listening. I turned around and gave him a most eloquent look, like, what the heck are you doing here? We were almost friendly with each other. Then he turned abruptly, jumped back into the coach, and started looking out of the window, as if he was expecting somebody. And I went to my expedition. By that time I could smell my KGB men and I sensed immediately that another “comrade” was assigned to watch after me. And I was right. The same day we were going back to Kiev. Colleagues from Lviv were accompanying us. They also made their presentation in Nizhyn, and that is where we met them.
So we were returned in the same compartment, discussing this and that. Suddenly a drunken man barged in. He sat with us for a couple of minutes and then started attacking the guys from Lviv, calling them “banderivtsy” and claiming that they should be destroyed. I knew immediately it was a provocation, Lviv colleagues did not suspect anything. It would not be nice for me to stay silent. I decided to defend them and I quarreled with the guy, saying that talks like that just breed dissent, while we have to stick together instead of trying to separate. That is another episode I remember.
All these episodes are insignificant and I wanted to recall them just to give you the idea of the general atmosphere of the time.
V.О.: Right, it characterizes the whole epoch.
V.Z.: With that surveillance I had a lot of funny happenings. I’ll tell you just about two more.
Once I went to movie theater “Kiev” at Tolstoy square. It has two movie halls. The movie started. At that time every movie started with a newsreel. And these newsreels were so disgusting I hated them and stayed outside while they ran. So I left the hall and a young man immediately followed me. They were all alike, these KGB functionaries, so I identified him right away. I started pacing the hall, and he jumped after me as if he was chased. The ticket controller hurried to him: “Are you unwell?’ And he goes “Oh, my head, I have such a headache!” – “May be, you’d better”… “No need, mother”. He stood there, while she was comforting him. Then I came back to the movie hall and he followed me.
Now one more episode needs telling. When the arrests had started again, I met an acquaintance whom I knew from the university. We sat near Shevchenko’s monument on a bench and shared the news. And one such is already circling around us. Then that KGBist stepped on the side to talk to another one. And I follow him with my eyes. We made our farewells with my friend, and I went home. To get home I had to walk along the street, where a tram № 8 used to go. You go along Tolstoy street down towards Saksahansky street. I am walking down; the bushes were planted along the old tram tracks. I’ve come to a crossing …
V.О.: with Tarasivska or Pankivska.
V.Z.: One of these streets. It leads right to the Botanical garden entrance. An old lady approached me at the crossing and said “Help me to get to the Botanical garden, on the other side of the street”. I took her under the arm and led her. As soon as we passed the bushes, I came face to face with a KGBist, who had to follow me. He was overwhelmed – surprise, surprise! See, he was hiding behind the bushes to follow me, but he could not foresee that I would turn his way. Hadn’t an old lady asked me for help, it wouldn’t have happened.
I could recall many episodes like this. I felt that I was being followed all the time.
like to get to a more important event. Shevchenko 150th anniversary was approaching. The preparations were intense and demonstrative. Alla Horska told me that a stained glass panel would be installed in the university.
V.О.: Was it 1964?
V.Z.: I believe so. I worked in Repin street; that is where our institute was located at the time. It was convenient for me to go home for lunch. Shevchenko celebrations lasted for several days. A crowd of several thousand people gathered in front of Shevchenko monument. I was passing them and decided to drop by the university to see how the picture was progressing, as it was almost ready. I came in and saw high ladders. The panel is still there, and the arch above it bears the verse…Haven’t you seen it?
V.О.: I’ve seen the photo.
V.Z.: A woman is embracing Taras, and the sign above says "I shall glorify these small dumb slaves! And as a guard protecting, I shall set my word around them” [trans. by Vera Rich] . Right, these were the words. Some men up above on the ladders are dismantling the panel. They said that they would keep it. But I could see they were purposefully destroying it, breaking glass…So there is clangor, broken glass all over the place. Alla is running around them, shouting, almost getting into a fight with them. More people arrived. Lyudmyla Semykina, Alla’s friend and others….That is Soviet bigotry, thousands of people seemingly celebrating Taras Hryhorovych, and doing things like that right nearby! Everyone is upset – what is going on here? Call for some authorities for protection! It was decided to approach the then minister of culture – I don’t remember his name…
V.О.: The academician Shvets, Ivan Trochymovych. He called himself Shvyets. Maksym Rylsky used to joke: “There are three words in Ukrainian ending in “ts”: batz [bang-Ukr.], potz [jerk – Ukr.] and Svyetz.”
V.Z.: Shvyetz, right.
V.О.:But who was the minister of culture then?
V.Z.: Or on the ideological issues, what was his name? Unfortunately I forgot the name, but it was a regular bastard all right.
V.О.: May be Skaba? (Andriy Danylovych Skaba, 12. 12 1905 – 26.06. 1986. Historian, academician of the Ukr.SSR Academy of Sciences since 1967, minister of higher and special secondary education of Ukr.SSR since 1959, candidate to presidium since 1968 (to Politbureau since 1966) and CC CPU secretary, director of the institute of history between 1968 and 1973. – V.О).
V.Z.:Skaba, correct. So this Skaba arrives – Ukrainian hat, with the ribbon, in Ukrainian embroidered shirt. Everyone ran to him with complaints: how is it possible to ruin such a work of art? He kept silent and just listened, and then he started cursing, and so profanely too. Alla Horska was driven almost to… Well, practically they demolished the stained glass right in front of my eyes.
V.О.: It was in March, right during Shevchenko days. Some told me it happened at night of March 9, while you say it was daytime?
V.Z.: Daytime, yes. There were some rumors about night - that it was either finished or demolished. But it happened right in front of my eyes. I never made it to lunch. Then they did things rather unceremoniously.
I remember another episode. The first corner building in Prorizna street and Khreshchatyk housed trade unions or something like that. A café was opened nearby. I believe it was called “Khreshchaty Yar”. Nice café, young people used to meet there. It was renovated and a young artist made very good frescoes. Spiral staircase leads from the first to the second floor. And following this spiral he painted a number of pictures in oil. On the first floor, if I remember right, were the dancing girls against the background of ancient landscape, may be from the time of Chernyakhiv or even older culture, so they are playing amidst beautiful pristine nature. While you are ascending the spiral stairs you can see the stages of Ukraine development represented by various buildings, shrines, portraits of outstanding people. And at very top one could see Hrushevsky’s portrait, Ivan Dratch’s portrait, I remember, and another contemporary too. So what do you think? The paint was still wet,(and the frescoes occupied many square meters), when the whole fresco was scratched off the wall. It was not covered or painted over, so that it could be restored, but literally gouged out together with the whitewash.
V.О.: What was your impression of the reconstruction years? Did you believe in Gorbachev’s “perestroika”? What were the attitudes and tendencies in the society? I was outside the society at the time, released in August 1988 only.
V.Z.: As far as I am concerned, I was skeptical towards any efforts to reanimate the USSR, although Gorbachev deserved some sympathy due to his tolerance, at least superficially. But I harbored no illusions as to the possibility of real democratization.
V.О.:What organization did you belong to? Did you attend Ukrainian cultural club?
V.Z.: No, I didn’t. It was there in Podil.
V.О.: It used to be in different places, and finally settled at Dmytro Fedoriv in Olehivska 10.
V.Z.: I didn’t attend it. But the hope for the Ukrainian state renaissance was revived. I organized a Rukh unit in our institute, comprising around twelve persons. Eventually I let it go, as I am no politician, I cannot belong to any party or submit to party discipline, it would be out of my character. One should have special gift for that. My participation was limited to taking part in demonstrations and painting and carrying slogans. I participated in the events being directed by the slogan “If not me, then who?” As soon as I felt they could without me, I left. Now I do not belong even to Rukh, I am a non-party person.
V.О.: Well, that is normal, but when decisive events take place many people come out to participate.
V.Z. Right. Now intellectuals are needed badly to build our state. I am aware of it. I write my scholarly papers in Ukrainian in the Institute of geophysics journal. I work there –it is in Akademmistechko.
V.O.: You mentioned your dissertation. Have you defended it?
V.Z The dissertation was called “The origins of the residual magnetization of the rocks of iron - siliceous formation». Iron is the main source of our riches. I am very grateful to the department head Zinaida Krutykhovska and to the institute director Serafim Subbotin. In fact they protected me after that notorious meetings with the KGBists. I could be easily fired, like so many other postgraduate students in other institutes. I sensed that Zinaida Oleksandrivna understood me very well, although she never mentioned it. She was not a party member.
V.O.: People who managed to stay away from party membership and still hold important offices were few. Mykhilo Stelmakh, for one, did not join the party, and was the Supreme Rada deputy. The poet needed people like that, too.
V.Z.: Well, generally such policy was carried out…Let’s take our institute, for example. All important offices were held by the people sent from Moscow, from Russia, including Zinaida Krutykhovska and the institute director Serafim Subbotin, Lebedev and others. With the exception of Lebedev they are all very nice people. And that was their way to disarm us…
V.O.: But they are people of different culture, different nation.
V.Z.: And they promoted policy required by the USSR. Everyone praised them and it was even worse for us.
V.O So, Ukrainians were kept somewhere below.
V.Z.: Maybe I’ll recollect something else.
V.O.: Thank you very much. Your story was very interesting. I don’t know when I have time to put it down, it might take long time. And when we do that I’ll bring you the text. And maybe it will become an incentive for you to sit down and write a more expanded memoir. Because written text is valuable and special on its own.
V.Z. Sure, if I remember something…Unfortunately, my memory is very poor. My life was most tumultuous. First, I was young, and, second, I was not burdened with a family yet. Many outstanding people visited me, and some of them stayed with me. I gave a shelter to the young poets who came to Kiev and had nowhere to stay. Often there were very talented guys among them.
V.O.: Who were they?
V.Z.: I liked a very gifted boy. His name was Volodya but I don’t remember his last name. He was very talented, but very poor, from a needy family. Somehow he made it to the University, and probably was expelled. Then Korbut used to visit, Mamaysur – may be, you heard the names?
V.O.: May be, Kordun Viktor? Borys Mamaysur…
V.Z Yes, Kordun Viktor, Borys Mamaysur stayed at my place.
V.O.: I believe, Borys is not alive any longer.
V.Z.: I was told long time ago that he had died. It came as no surprise for me, as he had suffered from epilepsy. The attacks were so severe, that after them, he, the poor thing, was literally falling to pieces.
V.O.: Recently his book was published, with Ivan Dzyuba’s foreword. I have it.. (Borys Mamaysur. The second beginning– К.: Sfera, 1997. – 172 p.). At that time the author still resided in Khmelnitsky.
V.Z.: It is wonderful, I am very happy. He lived at my place for some time. He was tall, looking poor, from Voron’kove village. The KGBists would stop him and take away his verses, would even search his bag.
V.O.: You mentioned Voron’kove – is it near Kiev? It is a famous village.
V.Z.: Right. He was a man with the crystal soul.
V.O.: I remember a picture taken on June 5, 1965, at Yevhen Kontsevych’s place in Zhytomyr. He is not on the photo, I don’t know why, because he was there, at Yevhen’s 30th birthday.
V.Z.: Possibly. There was an interesting story with Yevhen there. I hadn’t been there, but I’ve heard it.
V.O.: And what impact on public did these developments with the album have? I know the story from Nadiyka Svitlychna, Valery Shevchuk and Yevhen himself. see him pretty often.
V.Z.: Nadiyka Svitlychna related that scandal to me. The resonance was substantial, no doubt. I heard it was rather funny. But I want to say something else about Mamaysur. When I started to understand poetry – I do not write it, but I love it – I used to visit Ivan Svitlychny. The young poets gathered at his place. He appreciated Mamamysur’s talent. Ivan Svitlychny was a very nice person… The Writers’ Union decided to organize school for young poets in Irpin’, in the Writers’ Union House. Mamaysur was invited along with others.
V.O.: It was organized by Volodymyr Pyanov and Abram Katznelson, right?
V.Z.: I didn’t know Katznelson, but I remember Pyanov. Probably, it was on their initiative, that the young poets gathered there. I was happy for Mamamysur to go, because there he could at least get regular meals. He was homeless, like me. And there he could have a normal sleep and rest – after all, it was a recreation zone, and all that was free. So we were happy that he would spend at least a month in the normal conditions.
I heard that Pyanov would conduct workshops for the young poets, and decided to join them to have a look, to listen to the lecture and to find out who were the guys participating in the event.
So we arrived. I was accompanied by someone else, I don’t remember, by whom. Maybe, it was Ivan. On our arrival we saw a big light hall with many people in it. The holiday atmosphere prevailed. Some participants were reciting their verses, while others were commenting on them. So Pyanov took the floor, followed by Mamamysur, who attacked him severely…What did he accuse him of? Of “the soviet falsehood”, of serving the party and not art. Well, after all he’d said, he was immediately chased out, poor thing, so there was no rest for him there. That is the way he was – an uncompromising person. Well, hold your tongue, at least on that occasion – and stay for a while [in a good place]. No way.
It was prior to arrests. Mamamysur was just like Hryhir Tyutyunnyk. By the way, I used to know him as well.
V.O.:And did you know Kholodny?
V.Z. I knew Kholodny. For me Mykola Kholodny is always associated with Mykola Plakhotnyuk, who was a nice guy, while my attitude to Kholodny is ambiguous. He repelled people with his antics. That is why I did not keep in touch with him. He had very high self-esteem, whether rightly or not. I don’t know where he is now.
V.O.: He lives in Oster, coming to Kiev now and then. Around 1992 he organized a recital in the Writers’ Union under most telling title “I died in 1972”.
V.Z.: Absolutely right!
V.O.: Arrest and repentance – it was his death, indeed. After that it was just existence. From time to time he publishes very brutal and vulgar things in the media. Once I even had to interfere and “bark back” because he attacked Vasyl’ Stus, Volodymyr Zabashtan’sky, Hryhir Tyutyunnyk. Considering that Stus had been dead already I was so appalled that I had to respond. Kholodny placed his essay in “Kyiv” magazine so I had to reply in “Kyiv” as well, very sharply (“He slandered Ukrainian Calvary…” // Kiev. – 1995. – № 11-12. – P. 8 – 9.). I wonder how I could sit down together with this Mykola and reminisce about his life – he surely will tell me a lot of nonsense.
V.Z.: I’d like to add something about Mykola Plakhotnyuk.He was a medical student at the time, and he organized a memorial event dedicated to Symonenko’s death anniversary.
V.O.: No, it was right after Symonenko’s death that several memorial celebrations had been held.
V.Z. It was a memorial event dedicated to Symonenko’s death anniversary. The hall of medical institute, where Plakhotnyuk had studied and organized the event, was crowded. Young poets attended. It was a brilliant meeting, but far beyond the official boundaries. And poor Plakhotnyuk had to pay for it long after; he barely avoided expulsion. Or maybe he was expelled. Anyway I know he had to stand trial.
V.O.: Yes, in 1972, they packed him to psychiatric ward.
V.Z.: To discredit him, they way they do it. I haven’t seen him for a long time. And of late I’ve been using metro a lot and now and then I see a very familiar face. I remember him as a student, he used to be thin as a stick, while this man is rather solidly built, and I cannot collect the nerve to talk to him.
V.O. We are friendly with Mykola, we meet often. But I haven’t recorded him as yet – he keeps postponing and postponing it. And the disaster with Chornovil did not help... Valentyna Chornovil is Mykola’s wife. They’ve got Bohdanchyk, who is in the fourth grade already. Now I am not bothering them – let them get through this disaster. I have to record Valentyna’s memoir too. She did a lot, disseminated a lot of “samizdat”. She studied in the university, two years my senior. I suspected she had “samizdat”, but I had my own channel.
V.Z.: So finally I mustered my courage and approached the man (or he approached me). We started talking and it turned out it had been him, Plakhotnyuk. We had a very nice chat, although I could barely recognize him. I’ve been through a lot of things and I am happy that my life turned out the way it did.
V.O.: That we have participated in some events. You know, when Yevhen Kontsevych celebrated his 60th anniversary I organized a visit to him - the whole bus full of people. He was born in 1935, so it must have been in 1995. There Chornovil said “we are happy people, we still remember Stalin, but we declared war against the regime in the 60-ies and early 70-ies, we have served our terms, and we lived long enough to see the independence! And so many generations struggled and fought for the liberty, and never saw it, but we did, despite everything.
V.Z. Sashko Martynenko is one very prominent example – he died just several days vbefore the Independence. And Stus…
V.O.: Oksana Yakivna Meshko participated in the re-burial of Stus, Lyvyn and Tykhy, she attended an innumerable number of rallies – and as fate would have it, she died on January 2, 1991, did not make it.
Thank you very much, it was a wonderful talk.
V.Z.: I saw my main task in telling you about the “Zhayvoronok” choir. I’ve heard “Liberty” radio program, where they mentioned the first steps, but never mentioned the end, because it was rather unattractive. Unfortunately I contributed to that collapse. And second I wanted to mention Sashko Martynenko who had done a lot, and about Olya Tkhorenko.
V.O.: You told us about Polyukh, but never mentioned his name.
V.Z.: Ihor, if I’m not mistaken.
V.Z.: I will not recollect any interesting things now, so let us not waste recording space. Switch the machine off.
V.O.: Thank you.