And here is what I’ll tell you… M.Horyn’s interview recorded by V.Kipiani and V.Ovsienko
author: Vakhtang Kipiani, Vasyl Ovsiyenko
Audio. Interview. Part 1
Audio. Interview. Part 2
V.O.: On December 7,1999 V.Ovsienko and V.Kipiani are filming and audio-recording of the M.Horyn’s biography, related by him, at his home in Pryrichna street, 37.
Mr. Horyn’! A wise man once said that history, unfortunately, is not always was had happened, but what had been recorded. If the witnesses and participants of important public events won’t take care of true recording of them, the people who will come after them will rewrite them the way they see them, the way they need them to be, the way they are ordered to write, or won’t write about them at all. Thank God, you contributed to the coming of new age when one can tell and record the truth without fear of being “dragged away in hand-cuffs” (T.Shevchenko)
You are close to 70, and still have not found time to write about yourself. In 1994 at least T.Prosyanyk, the head of the secretariat of URP, headed by you at that time, insisted on publishing a collection of your essays and speeches “Light the candle in the dark. Myths, reality and our tasks. Essays, presentations, interviews”. Historian T.Batenko in 1995 compiled a book dedicated to you “Mykhaylo Horyn’s candle. Sketches to the portrait”, also published by URP. And the journalists now and then made you tell them at least something about your life. But your autobiography is still missing.
Such autobiographies are collected now by Kharkiv human rights group where I work and by all-Ukrainian Memorial” society named after V.Stus, where V.Kipiani works. Actually, KhHRG, headed by Ye. Zakharov, is also a memorial organization.
After putting them down and authorizing, i.e. editing done by the author, these interviews become archive materials available for historians. It would be even better to have them published in their completeness, as the direct testimonies are invaluable. You lived in the epoch when diaries were out of questions, and the truth could not be told either in letters or in articles, as it meant incriminating oneself and one’s friends. The truth can hardly be found in KGB files, as there were two truths – one for KGB and the other –for those under arrest. Some people due to their bitter experience, refused to testify altogether, as anything could be used against the suspect.
So to restore historic justice at least for you and your generation we ask to talk here freely about your life. We’ll know what to do with your story. And, maybe our recording would create an incentive for you to add other facts and expand it.
M.H.: That is true, I am one of those who had participated in the Ukrainian national liberation and human rights’ protection movement of 60 – 80-s, in the struggle against
Russian communist empire.
Once we decided it should be autobiography, I think my parents and family deserve mentioning.
I was brought up in the family of patriots. My father was not the first one in our family to go in for politics. His father, Mykhaylo Horyn’, in 1918, when People’s Republic of Western Ukraine was proclaimed, headed the village administration. He was persecuted by the Poles. They even demanded his imprisonment or sending him to labor camp. Luckily it never happened. My father Mykola Horyn’, born in 1905, and since his youth participated in the nationalistic movement. He was a member of Ukrainian Military organization. As soon as OUN came into being in 1929, he became its member and raion leader.
In 1929 my father married my mother Stephania, by maiden name of Hrek. She was a daughter of wealthy peasant. Grandfather Danylo on the eve of World War I went to the USA, earned some money and on his return bought a plot of land 40 “morgs” big. It is over 20 hectares. In our area it is a big plot, so grandfather was considered a well-to-do landlord.
My mother’s family was not as politically engaged as my father’s. But after the revolution of 1918 feelings against Poland were strong among young people. When the cattle was herded by the police station to the pasture (mom was born in town of Novy Strilychy), young herds used to sing “Pole was born from a toad, Moscal – from a mare, while Ukrainian was born from a black-browed mother”. That was the way for young kids of 8 – 10 years to demonstrate their political stand.
Mother was very young when father married her, she had but 18 years. I was born when she was 19 – it happened on June 17, 1930. But even as a married man, my father was active in politics, and several years later was imprisoned for the first time. Altogether he had been put to jail three times. He did not spend a lot of time there. He was very stubborn, would not confess and the investigators failed to beat any incriminating facts out of him. And Polish process was different from that of the Bolsheviks. So, being active in politics, father was imprisoned for the first time, and then twice more, in 1938 and 1939.
I remember September 1, 1939; remember also his arrest in 1938. The atmosphere of these arrests was totally different from that of the “soviet” arrests. In 1938 father was arrested in connection with the events in trans-Carpathian region. Many young guys crushed the Polish border, went to Czechoslovakia and joined trans-Carpathian army to fight for independence. My mother was going to visit father in Novy Strilyshchy (about 2-3 km from our village Kniselo). She heard that the inmates were beaten there and started to cry, cursing Poland and its rule. The policemen even did not chase her away from the prison. You can imagine what would have happened to the woman under the soviet times!
SEPTEMBER 1, 1939.
The war exploded and Kniselo had only one radio receiver for the entire village. It was owned by the village teacher, a Pole, who was a principal of the elementary school, by name of Kordal’. The entire male population of Kniselo gathered in his vegetable garden. They thoroughly trampled down his potatoes to listen to the news from the front. Radio was filling people with optimism. The saying "My i gudzika plaszcza nie damy!" ("We won’t surrender even a coat button to the enemy!) was often repeated in the newspapers and speeches. But a few days later nothing remained from that optimism – the Polish army was destroyed.
Under the window I was listening with my father to the radio news and comments of the village politicians till 2 am. I was 9 then. At two we returned home and went to bed. Father had not even finished his cigarette, when we heard tramping of many feet under our window. Father had no time to make out what was going on, when something heavy struck the door. The door opened and a gang of Polish soldiers in helmets together with the local policeman Mr. Zozulyak, entered the room. It was not Zozulyak’s first visit. He said with mocking courtesy: “Mr.Horyn’, here I am again”.
So Mr. Horyn’ is taken away in the middle of the night. Where is he taken? They go in the direction of the cemetery. Mother runs after him, and I follow mother. We assumed they were going to shoot him, considering war and all! Near Polish church at the cemetery a truck was standing. Father was chained by his hands and feet and thrown into the truck. The war changed the attitude of Polish policemen dramatically.
These are just reflections on the times we lived in. But a child’s perception is amazing! After father had been taken away, I returned home, set on the foundation of the future new house and wept. My mother’s brother came to me and said: “Don’t you cry, Mykhas’, soon they will come for me, too”. And, learning that my uncle will soon be taken away too I immediately felt much better – so, not only father, but he, too will be taken away.
Father was thrown into Brygidki (a prison in Lviv) and beaten severely. Every day the prisoners sentenced to death were escorted out, several persons at a time, and shot to death in the prison courtyard. They did not shoot father, because the Germans approached the city. An artillery missile hit the prison building and damaged the roof so that the ceiling fell through in some cells. Polish guards ran away. And the prisoners, who had avoided execution, took the tables and broke the doors open. It allowed them to break free and run away.
My father’s escape was a separate story. He was almost killed having run into the Polish guards. When he ran out of prison he saw a huge train of carts with the Polish soldiers. The Poles were escaping, pressed by the Germans from the West, and by the Bolsheviks from the other side. Father saw a cart full of boots. He threw them off, took the cart and arrived home.
Father returned home in mid-September, severely brutalized. We saw that his body was black. He could barely move and preferred to lie down. In two or three days a soviet judge from raion arrived. And our home was, so to speak, half-gentrified. So we had a kilim hanging on the wall. There was an icon of St.Olga on the left, and the icon of St.Volodymyr on the right, and trident against the blue velvet fashioned out of gilded plate. The soviet judge came into the room and ordered: “Take it off!” But, as I mentioned already, my father was an absolutely fearless man “Are you telling me to take it off? Get out of my house!” He was of an average height but a very personable man. He even pointed with his finger: “Out with you!” The judge popped out as a cork out of a bottle – he was not used to such treatment. The peasants of our region by then have been already terrorized into submission. And lo and behold – one of them just chased away a raion judge. In hour or two the head of village council hurried to our place and said:”Mykola, run! He will return to arrest you right away!” Father escaped and that was the beginning of [his] underground life.
Reprisals of the years 1939-1941 did not affect our village, apart from mother’s family from Novi Stelyshchy. In May 1941, one month before German-Soviet war began, my mother’s parents’, the Hreks, were deported to Kazakhstan. They perished there, only children survived.
I’d like to mention here that the level of national conscience was very high among us. I told you already about our mother who as adolescent girl proclaimed her political creed in the 20-s. And in 1939 father was arrested. Next day we, the third-graders came to school, tore down the portraits of president Moscicky and of the prime-minister who was also the minister of defense Rydz-Smigly and took them to the river to have them drowned!
Negative attitude to the authority, childish love towards Ukraine found its expression in my dreams. To let my fantasizing loose I climbed to the attic, lay down on the straw and imagined beautiful Ukraine to be. This Ukraine was always closely linked to our village operation. I imagined that in the new Ukraine our village will breed the most handsome horses. I adored horsed.
At school all the subjects were taught in Polish. Only grammar and reading lessons were conducted in Ukrainian. The school was called Utraquist. Every school day started officially with prayer and the Polish anthem "Jeszcze Polska nie zginela, poki my zyjemy". We, the kids from second and third grades, being “seasoned politicians” by then, sang in whispers "Jeszcze Polska nie zginela, ale zginac musi, jeszcze polak rusynowi buty czyscic musi". [Times will come when Poles will be polishing our boots- Pol]. That was kids’ politicizing.
Teaches used corporal punishment. Very often Mrs. Kordalyova, Mr.Kordal’s wife, would order a student "Daj pacu", meaning “Give me your hand”. A switch, cut out by one of the students, waited in the corner. Mrs. Kordalyova held the hand and applied the switch – it hurt a lot! But it was supreme bravery to receive 5 switch strokes from Mrs. Kordalyova. Later you had to sit on your hand to rduce the pain.
Ukrainian emigrants had a great influence on me. In 1935 or 1936 a group of emigrants who had fled Soviet Union came to us and set up an ambulant theater as a means of subsistence. The Poles did not give them jobs. The vagrant actors often visited us. My father as an enlightenment activist used to invite all the guests for meals. They also slept at our place. They were poor. My father would canvass the village inviting people to the show contributing a zloty or two to help the actors. For the first time villagers came to the village club reading room not on a holiday, but on a week-day to see the show. The plays ran for three days in a row.
The play “The Fall of Sich” was unusual. On the stage Cossacks were battling with the soldiers led by Russian general Tekely. The audience kept shouting: “Death to moscals! Death to moscals!” But we had several families of Moscow-lovers. Those shouted “Shame!” In a nutshell, the action was going on as much on the stage as in the audience. The festival lasted for several days.
In1939 these people left. One of them, Mr.Karabinevych, later worked as the director of the drama theater in Chortkiv (Ternopil oblast’). He died there. In 1941, after Galicia was occupied by the Germans, one of the actors turned up in our village. He was a very gifted person, a very special man. Not only did he manage to bring together the village youths, but also to select a dozen or so singers with beautiful voices among them. He wrote a vaudeville and they traveled villages and towns performing it. Songs from the vaudeville were still remembered by both young people and venerable elders for several decades.
The village reading room was the center of enlightenment and political education. Young people used to work during the day and come to the reading room in the evening. Someone read aloud the newspapers while the others listened. The books published by “Prosvita” were not bound and looked like regular notebooks. The girls sang songs while binding them and making them into books. I still keep some of these books. The club was a hub for uniting the youths and inoculating them with patriotic nationalistic ideas. It was not accidental that in 1942 a rebellion burst out. It was prepared by “Prosvita”, and, naturally, by the underground political groups, OUN in particular.
I would not like to dwell on the relations between educators and underground groups, but I want to draw your attention to the fact that it was the “enlightenment” movement that became a propaedeutic training for the clandestine tough political operation. Twenty years later new generation brought up in the spirit of patriotism entered the stage. This education incited a wave of patriotism and commitment later. Once again: what is patriotism? It is commitment. Again and again: commitment and dedication.
I just recalled an incident that happened in our village. I still can see it as if it were yesterday. There were two boys, not the best specimen, so to speak. They liked rude obscene jokes and such. But after the Bolsheviks came in 1944 they joined the underground, the partisans. You know, there were partisan detachments and self-defense groups, not attached to partisans. And there were other people who used to say: “I acted at my own discretion”. These two boys – one of them known as Cheat – were members of partisans’ detachment. At night the detachment passed the village. The boys asked to be left behind so that they would catch up with the rest later. But suddenly a raid started. They were caught – because of a traitor. They were waiting in the hiding place, but someone betrayed them. The ChK officers blocked the entrance and ordered:”Out!” In response they grabbed the grenades and blew themselves up.
I keep thinking, what a will power these guys must have had, and what a force of invincible patriotism! I would not give up, yield to the enemy! They knew that under favorable circumstances they would be sentenced to 25 years and still enjoy the freedom after. But they chose to die. It stirred the whole village.
I mention the events that did not affect me personally. But in 1944, as soon as the Bolsheviks came –around July 1944 – I stepped out to the courtyard (and our house was in the village center) and saw a man with a machine gun across his chest approaching. When he came closer I could identify a tall, slim and handsome officer…Our village was built in the old way, like they used to build under the rule of princes: instead of streets it had a circular shape, for the self-defense, with wetland in the middle. It was called Kniselo, and a philologist can recognize the name as prince’s village. There was a mill, and the wheel of it bore an inscription “Prince’s village” in Old Russian. Other topographic names also reminded of the princes’ times – a small hill Terenets, Hayduchchyna compound…
So I saw the man approaching. I waited thinking that my father was in the house. People were recruited to the Red Army, and my father was not willing to go. It meant in fact that he was illegal. I was 14. Keeping in mind that father was at home I stepped forward to meet the officer. He asked me in very good Ukrainian (it happened very rarely)”Sonny, where does Mykola Horyn’ live, if you happen to know?” I said “I do”. My heart beat rapidly while I pointed to the other end of the village. In our village you can see from one end to another, a kilometer and half, as it is round. I showed to him the fallen oaks and a man sitting on them. “This is Mykola Horyn’”. And it was - a distant relative of ours, much older than my father, maybe by 10-15 years. The officer went in that direction, and I ran home, crying “Dad, NKVD official came to fetch you!” Father jumped out of the window and disappeared in the field.
Underground life started. Raids. It is very hard to talk about it…It felt like real war in the village: constant shooting, constant battles. I recollect early December of 1944. Father is not with us, he went underground. Mother is nine months pregnant with my youngest brother Mykola. And I am 14, I am getting ready to go to Lviv to sell potatoes. The distance to Lviv is 65-70 km. I need money to buy some clothes. And suddenly I hear d-r-r-r, bum-bum, horrible shooting and explosions. And our house is ancient. I mentioned earlier we had foundations in the courtyard. During German occupation we managed to build a house, but we kept nothing there but grass and some things, because the house was not finished. When a garrison was deployed in the village, the soldiers placed machine-guns in the windows, because the house was right on the side of the road.
And just fancy that – a partisan detachment was approaching (later I heard in the village that one of the partisans stayed behind due to the wound in his leg). They sent intelligence to the village to ask about moscals. A woman said there were none. She did not know some cars had entered the village at night. So, eight carts of the partisan detachment are passing the central road. About 20 fighters are sleeping in our house. The guards of the garrison did not attack the partisans right away. They waited till the first wagon had reached our house and then shot at the guys sitting on the straw sheaves with their legs down. They were aiming low and only one boy was wounded. The guys immediately jumped off and started shooting at our house. Remembering that mother was pregnant, I grabbed her and tossed her under the bed, and then hid under the bed myself. Several minutes later we heard explosions and saw a soldier running for the bucket – apparently he needed water.
The battle was a short one – about 5-10 minutes. We heard the cars leaving our courtyard (there were two of them) – the soldiers were going away. Some time passed. At dawn I stepped out to see a cart in front of our house. One horse was killed, but the other wasn’t. There was no one in sight, but it seemed dangerous to go to Lviv. I wondered where these grenades had exploded. I knew the headquarters of the garrison were located in school, so I went there. The soldiers had thrown out the desks and covered the floor with fresh straw to sleep on it. School had two big classrooms – 60 square m each. Children studied before and after dinner, for four years. Upon entering I saw blood on the straw and a hole in the middle – the grenade blew up the floor...
Later a partisan from Novy Strelyshchy, currently residing in Lviv, recollected that when the machine gun fire started, the commander of that small detachment (they were about forty, a “chota”) grabbed two anti-tank grenades and threw them into each classroom. Casualties were numerous. Oddly enough, not a single partisan was killed, just one wounded. His heel was smashed so hard that he became almost a cripple.
The day was a holiday for us – we celebrated our victory! There was no fear. Children admired the commander’s bravery.
One morning I opened the door to see a machine-gun and a soldier behind it. Several people, including NKVD representative from raion, entered the house. “Get ready, you are evicted”. We were yet three at the time: little Bohdan, Mykola not born yet. Bohdan is 8 and I am 14. We are packing our things. Then we are taken to the village council courtyard. It is full of people - 7 or 8 families are being deported. Mother told Bohdan to go to his aunt. No one guarded him, but I was. Bohdan went away and we remained.
By night the crowd gathered, and then people from other villages joined us. Several dozens of wagons stood on the road to go to Khodoriv. They are guarded very diligently. The train stretched for about a kilometer. There are soldiers on both sides, in a chain, and they have their submachine guns ready. Partisans often raided the guards escorting the deported and freed the people.
It is evening. We are on the wagon, the two of us and a soldier. We were not trusted with the wagon, because when partisans attacked the peasants would grab the reins and escape. Mother said: “Look, sonny, run. Get off once we enter the village and try to escape. It will be dark by then”. How could I leave mom behind? I couldn’t, she was pregnant and due date was close. While mother was thus whispering to me the soldier turned and said: “Escape, sonny, do! If you escape, mom will escape too, but if you stay you will be observed very closely”. I just gaped at him. He was from Vinnytsya oblast’, about 30 years of age, a sergeant. You know, that still surprises me, I wish I knew the man…So we rode like that for about 12-15 km before arriving at Otynevychy, the last village before Khodoriv, where the railroad station was. They gathered the villagers from the whole region there. It was completely dark by then. I was wearing my student’s coat, looking like a military uniform. It was dark blue and covered me all the way down to my heels. In the dark it was hard to tell whether it was a guard or a soldier.
I lost myself among the soldiers who marched in line, and once we reached the first yard gate, I entered and waited till they passed by. That is how І escaped. Eventually mother escaped too.
When the deportees were herded into a house (the town did not have a jail) with the windows with the boards covering them. Mother approached a villager who had an axe. The peasants knew they were going to Siberia, so they took along saws and axes to be able to build something there. Everyone was aware that people were thrown out right on the snow, and if you did not fend for yourself you were sure to freeze to death, as it was winter. So mother found a man with an axe and said: “Let’s break the boards, silently and smoothly. The soldiers are sleeping”. The man did not dare to do as told, saying that everyone would be shot. Mother had to do it herself. She got out through the window, then someone passed her a child. According to my mother, that night about twenty persons escaped. When the soldier woke up, half of the detainees ran away and no one was caught. Mother went on by foot in the snow.
But getting back to my escape… I hid behind the gate and saw light inside the house. I entered and said: “Jesus Christ be praised!” – “Who are you, child?” “Well – responded – I was deported, ran away and would ask you to let me sleep in your home”. – “No way, son, the village head warned us that we were to be deported too, so we are going to spend the night somewhere else, at the end of the village. See, we’ve already packed our pillows”. I said:”Please take me with you”. They did, and that is how I spent the night.
At the break of dawn I went home. The distance to Kinselo was about 12 -15 km. The snow had fallen, severe winter set in. As soon as I left the village I saw 5 or 6 horsemen in their sheepskins trotting in my direction. I figured out they were from the garrison. “What are you doing here? Where are you going? Whose son are you?”, and questions like that. I answered: “I am returning from the mill”. I had three m of cloth wrapped around me – mother bought it to make me a suit and ordered me to put it on to have at least something to sell and get money. That is what I did and put my coat on top before jumping off the wagon. The soldier said: “Why are you lying to me? What has the mill to do with that, you have that cloth wrapped around you? Where did you escape from?” –“I didn’t. It was very cold so I wrapped it around me”.
They took me to another village, Horodyshche, to the school building. It was crowded, as about 30 Horodyshche residents were waiting for deportation there. I was thrown among them. I thought now I would be taken to Siberia without mother. How shall I manage alone?
The next day I saw two boys with their hands fastened with the wire. They were placed in front of the school. There is a kind of a fence there, and under the sun the snow had melted. They were forced to sit on the wet soil. One looked very young, maybe 18. When they were made to sit there, a soldier ran forward the way they do in football game and then kicked the young boy in the face with all his might, so that teeth flew all around. The women cried. I could not look at the blood running. They dragged him into the classroom. A man ran to him and embraced him, but he turned away. What happened? His father, the village head, was coerced into turning his son in to NKVD. They promised him that the son won’t be arrested, if he gives out his hiding place, while staying in underground he is sure to perish. The father agreed and showed the hiding place. The boys wouldn’t surrender, they shot back and a tear grenade was thrown into their shelter to get them out.
The boy was moaning and father stepped back. Then he was dragged by his arms and legs into another classroom and we could hear only terrible screams – he was beaten cruelly – they wanted to get some information from him.
By night a captain came. I always repeat that even in the criminal structures not everyone is a criminal. There always will be one person unwilling to be a criminal. Mr. Ovsienko and I both know that there was certain Kukushkin among the guards in Kuchyno camp in Perm’ oblast’. Now he works in the workshop of the Memorial Museum of history of political reprisals and totalitarianism “Perm’-36”. He was such a person, more or less…
So the captain came and pointing his finger at a woman caught right in the field with her child, asked: “You?” – “I was on my way from the market”. – “OK, go away.” –“You?” – “I went to the mill, while mother went to the market”. – “Is this your mother?” – “Yes, she is”. I felt it was better to say this. But the woman was afraid he would not let her go: “Let me be, child, let me be! You are not my son!” I said: “Why are you leaving me, mother?” The officer looked at me and said: “Go away, sonny.” And we were let out. She ran first and I ran after her: “Don’t leave me alone!’ But the woman ran away and I went the other way, to my own village.
IN THE UNDERGROUND
That is how I ended up in the underground. Between December 1944 and May 1945 we kept hiding in different villages. Mother gave birth to my youngest brother Mykola. The partisans – commander and his wife – became his godparents.
And suddenly the village Yatvagi where mother and father had been hiding ( the name probably is related to the Lithuanian tribes of the same name, dating back to the times when Danylo Galicky had them subdued and resettled to our areas, to Khodorivshchyna), was surrounded by a lot of troops. Partisans were digging a huge ditch in the forest nearby the village. The hearsay was that actually it was a big grain storage. The cart would come and grain would be unloaded into the special trenches isolated from soil and well hidden. The partisans came from Volyn’ and worked there for several days, returning from work tired and dirty.
So the village was surrounded by the troops. My father and my mother’s brother, former student of Lviv Medical institute and OUN leader Mykola Hrek, were in the village. By the way, Bilayeva in her book “Under yellow and blue banners” mentions him.
At night the partisans took to the woods. The woods were surrounded too and fight and shooting started. Partisans made it to the village breaking through the cordon. There father met Mykola Hrek. “Where [are you going?]” – Mykola asked – “Let us get away, the village is surrounded”.
The preceding evening uncle Mykola talked to me: “I see your suffering. I will take you to the detachment. We have a boy of 12, he has sub-machine gun and a gun. I’ll give you clothes and you will become a partisan”. God almighty, I’ll be a partisan, I’ll join the detachment!
When uncle and father went to the village and then out of it they were well protected by the guards with long-barreled guns of multiple charges that could hit the target from big distance – mounted NKVD men abandoned the chase.
It was my last meeting with mother’s brother. He perished in May or June of 1945 in Zhovkva region, near Lviv.
Noteworthy, not just our family was politically conscious. Our surrounding was the same. My grandfather was highly respected in the village, and mother’ cousin Mykola Lybid’ was a leader of the nationalistic movement. They were pretty close. Before mother’s wedding, Mykola Lybid’ said: “I want to be your best man.” And you know what the best man is? He is a knight!
In April or May 1945 the soviet authorities declared amnesty – the war was gloriously won, and those who would come and surrender will not be arrested. Father returned to the village, where we were hiding by that time. The story of our hiding, of round-ups is a real epic…
Father said: “Maybe it makes sense for me to go and confess?” Before that mother’s brother Mykola Hrek said: “You should not mess up here with us. I would go and confess if I were you. My advice would be to go to the raion military registration office and turn yourself in”.
We held a family council – mother, father and I. Father said: “Nothing doing, I’ll have to…” And then added: “So what shall I do? Steftsya, what do you think?” Mother kept silent and then said:” Probably, you have to go”. _”And you, Mykhas’, what do you think?” I puffed up, so proud I was. I said: “They will arrest you, they will kill you” and so forth. I was against the plan. But father went and surrendered. We returned home. And those who had confessed were recruited as “hawks”. You know what “hawks” are.
I remember a scene. A captain from Kovpak’s army came to our yard. (He was always “hunting” for partisans alone. Mounted, with submachine gun. A brave man he was.) My father was sitting outside. The captain said: “Go to raion”. Father replied: “I won’t.” But he kept circling around father on his horse, waving his whip: “I’ll do this and that to you!” He was cursing and using foul language. Father had enough and his temperament took the better of him: “You, moscal, go and kiss my… !” I even hid, thinking he would shoot father right there. But he just stroke his horse and rode away.
Father mounted a horse and I mounted another as it was spring and roads were muddy. We went to Khorodiv. Father found a job in the Khodoriv sugar plant and was not bothered there.
The year was 1945. I have missed an entire school year. We had nothing, I walked around almost naked. I was dreaming of boots, because otherwise I could not leave the house as I was barefoot.
I started my studies at the seventh grade. At the eighth grade I was elected to be the head of the students’ committee. Hordienko, former major, always wearing his uniform, was the school principal. Even school principal could not afford a suit at that time –money was cheap and it never sufficed for the normal living. At school we were all patriots. Some children from Naddnipryanshchyna joined us – the kids of the party committees’ secretaries, party executive committees of the raion level. They were not numerous.
Christmas came. We were on vacations. Then the Epiphany (on January,19) came – high time to get back to school. But our students’ board decided not to go, and all the students got a word recommending them to stay at home. We did in order to keep our plan in secret, lest children from Naddnipryanshchyna would inform their parents about it. But what shall we do if anyone decides to go?
Our school building had a narrow porch. We opened the ground floor window (and it was fairly high, about 3 m, and the foundations were high as well), and through it we blocked the porch with our benches. In the morning when teachers arrived they found the school door barred. We stood aside and observed. The small kids from the newcomers’ families came. They stood there for some time and then went away.
On the second or third day the principal called me and said: “I’ll have you expelled, I will do so-and-so to you…”
We decided to give Hordienko a scare and we scratched “Hordienko! Death lies in wait for you!” on the latrine door. As soon as the teachers read it an NKVD man arrived at school. He approached the eighth graders and ordered everyone to write the words “Hordienko! Death lies in wait for you!” But everyone tried to disfigure his handwriting so that it wouldn’t be recognized. And NKVD man gained nothing.
In 1946 elections were to be held. We campaigned against them. At school we were coerced to join the komsomol – by the year 1947 we had but three komsomol members. No one wanted to join the komsomol. And so I graduated from the tenth grade in Novy Strelyshchy as a non-komsomol member.
Although we tried to act against occupants we never set up an underground organization. Some boys were later arrested and sentenced to 10 years in the concentration camps: a ninth-grader V.Korolyshyn, a graduate Z.Krovets’ and others.
We had a typewriter that we hid in our stash. When in 1949 I became a student in Lviv University, Zenko Korovets’ whom I mentioned earlier and who was a pedagogical school student, offered me to disseminate the leaflets “Who are banderivtsy and what are they fighting for?” “Let us try” – I answered.
I believe at that time NKVD did not have professionals in their ranks. Their officers were ignorant in the issues of investigation. I took a pile of leaflets, hang in the main building of the university a bit longer, placed the leaflets under the benches and left.
Then Z.Korovets’ was arrested. During the inquest he revealed nothing so they did not get a hold on me.
I decided to move the typewriter from the stash to Lviv. But how shall I transfer it? Students are returning to Liviv after weekend spent in the village and bring food with them. It was impossible to survive on the students’ stipend, especially in 1945-50-s. When this echelon of students is returning to Lviv NKVD officials would go from coach to coach frisking the passengers. Several times we heard the feet stamping on the coach roof, followed by boom-boom-boom of the gun shots.
So, how shall I transfer it? I decided to fashion a backpack, put potatoes underneath, put the typewriter vertically and then cover it with more potatoes. But I had to sew it into another bag and had no canvass. Our family moved from the village to the city. After we were robbed during eviction we led a very modest life. We did not have even a piece of burlap. Then I saw mom’s dress drying in the yard. I wrapped and secured it around the typewriter. It was two in the morning, and the train to Lviv was due at five. I was finishing my work when the door opened and father stepped out of the bedroom: “What are you doing?” He caught me “in flagranti”. I said:”Hush, dad”. We had a special relationship with my father. He did not scold me, but just asked me to be cautious. So I tugged the typewriter between potatoes and made it safely to Lviv. Meanwhile in the morning mom started looking for her dress – stolen! Father kept silent. Eventually I confessed to mom, but the dress was damaged beyond repair, so she could never wear it again. But the typewriter was brought to Lviv.
A student A.Fedchuk from Rivne oblast’ studied in the university. We decided to organize an underground group. We will print out anti-soviet materials. It was 1950; the partisan movement was coming to an end. I wrote my first anti-soviet essay, where I mentioned Stalin’s treacherous promise to create Ukrainian Army. We printed it but never distributed it.
In 1949 I witnessed an unusual event. On October 2 Yaroslav Halan spoke in Lviv University. It turned out to be his last speech. We condemned him but his presentation surprised me. He spoke as an intelligent person defending Ukrainian culture. It had nothing to do with the series of his pamphlets “I spit on Pope!” Halan turned out to be a totally different man.
Several days later he was killed. Now we know it was done by the KGB. We know that he was banned and fired from the position of “Radyanska Ukraina” reporter, then he quit work in “Vil’na Ukraina”, then he was rounded up as a wolf between red flags – and that was the end of him.
The students who did not join the komsomol were provoked. The special files were started on all of them. In the second or third year of studies I received an anonymous letter which said:” Your attitude is well-known, but to become a teacher and bring up children in the appropriate spirit you must join the komsomol. I was sure it originated from KGB, but I never joined the komsomol.
1953 Stalin died and I was expelled from the university. In April and May I passed some exams, but I didn’t go to the 1st of May manifestation.
The Ukrainian language professor I.Kovalyk asked me: “Why don’t you defend your course papers?” And I was studying in the psychology department. One paper was in psychology, the other in logic, the third in Ukrainian language and the fourth –in Ukrainian literature and psychology. My diploma was on the “Psychology of the protagonists in M.Kotsyubinsky’s books”. It was a novelty then, no one wrote about it. I answered: “But I am expelled!” – “Come, come back and defend your paper”.
I was not a student any longer. I got an excellent mark on my course paper, but I didn’t attend lectures. I was reluctant to tell my parents about my expulsion. Not that I was afraid but I did not want to upset them – the 4th year student expelled out of the blue! So I enrolled into the folklore expedition of the Institute of Social Studies under the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. It went to explore “Brody pocket”. Do you know what it is? In 1944 The “Galicia” division was surrounded near Brody and exterminated to boot by soviet troops.
I kept a diary and held it in my valise. Once I came home to find the leader of expedition, learned researcher of the Institute and candidate of science, fumbling through my things. I was upset and asked him:” How dare you?” He tried to justify himself explaining that he was ordered by KGB not to take me with him. But the dean of the philology department O.Moroz gave me a positive reference. So he took me, on the promise to keep an eye on me and to check my writings.
Another thing happened the same year 1949. Academician Savin was the Rector of the university. After Halan was killed – and students were mixed up in that – the first secretary of the CPU CC Khrushchov came to the university, gathered all the rectors (about 14 of them) and said: “How could you let the assassination of such a man happen?” He stressed the weakening of the pedagogical work among students and unsatisfactory status of the educators-students relations. He asked our rector: “Don you know at least one student’s name?” Rector was an honest and decent man, and he could not give a single name. He did not want to lie either. Then no one knew the truth of Halan’s assassination.
So, when I was expelled an academician Ye.Lazarenko was appointed the rector. At the beginning of the new school year I went to Lazarenko and told him the story of my expulsion, asking to restore me as a student. Rector asked: “Did you see the resolution?” I told him everything from the beginning. He was a young man, a bit over forty, with open honest face so I trusted him tightly and did not hide anything from him or embellish the truth. So he asked: “Did you see the resolution? There is a special board for that”. – “No”. “Then go and see if it is there and let me know”. I took a look – it was not there. He wrote a note to the dean of the philology department: "Let Horyn’ take the tests for the 4th year.” I brought it to the dean and he appointed the exams’ date. In one day I passed all five exams with the excellent mark, so that I was entitled to a higher stipend.
I didn’t tell why I had been expelled. It was a real tale, most interesting one. First they made a cartoon of me in the department newspaper. I was presented all black – my face, my hair, and I was hiding behind the Bible. Because my main argument for not joining the Komsomol was that I believed in God. That is why they made this drawing. During a party meeting the secretary of the university party organization candidate of philology Neboryachok spoke sharply against me: “How, --said he- could we let the enemy of soviet power Mykhaylo Horyn’ to do the research on Lenin!”
My research of Lenin’s work was restricted to my course paper “Issues of psychology in Lenin’s works “Materialism and Empiric criticism and “Philosophical notebooks”. I knew about 100 quotes from that Lenin by heart. The paper was very good; it was presented not only in our department, but also at the university conference and city conference. It was recommended for the students’ essays’ collection. But after Neborachok’s characteristics everything was lost: it was him, who proposed my expulsion.
My group had a meeting and my co-students criticized me. It was very painful. But one thing was edifying: Dmytro Kyryk, from Vinnytsya oblast’,by that time a party member, spoke in my defense. By the way, eventually he became a professor and doctor of philosophy in Kiev theater school. He was the only one to speak in my defense.
I graduated in 1954 when the “warming up” started. First it was almost unnoticeable, the fact that I was “proscribed”. Only after the working places were identified, the best graduates found themselves at the best, most prestigious positions. I aspired for the teacher’s position in the pedagogical school in Brody, but although an excellent student, I did not receive diploma with honors.
YEARS OF TEACHING
I graduated from the university and had to go to work. I was sent to Strilky, in the mountains near Turka, Drohobych oblast’. I went there as a teacher full of wish to teach kids and bring them up in the spirit of patriotism.
Teachers lacked at school so their workload was incredible: 42 lessons a week! But, you know, I understood teaching as a mission and sacred patriotic duty, not just the process of delivering a number of hours.
A year and a half later I went to work in the raion department of education and also taught in high school. KGB never left me alone. There was a young operative there, by name of Titarenko, not a bad guy. He used to come to the office and check teachers’ files. I wondered what he was after.
On one occasion I believed I committed a sin. I lived in the students’ dormitory. Strilky is a raion center, rather big village. People who lived in the mountains know that when winter sets in the mountain roads are buried in snow. Children have hard time going to school that is 5-7 km away. That is why in winter they lived in the dormitories. And I was given a small room there. The school was up the mountain, maybe 100 steps above. The vegetable garden was there and a beautiful house where the warden used to live. Currently the KGB boss lived there. The vegetable garden was between the house and the dormitory. There was a well in the middle of the garden with shell about two by two meters, but the water was foul in it. It was filled with iron bars so that no one falls in, and if it happens it was possible to hold to these bars and not get drowned. The well was not closed completely. Suddenly I heard a horrible animal scream. I thought: “Goodness, what is going on?” I ran outside and saw that a man has fallen into the well. “Help me!” I heard Russian accent, but what difference does it make? Help is in order. I shouted back:”Hold on, wait a bit!” He took the rails under his arms and thus managed to stay above water. The well is deep –it is usual in the mountains.
I ran to school, grabbed a ladder and passed it to the man. He got out by the ladder and I saw it was the KGB boss. He got drunk and fell into the well!”My God! – I thought. – “whom did I save?” It was the man who killed so many people! He used to hunt partisans, not with the sub-machine gun but with two “colts”. Once he was rounded up by five or six partisans. They surrounded him and laughed, happy to have got him finally. But he killed some of them and thus escaped death. It was a monster. So I saved a criminal!
At school I tried to inoculate children with love towards Ukraine. It was 1954-55, the kids did not remember much about partisan movement, but wanted to know about it. Teaching literature, psychology and logic I used any opportunity to highlight moral principles which could not be violated. It was formation of morality. When I taught Kotsyubinsky’s “Intermezzo” to ninth- graders I used to quote “I gave my heart to people and they threw it to the dogs”. I used to repeat that we were to be humane and kind, but there was one kind of animals that I was not sorry for. I am sorry for a cat and for a dog, for a hare and for a wolf, because they are our younger brothers. But one animal just does not deserve my pity. “What animal is that?”– "An informer”.
I was a school principal in Nahuyevychy, where Franko was born. Then I worked in a school in Pidbuzh. I also led a literary studio. M. Rudnitsky presented a book of memoirs to us.
About 10 in the morning a ninth-grader Petruk came running: “Mykhaylo Mykolayovych, I was mugged!” – “Why did the boys beat you?” – “I don’t know.” – “Bring them here”. And it was night already, time to go to bed. I asked: “How did they beat you?” –“They threw a blanket over my head, they kicked me and beat me”. A couple of boys arrived. I asked them: “Boys, did you beat him?” – “Yes, we did”. “Why?” No answer. I asked them once more, why they had beaten Petruk. – “He is an informer”.
Pidbuzh was not a raion center any more. We were merged with Boryslav. One KGB man remained in Pidbuzhzh, a captain Voloshyn. Then, in 1958 KGB was downsized, so he was fired. I was called to raion education department and told to find job for him. I said: “I can’t do it. He has no education. I will not take this responsibility”. But they were pressing me and finally I said: “The only job I can offer is lab assistant”. I talked to him: “I can’t take you because I have no position which would allow you to cover your living costs. You used to have rather high salary, much higher than that of teachers.– "You know, I am still paid 600 roubles". He is not on a payroll any longer, but, if he is still paid, then he is an agent. “Good, if you get 600 roubles, then I can take you as lab assistant – 300 roubles more. So altogether you will have 900 roubles". Our own KGB man, I thought, OK, let him be.
So Voloshyn used that student to find out the general atmosphere among students and teachers. That is why the boys had beaten him up as an informer, who reported everything to Voloshyn. We caught him, he reported on you too”. I said: “Guys, I think you did right in beating an informer – I would have done the same myself. But you must have courage to face punishment for taking justice into your own hands. I will ask the teachers’ board to give you a lower grade in behavior for the beating”. They went away and I thought: “What did I say? How can I correct the situation?”
A meeting of the teachers’ board began. I raised an issue of the two boys’ behavior. (One of them is now a chief surgeon in Stary Sambor, and another – an associate professor in Lviv medical institute. They were very gifted children.) I proposed to give them “four” in behavior, but the teachers knew I was reluctant to do it. They were aware of my views. I proposed voting to resolve the issue. The board voted against. I said: “Thank you very much”. And behind the doors I heard “Hurrah!” All the ten-graders were eavesdropping at the doors.
I had good, comradely relations with my students, as if I was their older colleague. I remember school with a lot of love. I think I have chosen my life path incorrectly. Had I been a teacher longer, I would have done much more for my people and to my own satisfaction. In a nutshell, I always remember September 1st, the first bell and I never miss this day.
V.Kipiani: But how did it happen that children brought up on the traditions of liberation fight became soviet citizens at 10-15 years of age. Was it a double standard or a double way of thinking?
M.H.: Your question is well-justified. I will tell you that personality is formed under the influence of many factors apart from family – environment, for one. There is no need to reiterate how Moscow maltreated Galicia population. To give just one example: the year was 1945. We all admired heroic partisan fighters. And the secretary of Drohobych oblast’ party committee Olekseenko said:” Do you think we could not bring the banderivtsy to heel within a month? Why, we triumphed over fascism. But we strike and then we stop, we strike and then we stop”. This phrase made me shudder: so they could destroy us, but something prevented them from doing so, maybe humanism?” I heard it at the age of 15. And here lies the answer: conformism! It starts with circumstances: a smart man would make such an utterance. It sticks in one’s mind, making a tiny crack in it. Later I understood it was just tactical trick of the secretary of the oblast’ party committee. But at that time I thought: indeed, such super-power messing around with our partisan movement…
I worked as a teacher and as a principal of several schools, and when in 1957 a campaign for engaging local people to work in the management of raions and oblast’s I was invited by the head of the oblast’ department of education Verbivsky and offered position of a principal in Bronytsya, Drohobych raion. I was a “black sheep” among principals, as I was not a party member. However, for two years I worked as a principal in this village from 1957 till 1959.
When the school principal in Nahuyevychy was transferred to become head a kolkhoz, they had to look for another principal able to combine administrative and pedagogical operation, with due consideration to the heritage of Ivan Franko who was born in this village. Foreign delegations came to the village, to the small museum. A man capable of hosting these delegations, talking to them was needed. I accepted the offer. As a member of the teachers’ body I immediately initiated the construction of a boarding-type school. We built it within a year. At least the building was erected. I tried to help the museum. We bought 100 volumes of the “Learned notes of Taras Shevchenko society” and ethnographic collections to expand museum exhibits.
I organized educational activity in such a way that all the lessons having to do with Franko would be conducted in the museum. Other teachers often came to see how museum lessons were organized without violations of pedagogical requirements. I was so inspired after the first year that I decided not to leave but to research Franko. I’ll work as a principal, write my essays (the body of relevant literature was huge) and finally, find peace of mind.
But the principal of the neighboring village of Pidbuzh (former raion center) passed away and I was transferred. The school was much bigger. I had to bring the pedagogical body together once again. My dreams of scholarly work were not to come true.
ON THE EVE
I was lucky, nevertheless; in Boryslav (which was not only raion center, but also the seat of the city and raion party committees) an engineer from oil and gas industry became secretary of the city party committee. This person also had scholarly ambitions, but was made by his party to become a secretary. I found it out and went to see him:” Look, your scholarly career was damaged – why wouldn’t you let me go?” –“I have no replacement”. – “I will train a person to replace me”. He agreed, I spent half a year in Pidbuzh, then went to Lviv believing that there I would be able to go in for my research. At that time the first laboratory of the industrial psychology was opened in the Soviet Union. It was called “Research and implementation laboratory of labor psychology and physiology”. It was led by Ya.Tsurovsky, an experienced researcher. Back in the 20-s and 30-s he dealt with psycho-technical research, later criticized by the soviet authorities.
I came to Lviv in March 1961, started working in this lab and explored the social climate in Lviv. It was defined by the political “thaw”. The years 1961 – 1963 were the climax of pseudo-democratization, so to speak, the Khrushchev’s version of it. Meetings with Lviv intellectuals convinced me that my scholarly aspiration will have to be put aside for the sake of more important tasks – the revival of the Ukrainian spirit in Ukraine and search for the ways to get Ukrainian people out of the predicament it faced.
BEGINNINGS OF SHISTDESYATNIKI MOVEMENT
Around April 1962 a group of Kiev writers – Ivan Drach, Mykola Vinhranovsky and Ivan Dzuyba – came to Lviv, accompanied by Dmytro Pavlychko who was from Galicia. He went to Kiev first as post-graduate student and then got engaged in the creative life of the city. That visit affected us deeply. We saw young men (Drach was only 26 at the time), who were very enthusiastic about revival of the Ukrainian spirit in Ukraine. Their poetry electrified the audience. I sat behind the writer Anton Shmyhelsky. He worked at certain point in “Silrob” and supported the soviet power regardless of what it was doing to people. He was sitting in the first row, and during the recital in the university he kept saying: “What are these guys doing? They are just like May flies – he today and gone by tomorrow.”
Then I raised my hand to be allowed to speak. The recital was moderated by well-known writer and poet. R.Bratun’. “Here is Horyn’ willing to speak. But there is another Horyn’ present, will he speak too?” I said: “I wanted to point out that we are witnessing the birth of new tendencies in the Ukrainian literature. Some people here claim these young poets are nothing but May flies. But they are not May flies; they represent the new wave and they have come to stay for good!” My speech was met with stormy applause.
That evening I met I.Dzyuba for the first time. Before that, in 1959, he published my first essay in the “Vitchyzna” magazine, but we didn’t know each other personally and just exchanged letters. I talked with Dzyuba and we found common ground.
That is how the movement known as “shistdesyatniki” started. Interesting articles appeared. The first one aimed against the communist party policies and was written by someone from Kuban’ – “Thoughts and deliberations of a confused reader”. The reader was confused by russification.
The sentiments expressed in these articles reflected the shift from general principles of humanism towards acute criticism of the imperial policies of the communist party. From the essay of 1962 “Thoughts and deliberations of a confused reader”, to the piece written after the arson in Academy of Sciences library. “Re: Pohruzhalsky process” in 1964. Supposedly it was written by Ye.Sverstyuk. Then even more oppositional article – “Ukrainian education in the chauvinistic restraints” – appeared. Ye.Kuznetsova had something to do with it. She used the Ministry of education documents concerning russification of the Ukrainian education. In 1965 she was sentenced to five years in jail. She served the term and died a year or two later. It was a very suspicious death, but no-one wrote about it. Her merits were duly appreciated: 5 years constituted one of the longest imprisonment terms. Only two people in Ukraine had 6-years’sentences – M.Masyutko and I. P.Zalyvakha and Kuznetsova had 5 years, while the others had 3 or 4. Bohdan had 3, M.Osadchy-2, and Zvarychevksa was sentenced to just a year. The KGB of the Ukr.SSR commander colonel-general Nikitchenko was a liberal. Few years later the sentence of 3 years ceased to exist – it was just our luck.
My participation was most active. Although I took part in the scientific conferences, in the international conference of psychologists in Leningrad I made a presentation, my articles were published in Moscow and Kiev, I still considered the participation in opposition movement my main task. We organized leaflets’ printing. We had typewriters. KGBists followed us permanently. We felt it and were well-aware that we could be put to jail.
THREE IVANS – SVITLYCHNY, DZYUBA, DRACH. YEAR 1962
I want to draw your attention to yet another person, namely, to Ivan Svitlychny. You know, I always wondered how people from Naddnipryanshchyna came to join the opposition movement. When I met Dzyuba we hit it right from the start and used a casual “thee” addressing each other. I asked him :”Tell me Ivan, how could it happen that you, a graduate from the Russian language and literature department of Stalin pedagogical institute, who did his post-graduate studies and wrote his candidate dissertation on Mayakovsky – how could you leave all that behind?” I asked how he managed to overcome the stereotypes of the school communist upbringing and switch to the acute anticommunist literary criticism. He answered: I was much influenced by Borys Hrynchenko letters”. I was always curious about the non-conformism origins. Looks like everyone has his own way.
So in 1962 Ivan Svitlychny came to see me. We met a lot with Dzyuba and Svitlychny, either alone or with my brother Bohdan. Dzyuba was married to a girl from Galicia. It was a trend – Drach and Vinhranovsky also married Galicia girls. We saw it as a step of overcoming lack of trust and suspicion between the residents of Naddnipryanshchyna and Western Ukraine stirred up by the imperialist propaganda.
It was a tangible expression of the contacts between East and West. Speaking on a recital, I once said there was nothing new in it. It was initiated by Ivan Franko, marrying a Kievite O.Khouzhynska.
So, in summer 1962 I met Svitlychny and we had a very serious conversation as to what is to be done. I think I haven’t had such a serious discussion with any other person from that region. We talked with Dzyuba. He said:”You know what – theoretical substantiation of the current situation and of the way to proceed is in order”. Back in 1962 he was already contemplating the book that saw the light of day in 1965 – "Internationalism or russification?” I talked with Svitlychny.
We were intoxicated by the spring air. From the first days, when we didn’t yet know each other, we were talking openly, evoking absolutely anti-governmental and anticommunist ideas. There was no fear, no security. I cannot reconstruct these talks today, but we were very close from the beginning and used to share most subversive ideas.
So, when I met Svitlychny (I do not remember whether Bohdan was present) – I asked him a question as to what to do next. He retorted: “And what do you think?” I said:”We have UPA experience, underground OUN experience”. Svitlychny said: “You know, the underground activity can embrace only a small number of people with no outreach to broad walks of the Ukrainian society”. That is why he suggested to go out “with the open visor” and to declare our ideas freely. May be, we could not voice them one hundred percent, certain conformism would be there, but it’s better than nothing because we would be able to address large numbers of people. Svitlychny suggested organizing special structures to disseminate our ideas. He gave examples of Les’Tanyuk’s Club of the creative youths. Similar clubs were already in place in Kiev, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and one was being set up in Lviv. I said it reminded me the 70-s of the last centuries, “narodniki” movement and suggested to go to the library to check it up. In fact the difference between the tsarist security department Okhranka and communist KGB was insubstantial – same methods, same practices.
I went to the library. I succeeded in finding several collections of the court papers, written by investigators and personal files of the “narodniki” dating back to the 70-s. There was time when they used to “go out to the people”. But it did not last for long, and they started working illegally – legal anti-governmental operation turned out impossible under totalitarian regime. After 2-3 years of such operation they were arrested. .
Having looked through the files, I went to Kiev to report to Svitlychny. It was a simple math – if the experience of Okhranka is interpolated to KGB activity then our time is due in 1964-65. 1962 + 2 = 1964, 1962 + 3 = 1965". Ivan’s response was: “So let’s roll!”
Thus we were aware that we won’t last long. My forecast turned out incredibly precise: two years later, in 1964, I.Drach came from Kiev and said:”Mykhaylo! I talked with a KGB colonel and he said they will get you”.
All right, we’ve hidden everything and got ready for the frisks and arrests. My wife Olha Matselyukh as a student was sentenced to 25 years (she spent 4 years in prison), so it was nothing new to her. We had no conflicts because of my political involvement and possibility of leaving her alone with a child. We had no problems of that kind.
I waited for a month or two but no one came for me. I could go on with my work. But in October 1964 Brezhnev came to power. It became colder, the thaw was done with. Several acquaintances of mine were called to KGB and warned that they would be imprisoned if they don’t stop their activities. I was not called, though.
We were arrested in 10 months, stood trial and were sent to the concentration camps - 20 persons all in all, out o 100 hundred people arrested and tried. That was the end of the first period of the 60-s.
V.O.: But what did you do specifically?
M.H.: First, we organized meetings and discussions on national questions, et up the Clubs of Creative Youth.
Second, we organized recitals. I remember how wonderfully A.Kozak recited Shevchenko. He created amazing dramatized shows using Shevchenko’s “Caucasus” and everyone understood that it was aimed against the Russian Empire. These Shevchenko recitals were beautiful and gather big audiences in Lviv and in the country outside.
Third – we printed leaflets on a typewriter and photocopies of documents, articles and poems. They were then disseminated among public. We distributed not only articles but also verses written by I.Drach, M.Vyngranovsky, L.Kostenko, V.Symonenko, B.Mamaysur and Russian poets as well. This printing activity required big volumes and a lot of paper.
Fourth – we organized meetings with the academic staff from various educational institutions. Once we had about 20 professors and undergraduates from the Institute of commerce. I made a presentation on political situation in Ukraine.
But typing and photocopying the articles with their further dissemination still remained most important. It worked like that: we made a photocopy of a booklet “The Code of Rights of Ukraine”, published abroad and made thick photocopied books. I sent the film to V.Moroz in Ivano-Frankivsk and told him to make 5 photocopies – he will keep four and return one to me for dissemination.
It was a very time-consuming job. Many people in many institutions worked on it. Everything had to be orchestrated properly.
That is what the 60-s were about: artistic clubs, Shevchenko recitals in Kiev and Lviv, marches to Shevchenko monument on May 22 and the articles of our talented journalists that raised the temperature of public discontent among Ukrainians on both banks of Zbruch river.
V. Chornovil was in Lviv at that time. First he was a komsomol cell organizer, then he worked in the construction of Kiev hydroelectric power plant, then at the TV studio and spent more time in Lviv, especially after he got married. We kept in touch always. I want to tell you that as an organizer or an editor Chornovil aws a unique man. He was an inexhaustible generator of new ideas. And not only in media business (Later at the end of the 80-s, alongside with “Ukrainsky visnyk”, special TV programs for Ukrainian TV, press releases of UHG, he also triggered the formation of the fort anti-imperialist organizations. It caused acute discussions, quarrels, but he had no match in his gift of organizing the work and choosing right people.
In 1964 Chornovil returned from Kiev and said: “Mykhaylo, we have to meet”. We met in the country outside Lviv at the site of the current skansen. He brought a pamphlet from Kiev “Trends and tasks of the Ukrainian liberation movement. Short excerpts for discussion”. I did not know who the author was. Now I know it was Ye.Pronyuk, maybe, with someone else. It was a project or a blue-print for the future program aimed at building up a new Ukrainian state. I was fascinated with it. We read it and we walked discussing it. We were walking around a hill, presumably not to be caught. The hill is round covered with forest. Looking like a hay stack. Suddenly a young girl appeared on the very peak – despite the forest – and looked around. We were followed! I said: “Slavko, that is it. We are fixed.”
THE END OF “THAW”
The year was 1964. We typed and disseminated the pamphlet. Actually it signified the new stage in sihistdesyatniki political operation” Before we had publications criticizing the regime, e.g. “Re: Pohruzhalsky trial” or “Ukrainian education in the chauvinistic shackles”. But it was all about criticism, while the answers to the questions “What is to be done?” and “Where are we going?” were provided by the pamphlet “Trends and tasks of the Ukrainian liberation movement. Short excerpts for discussion”.
I understood it will lead to the direct confrontation with the authorities. We distributed the pamphlet within a narrow circle for discussion planning to get together later to devise a final program. So, first I discussed it with Chornovil and he supported me.
But we never managed to get together. In 1965 I told my wife I could not go on like that. I was completely exhausted. Exams for the candidate’s degree, lab work, starting of another lab…I worked in the fork-lift trucks plant and at the same time I set up a lab in the railway station. In order to collect data I rode in the cabin of the electro-locomotives and diesel locomotives together with operator. I used to go from Lviv to Shepetivka observing the operator’s work directly, making pictures of him and ending up with most interesting data on the psychological aspects of operator’s work. That is what I did. My work day was like this: till 4pm I worked in the fork-lift trucks plant, and between 4 and 7 pm I work in the railroad making my observations for the research. After that I go to the Scientific Library to read for the exams.
Fatigue was supreme. I told my wife: “Olya, let us go somewhere, at least for two weeks.” Of course, we had no money; we spent it all on paper, on typewriters. You see, we had to stash some portion of salary every time. And the salaries were not high: I earned 140 roubles., roughly 100-150, and my wife earned 60-70. So our joint income was 200, and biting off 30-40 roubles was not easy.
I said: “Let us on vacation”. We went to Feodosia where our good friend M.Masiutko resided. The weather was dismal – strong winds, no swimming in the sea, just sitting on a birch tree and freezing – no good. And it was known that in Koktebel’, just 30 km from Feodosia there was a vacation home belonging to the Writer’s Union of the USSR. There is a bay there surrounded by mountains on both sides so it is quiet, no wind, good to swim and relax. So we made arrangements, took a bus and off we went. 30 km is not a big deal.
On our arrival to Koktebel I found out that D.Pavlychko was vacationing there. So instead of heading straight to the sea, we went in search of Pavlychko. We came to the Writer’s House. It was a large fenced territory with small two-bedroom cottages fit for a family. They were spread like mushrooms. Turned out R.Ivanchuk, D.Pavlychko and I.Drach spent time there too.
We had a talk. At the second meeting I told them: “You know guys, every time I go to Koktebel a man is accompanying me – a tall, solidly built man with a knapsack. I have a feeling it’s KGB man”. And one of them retorted: “You are sick, you are obsessed with that persecution”.
We went hiking. I related to them Khrushchev’s article about Stalin’ death translated into Russian, form the French magazine “Paris Match”. We disseminated it. It was a true and detailed story.
On my second visit I told them again: “Guys, I have a feeling that man is a KGB spy”. They reiterated I suffered from persecution mania. We went hiking in Kara-Dag mountains. There is a big mountain with a steep descent 100 m high above the sea shore. One gets dizzy standing there. A bush of wild rose grew there, and suddenly we noticed my “good friend” with his knapsack and radio antenna sticking out of it. “So, how about mania?” – I asked. Pavlychko looked frightened suddenly. He had to deal with KGB earlier, he had been summoned there, so he knew what the meaning of it was.
But my stay in the Crimea came to an end, because I had only 70 roubles on me, having left another 70 roubles at home. Later KGBists stole them leaving us penniless. I told Pavlychko: ”Dmytro, you go to Kiev by car. I have almost no money, just for the tickets and a rouble more to buy bread for the trip, nothing else. Give us a ride to Kiev. It will be you and your wife and the two of us. And from Kiev I will somehow make it to Lviv”. Dmytro said: “Wait on the road and I will pick you up”. But something prevented us from doing so.
I said: “You know, when my wife travels, she always takes a valise with the lot of unnecessary clothes, and I have a lot of books, so it will be hard for me to carry all that. I will not go to the road. If you will, it is a kilometer and a half from the road to Masiutko’s place, so you can come and pick us up”. He nevr did.
Good weather finally set in Feodosia. It would be nice to stay longer, but – no money. We came to the sea shore and spread a blanket. Olya went to swim and I stood aside. Then a man spread his blanket near ours and lay down. Olya stepped out of the sea and we lay on our blanket. The man said promptly: “Good day to you! Are you pani [Ms. – polite form of address in Ukr.] Olya?” (Pani -– in 1965!”). “Yes”, she answered. And he went on: “You know, I was in exile with your friends I.Strilchyk and G.Pavlliuk”. We started talking. He introduced himself as Yaroslav. He gave his last name, too, but I did not remember it. “Where are you staying?” – At Masiutko’s. ‘I’ll come to visit you”.
He joined us bringing cognac with him. Masiutko liked to take a shot. We were drinking cognac and talking. I disliked the man. I told Olya:” I don’t like him, he is too obtrusive”. He asked: “How long do you plan to stay here?” – “We are leaving tomorrow”. – Do you have tickets yet?” – “No, we don’t, but we hope to purchase them right in the station”. In August the trains circulate with 10minutes’ interval, everyone is returning from Crimea. – “I am going with you and I’ll help you” – offered Yaroslav. – “And are you staying?” – “No, I finished my research and I am leaving for Lviv by plane today”.
We came to the railway station. But no way! Everything is full to capacity. Nothing in the coaches. The second and the third train passed. Yaroslav came to one of the carriages and showed some sort of ID. I noticed it, but, with his back to me he did not notice I was looking. Then he waved to us. “I arranged transportation for you”. But still we had no tickets. I asked the conductor what the nearest stop was. – Pyatykhatki which was beyond the Crimean boundaries. “Will you, then, buy us tickets?” And I gave him money. It turned out the ticket was cheaper than expected because the trip to Pyatykhatki was free. The conductor brought the tickets, I wanted to give him something to thank him, but he refused point blank. He put us in the compartment where the man with a child already traveled. He did not talk to us at all.
At that time I was more outgoing. I stepped out of the compartment and saw a one-hundred percent Galician dandy. He was wearing a suit, with mandatory vest and chain watch in his pocket. A typical Galician man from the 30-s. A round belly and round face, just like a priest. I started a conversation, criticizing soviet power right from the start. He was nodding in agreement. Olya said: “You are one bizarre man. You might talk to a lamp-post”.
We arrived in Krasne, 40 км from Lviv. On our way we passed Zaporizhzhya. I was fascinated with Ukraine’s bounty. We had but 1 rouble, and peasants were selling tomatoes, 5 kopecs apiece. And tomatoes were that big! We bought several kilograms, half-loaf of bread and we had a 3 liters’ wine bottle provided by Masiutko. We had food – tomatoes and bread. My wife started repacking our luggage. Suddenly a man entered the compartment and quickly sat down. I asked: “Why did you sit down? You see we have full house here. What do you want? You see my wife is packing things. Out with you!” That’s what I said, almost to the word. He rushed out. But in moment the doors opened again to let in four men with militia captain as their commander. There were 2 or 3 militia men, and, as usual, a man in plain clothes. He introduced himself and ordered me to get ready: “You are detained. Let us go to Lviv to clarify the situation”. They ignored my rage completely. I told Olya before chasing the first ‘passenger’ out “That’s it”. I knew he was from KGB.
We got ready and we went out. People crowded in the passage. I shouted: “Friends! Whoever is going to Lviv – please let it be known that I was arrested! My name is Horyn’! And I gave some addresses, that of my brother and some more.
We were put into a car. KGB men loved ceremony. To arrest the two of us – my wife and me, they brought along three cars. The first car had only driver in it, I went in the second, and my wife – in the third.
We were brought to Lviv KGB.
Without giving us a moment to regain our bearings they told us we were going for a search. I was taken alone, leaving Olya behind. She stayed in the prison. We arrived at my home. I was stunned. Before going to Feodosia we have hidden all the books. But the boys who had the keys came in our absence and brought more literature. No doubt, without it I would have behaved quite differently during the inquest. I think the KGBists needed the “locomotive” to put the case together. As the books were found in my apartment I had to be that “locomotive”.
V.O.: You said “boys”. Did you mean your colleagues or KGB men?
M.H.: They were our guys, Bohdan’s friends, mostly. A noteworthy detail: A.Shevchuk, V.Shevchuk’s brother worked in Zhytomir printing house. Bohdan found it out. Working in the printing house, Anatoliy probably we would be able to get some prints. Someone said that the prints could be copied, put into a frame and it will be much quicker than working on a typewriter. So Bohdan went to Zhytomir and brought back several kilograms of that print. Some portion was left in Kiev (Halya Sevruk hid it on Dnipro hills), and another was brought to Lviv. I decided to put it into a big coffee jar and cover it with coffee. And it worked, they did not find it.
When the search started I looked for money first, but it was not there! There was certain Batishchev among them. He studied with me at the university. I do not know the details but somehow he had stolen 70 roubles.
It was on August 26, 1965. року. I was brought home in the afternoon. The search lasted for about 8 hours till late at night, maybe, till am. I was taken to the jail, but they let Olya out.
I found myself in a serious predicament – they had the whole bunch of incriminating materials against me. “Ways and tasks of the Ukrainian liberation movement” was the worst.
How did I behave during the inquest? For the first six days I refused to talk altogether. After they have showed me the testimony of late Teodozy Staryk and other evidence, I took a different stand: “There was nothing anti-constitutional in my actions! Criticism of the soviet power does not violate constitution, it is not the struggle for Ukraine separation from the Soviet Union etc.” – “But you were in possession of this literature, right?” – “Yes, I was”. I could not tell someone brought it into apartment. So I acknowledged the fact, but claimed there was no criminal action in it. “Did you give it to anyone to read?” – “Yes, I did”.
I believe that trying to prove that you are not what they take you for is absolutely pointless. By the end of the investigation I was positively sure about it. Then I took a firm stand. At the trial in my final word I criticized Khrushchov’s, Kosygin’s and Bezhnev’s politics sharply.
We had many people among us who were sure they might be arrested. Many of them were artists not concerned with politics. Ivan Svitlychny was arrested, but not Ivan Dzyuba or Yevhen Sverstyuk.
I would say the “shistdesyatnyki” were a striped lot as to their views and tactics. Galicians were focused at building an independent Ukrainian state. Many people from Naddnipryashchyna, I.Dzyuba among them, were focused at criticizing the current regime and improving the communist state machine. So, approaches were the same, though the goals differed. And it could be felt.
In the preliminary detainment jail where we spent 8 months prior to the trial, we were still naïve, considering our age. KGB used to place ‘stool pigeons” in our cells. I hoped to get in touch with other cells. We had a kind of a washbasin, like a trough, with holes in the bottom. I did not know they were made specifically for us. I used to put small notes there to control the investigation process. But everything ended in the hands of our investigators. Once I was thrown into penitentiary isolation cell.
I received an interesting proposal once. There was a KGB functionary by name of Klym Halsky. I believe he was a very smart man. Probably, he was the most knowledgeable man among all the KGBists from Moscow, Kiev and Lviv. I’ve never have seen another KGB man so well versed in the matters of literature. He knew literature very well. Sometimes he participated in the inquest. Talking to him was interesting. But I knew by then about “stool pigeons”, about my own bust and my futile efforts to establish contacts with other inmates (I was the only one trying to do it.) later Bohdan, who had been arrested on the same day, told me that once he was taken to the Halsky’s office where he saw a man diligently trying to reproduce my handwriting on a board
V.O.: On a blackboard??
M.H.: I believe so. I don’t remember the details, but Bohdan noticed it. Then Halsky entered and shouted :”Idiots! What are you doing?” Thus he understood that provocation was in store.
After the end of the inquest I was presented with the verdict and asked whether I pleaded guilty. Like everyone else, that I plead guilty only partially. I acknowledged the facts but not their interpretation as anti-soviet activities’. I decided to speak up at the trial.
V.O.: Were you the only one tried or were there more?
M.H.: We were numerous but later they divided us into groups. M.Osadchy, M.Zvarychevska and B.Horyn’ remained with me. It made four of us. I was preparing to the process diligently. I wanted to know what triggered the fabrication of our case. Halsky would ask me: “What are you trying to unearth here; are you trying to get to the bottom of it?" The file consisted of 17 volumes. “Everyone has read and signed that article – looks like everyone but you”. – “I can’t read everything at once – each volume has 300 pages. I have a right to familiarize myself with my case and read it as long as I wish”. I made another volume of my notes.
The beginning was very simple. Allegedly M.Zvarychevska came to the library of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and left some essay in the book she returned. Albert and Moscalenko, the librarians, wrote a note to KGB claiming they had found an anti-soviet document in the book. That was KGB’s version, probably to protect their agents.
I got my speech ready. But when the hearing started they wanted to take all my notes away: allegedly, I cannot take anything inside.”How come I cannot? Why not? I have to defend myself! They wanted to know the contents of my notes. When I left my cell to take a walk I took everything with me. “Why are you taking the notes?”–“Because they are mine”. , They tried to take them away from me at the walk time, during transportation to the court – I did not let them. My presentation was written in advance, too.
On the first or second day I decided to proceed in such a way as not to incriminate others. I knew that if my final word sounded too harsh I would be given 1-2 years. I wrote a note to M.Osadchy, M.Zvarychevska and B.Horyn’. One of the guards, by name of Ivan, was from
Galicia. The judges left for lunch and we were held in “boxes”. It is a narrow cell where one even cannot turn around, about 50 сm wide and about 1 m long. One can only sit in it. I said to the guard: “Look, Ivan, could you pass a note to my brother?” And they - M.Osadchy, M.Zvarychevska and Bohdan, were taken to another room. I understood I was chosen for the “star of the trial”role “Could you pass a note to my brother?” – “I will do it”. I wrote more or less the following: “ Bohdan, I know it is risky, but my final word will be rather harsh”. I don’t remember whether I added: “You don’t need to meddle”. Or something to that effect. And I gave it to Ivan.
After the recess we came back to the court room. I saw a piece of paper on the prosecutor’s desk. Could Ivan have done it? The prosecutor stood up solemnly (the actual hearing has not started yet) and said:”So, Horyn’, are you willing to risk? Horyn’ wanted to pass a note to his bother. Please attach it to the file as an exhibit”. And handed it to the judge. Then I knew it was the end of it. The hearing lasted for 6 days, if I am not mistaken.
Everyone declined the final word, but I still wanted it. I started speaking and noise started in the audience.KGB men brought to the hearing people from a neighboring hairdresser’s shop. They were strangers to us and no one from our circle was present. They were shouting and making noise to prevent me from speaking. Then the court members went out for deliberations. On coming back the judge announced the verdict. The audience kept shouting: “Give him more, it is not enough!”
We were escorted from the courtroom and packed into the car. I was not aware at the time that a group of Kievites came to the trial by bus, including L.Kostenko, I.Drach, M.Kotsyubynska, I.Dzyuba, other people who tried to disrupt the proceedings. I did not know they were chased away by militia. That is why they took us of the court house not through the central door, but by sideways, through the canteen, so we came out in Pekarska street. I saw writing on the wall, but never managed to read it. Later I heard it was Lina Kostenko who had written a verse or something on the wall.
We got our verdicts on April 18. I listened to mine calmly – 6 years. I.Hel’ got 3 years, Bohdan – 3, Osadchy – 2 and Zvarychevska 1 year, even less, a bit more than 8 months. I came home quite calm, but I noticed immediately the change in my treatment by the guards.
V.O.: Home means your cell, right?
M.H.: Yes, home means the cell. The behavior of the guards changed, they showed more human attitude and respect. I had a feeling they even sympathized with me hearing my final word. I was immediately transferred to the solitary cell.
V.O.: Аnd before the trial, how many inmates were there in the cell?
M.H.: At the time of the inquest I had just a “stool pigeon” for a cell-mate. But by the time of the actual hearing I was already alone. I waited for the decision of the Supreme Court and I filed an appeal.
A funny thing happened when I was in jail. A young guard, short boy speaking good Ukrainian, once came to my cell in the evening and said:” Mr. Horyn’, could you write a couple of test papers for me? I am applying to university, department of law, I do not know how to write properly, but I am eager to study. I will supply topics for you, so please write!” I said: “Young Cossack, you do not need to give me topics, I worked at school, so I know all the standard topics. I will write if you bring me the handbooks on Russian literature because I never taught it. As far as Ukrainian goes I’ll write whatever you want. My only request: copy my work accurately, with no mistakes. If you do it diligently you will get the highest mark, guaranteed. - “Good. So I do not have to look for topics?” -”No. Just bring me paper and ink, I’ll write you everything”.
Every day I wrote 3-4 papers for him, depending on my mood. The correspondence students have their test early, not in August, like full time students. Once he came and boasted: “Mr.Horyn’, I’ve got “five”!” – “I told you!” .Russian literature paper – “five” again. ”You see – I told him. – And now you help me”. – “What with?” – Go to my wife and give her the details of my transportation. I want to see her once more.” – “All right”. – “But beware of your colleagues who keep our home under surveillance. They always gents planted there. If they catch you – forget the university and your job too. Be careful!” – “I will.”
Soon after that my door opened in the middle of the night and my guard stepped in carrying a huge knapsack, 80-90cm high. I weighed it in my hand – half a centner, at least. - “Are you crazy? How shall I take it with me? Have you seen my wife?” – “I have”. –“And she gave it to you?” – “Yes”.-”When am I to go?“ – “Now”. “What do you mean, now?” - “At five”. And it was around two in the morning. I looked into the knapsack. Good God! It contained about 10 kilograms of sugar, 10-15 cans of sprats and other preserves. And at the very bottom I found at least two kilograms of bacon cut into small pieces. At five o’clock a “black Maria” came to take me to the railway station. It was not exactly the railway station but rather a point where the train for convicts, an old-fashioned “stolypin” was waiting. Stepping out of the car I saw my wife! (Later she was waiting at the same place to see O.Zalyvakha off. She hoped to see Bohdan, too. But he was taken to Zhytomir on another train”.
V.O.: So he told her, didn’t he?
M.H.: He did, that unusual boy. She broke through the line of the guards, threw flowers at me, we embraced and kissed. I was amazed – what a decent kid! And how did he manage to do it? We went to Mordovia together with Osadchy.
V.O.: Were you held in ‘threesome” in”stolypin”?
M.H.: No, we were together with criminals. The compartment contained about 15-20 people. Among them there was a man from Rohatynshchyna. He was sentenced to 15 years for membership in OUN underground. During German occupation he was a village elder in Vinnytsya oblast’. He was sent there by OUN to organize underground work. I wondered why he was arrested so late. He was the secretary of Rohatyn raion executive committee. His past was known, but they spared him for later. Because they organized trials periodically to keep the suspense up. The KGBists are cunning. They would not put everyone in prison at once, as it would be done and forgotten No, they selected a couple of people every year to keep up anti-nationalist, anti-Ukrainian flame burning in the minds of people. So we went to the camp together.
I was impressed with Black mountain or what was its name?
V.O.: Cold mountain in Kharkiv.
M.H.: Right, Cold mountain in Kharkiv. They had prison there. We were taken to an isolated hallway, separated by high iron fence, and then to the cell. They said it was death cell. They had several cells like that. It was terribly humid. In the middle of the cell I saw a man in a puddle. I greeted him, but he did not answer. I asked him who he was, but he said nothing. He sat like a corpse for three or four hours and then he was taken away. It affected me deeply.
We all became sick because there were no bunks, just iron slabs, you know.
V.O.: I was there too, in 1974.
M.H.: Were you? Flat as flagstones, and wide as that desk.
V.O.: It was metal sheet.
M.H.: Right, not quite a plate, but a sheet, maybe several mm thick.
On our way I was impressed by a bucolic scene, so to speak. It was still in Ukraine, near Lubny. The hay stacks with gulls flying over them. A woman running – a typical Ukrainian woman, very beautiful, calling:”Tarasyk! Tarasyk! Look out!” A young woman she was, maybe 35 years of age. But Tarasyk never responded. I thought: a mom running after her son…
Then I was fascinated with birch grove in Mordovia. I have never seen it before – it is extremely beautiful. You know, the proverbial “Russian birch”. We have birch trees, but in the mixed forests. I have never seen a grove of birch trees only. I saw several kilometers of it from the compartment of the train. And I remembered Shevchenko’s verses comparing a birch to a girl in the white shift.
V.O.: But you can’t see a thing from “stolypin”, unless the guard opens the upper window.
M.H.: We saw everything. The compartment had no door, just the iron bars. I saw all that.
MORDOVIA. CONCENTRATION CAMP 11.
We were brought to the concentration camp 11 of Mordovia ARSR about dinner time. In the zone several people were waiting for us. V.Pidhoretsky was the first to approach me “Are you Horyn’?”-“Yes, it’s me. And how do you know? – Let’s go to Mykhaylo Maykhaylovych!”
I learnt about Mykhaylo Mykhaylovych at the time of the investigation. The “stool pigeon” stayed with me for a day or two after the trial, to give me the full information. He said: “You are going to the camp where Mykhaylo Soroka is kept. He was a commissary in UPA.” But in fact he never was, because he was not in Ukraine at the time of UPA operations. He spent all his life in prison, and he did not participate in the resistance movement. They imprisoned him in 1935, let him out briefly in 1949 and put him back to jail.
On our way to the barracks we met a man with shaved head and blue eyes that looked blood-shot and tired. His gait was bizarre as if he was walking on prosthetic devices. He was stepping firmly, without bending his legs and his head was shaking. Big head, tired eyes. He was in a T-shirt. One could wear T-shirt at that time. I wondered at his posture – a stolid man, like a tightly inflated ball. Later on I found out he was a world-class athlete. Some people greeted him on the way. I knew his son Bohdan and we greeted each other. They were ready to welcome us. But how could they beat my supplies? I put the food on the table. They hadn’t seen such delicacies for ages, because there were not contacts with Ukraine.
And our camp life started. We were given three days for adjustment and for necessary purchases. Osadchy and I were assigned beds in a barrack.
Then we went to work. It was a saw-mill. Very simple wooden planks were made there. It was not a hard job and it was always possible to steal some time to read. The workshop had stacks of wood so it was easy to find hiding place. You could lie there for half a day and ho one would find you. It can’t be compared with what came later.
Every evening I told something to the groups of 2-3 persons. Well, you know these 100 meters’ strolls – an informer on one hand, an informer on the other. I said: “Guys, it does not work, I cannot write a letter, I cannot read a newspaper. Let us do it another way: I’ll make a presentation on political situation on Ukraine. Groups’ representatives will attend. The whole camp has 1800 or 1750 inmates. Bring about 80 persons”.
Groups’ representatives came together – there was even one Tatar among them, about 80 persons all in all. I offered them bacon and sprats and sugar – all I had. The boys made a bucket of tea, then another one, and then one more. They managed to get even a big bowl of cabbage. We placed all that in a big circle right on the grass, 10-15 m in diameter.
V.O.: Was it a Sunday or what?
M.H.: No, it was a work-day, closer to the evening, but sun was still in the sky, as it was summer. I started speaking. The guards came closer immediately. No one said anything to me. People ate and drank while I was talking to them. Probably there were KGBists among the guards. I knew only a few of them. They listened to my lecture that lasted about two hours, till nine in the evening. I talked a lot, openly, ignoring the guards. I was naïve and believed that once I was in the camp nothing more could be done to me.
The questions followed. The Russians Daniel and Sinyavsky were present – they had been arrested almost simultaneously with us.
V.O.: In 1965, in September.
M.H.: They came on an earlier transport. So people had a nice meal, I told them everything I meant to and then I said: “And now I want to write a letter home. And you will relate what you know now to your communities.”.
SOSNOVKA, CAMP № 1. HRUSHEVSKY CELEBRATION
I don’t know how much time passed before I was transferred from camp 11 to camp 1. Probably, a month or two. That camp was mainly for the religious people.
V.O.: In Sosnovka village, right?
M.H.: Yes, yes. It had about 600 of people who had practiced religion.. But alongside with me V.Moroz, M.Masiutko and Hrytsko Pryshlyak (the head of the security service who got 25 years) were transferred. So the camp had some political prisoners, too.
September of 1966 came – centennial anniversary since M.Hrushevsky birth. We decided to have a celebration dedicated to Hrushevsky, bringing together all the materials we had in our disposal. Key presentation was made by Moroz. I also spoke because at home I had had a lot of books about him and his own “History of Ukraine-Rus’”, although everything had been taken away during the search. Very soon after that I was put into penitentiary cell for 15 days, for some smaller offense.
So my wife came to see me. First she came to camp 11 and was told there that I had been transferred to the camp 1. Olya is a unique woman, I must tell you. She took her valise, an old one, with which her brother B.Matselyukh had returned from Vorkuta. It was a cardboard piece made by a carpenter. She fashioned a double bottom to hide I. Dzyuba’s “Internationalism or russification?” there with twenty more articles. She put lard and other food on top of that. Naturally the guards refused to give it to me, but she gave a bottle of brandy to one of them (and it was just around November 7th) and he brought me the valise.
V.O.: What did the texts look like? Were they typewritten?
M.H.: Yes, typewritten and that thick. You can imagine how much that valise contained. Knowing Olya I returned to the service room and threw all the food out. The bottom was made so inexpertly that had the guards tried, they would immediately have discovered the truth. I took everything out and placed in my colleague’s bag, because I knew now they were sure to search me. I told to Volodymyr Leonyuk: ”Got to hide it somewhere”. -”How?” – “You know what? We have to get it to the work zone”. I left “Internationalism” with me, as it referred to our arrests in the introduction. All the rest we moved to the work zone. How did we do it? In the boots, because during the frisks on the way to work they did not make us take our boots off. So some portion was transferred to the work zone, and the other stayed in the living zone. Leonyuk told me he had hidden everything in “zavalinka”. Mordovia is very humid, so houses were built on the pillars, and to avoid drafts big “zavalinka”s [clay mounds –Ukr.] surrounded the houses. The clay was dry, and that is where Leonyuk hid the papers. Other colleagues hid another portion somewhere else.
Once Leonyuk came to me running: “Look, Jehovah witnesses were hiding their Bible and found our papers. What shall we do?”
I regained my bearings and decided to read “Internationalism or russification?” on the days when I had second work shift. I worked till morning. In the morning I went to bed. There was only one other man in our section of the barrack. He used to be a partisan, with silver teeth, a tall and slender man. I decided to read inconspicuously, so that he did not see. I was not afraid too much. I put the major part of the manuscript under my neighbor’s mattress, in case of unexpected search, and took about 17 pages. Meanwhile the man had left the barrack and moved in the direction of the main office. Was he going to turn me in? No way!
I read about 4 pages of introduction and heard a loud stamping of feet approaching the barrack. The guards were 5 or 6 altogether. On bursting into the barrack they took away the text I was reading. I had but a couple of pages in my hands, and the rest was under the mattress. But they searched the whole barrack and found everything, the whole text of “Internationalism or russification?”
Actually this is what triggered my further odyssey. I did not even have time to get used to the camp. I was probably the only inmate who, after less than a year’s stay, already got 15 days in penitentiary isolation cell, half a year in the barrack of severe regime and three years of imprisonment. I spent a bit over four years out of my term in prison and only a year and a half in the camp.
After taking the whole manuscript away they interrogated Olya, not me but her. They asked her why she had brought “Internationalism or russification?”They did not find other papers. Olya got busted, the crazy woman. She confessed she had brought it because in the introduction the author made reference to her husband. She claimed she wanted to show me that I had done nothing illegal. Dzyuba, according to her, criticized the same things.
V.O.: And she limited her confession to that pamphlet only, without mentioning other articles, right?
M.H.: No, of course not – she was not asked. Right after that I was sentenced to 15 days in penitentiary isolation cell, half a year in the barrack of severe regime, and in April 1967 I was moved to Ozerne to work on the construction of the guest house there.
M.H.: Then Olya came again to see me. But she was allowed only a short, two hours’ visit. Probably, due to her prior audacity when she had brought all the manuscripts. She was accompanied by Raya Moroz, as he was with us also and spent half a year in the barrack of severe regime. Once more they wanted to give us something. But how can they do it? To work we used to go to the work zone, where the main office is under construction in the village center. It was 500-600 m from the camp. The main office is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, like everything in a concentration camp, but nothing is built there yet. We were brought our lunches there. “Raya, you throw the sausage over the fence and they will get it” - Olya suggested. You see, Raya used to throw disc, so she was able to do it.
There was a forest near the concentration camp and it was easily approachable. “So you will tell him we have thrown Wurst – it is sausage in German”.
In the morning, around 6 o’clock, when the guards haven’t arrived in the construction zone yet, they came to the site. No one stopped them as it was not the territory of the camp. Raya said: “I am scared. I cannot throw it”. – “Then let me do it”. And Olya managed to throw several kg of sausage inside the zone. In the evening we were escorted back to our barracks. I looked around and saw Raya and Olya at the distance of 500 or may be 400 m! “Mykhaylo! Wurst! Wurst! Dort ist Wurst!" (“Sausage is there!”) When we came to work the next day, not much remained of the sausage. One of the guards must have understood. They sent a dog and it took a lot. But there were some pieces left. That is the story o the sausage.
Olya could never reconcile herself with the cruelty of isolation. So she devised another way of getting in touch with me. In 1966-67 books from home were allowed. I was writing something on Freud’s theory. So I asked her to send me books on psychology, specifically, Freud’s “Lectures in psychoanalysis”. In a letter she gave me a hint: “Read the book attentively – it is very interesting!” Well, “read attentively” is some clue, so I started turning the book this way and that way, but found nothing! Then I took a blade and cut the cover – still nothing! I cut the second cover – nothing! But, I thought, Olya would not write anything without reason. I tore the binding. Here was our pamphlet popular at the time. My, my, I thought, Olya managed even that! The book hid two more pamphlets. In my letter I wrote Freud was great and quoted some phrases from the pamphlet. She understood. But in one of the books the back of the cover was glued loosely – a piece of paper was sticking out. Maybe, the glue was bad. The censor before giving me the book pulled it and found an essay. “That is how you do it!” Of course, I did not have to wait long for my reward. I joked that it was not me, but my wife who should be put into isolation cell. Anyway, from time to time we received printed materials.
ONE HUNDRED LAT
I was taken off the construction and ordered to a workshop to sew work gloves. I sewed the gloves for three days. At 11.00 I used to do some exercise – I did it at all times and places. M.Masiutko would come out and give me support with a cigarette – while waived my arms he smoked. As he wanted to talk with me he would come very close.
I said: "Mykhaylo, you know how to read dreams. What does this one mean?” “What did you dream?” – “I saw a house with no roof, but with some wooden coverage. I was standing on it. I carried a large double-bladed sword. And I must get inside through that house-top. And it is made of wooden slabs cut in halves. I stand there with the sword knowing that I cannot cut the slab 10 cm thick with the sword. But I should pretend I know what I am doing - that’s my nature, dream or no dream. I lift the sword and with all my might I pierce the surface. And sword goes as through the butter. I make a hole and jump inside. What is the meaning of this?”
"You know, Mykhaylo, it is something bad, it is no good”.
Earlier he interpreted another dream. In my dream Masiutko and I were sitting in the severe regime barrack together. I came to the cell door and saw a padlock with “100 lat” written on it. In the morning I got up and asked Lithuanians and Letts “Guys, isn’t Lat your money unit?” We had the whole bunch of various ethnicities in the zone. They said: ‘Correct, this is Lett unit”. I asked Masiutko to read this dream. It was April 1967. Masiutko said: “It is obvious: amnesty will be announced in one hundred days and we shall go free. Let’s count from the start of April: April, May, June, and in July we go back home”. – “Mykhaylo, it is close to November feast”. – “It does not matter – if it is a big-scale amnesty, then people can come home before the November feast [passage from fall to winter].”
Exactly 100 days, Vasyl, 100 days precisely. The messenger from the main office (former soldier of Vlasov Army) arrived and announced: “Horyn’, go to headquarters”. I cwent there…
V.O.: To get the amnesty.
M.H.: To get the amnesty. I opened the door and took a look around the room. At a small table, like the one here, three men were sitting barely finding room to sit. The table was covered with the red cloth, two men were sitting and the woman, standing, for god knows what reason, announced “The court of the Zubovo-Polyana raion is now in session for the hearing of the case on Horyn’s anti-Soviet propaganda and campaigning”.
I said, literally: “What case? I did not get the verdict, I have not read it, I am not ready for defense, I have not called an attorney – so I don’t want to hear all that, this is a violation, I go away”. And I stepped out. But they twisted my arms so forcefully that my bones cracked. They pushed me to the table and I almost broke my nose, bent as I was. No case, no hearing… The judge read once more: for anti-soviet propaganda, dissemination of literature, campaigning against soviet power among the inmates, Horyn’ is sentenced to three years in Volodymyr prison. That is what she said - “Volodymyr prison”. – "To be escorted there immediately”.
V.O.: A quick job.
M.H.: Is it a fact? I stepped out and found Moroz at the door “What’s up?” I said gifts were distributed. He gave me a look and entered. He had only 4 years, of which he had already served two, from 1965 to 1967. So he had only two more left. Moroz stepped out and Masiutko was about to enter. Masiutko asked Moroz what was going on (they were not on the best of terms) and the latter answered “Go, sir, to get your gift”.
V.O.: Moroz had to stay in prison till the end of his term, correct?
M.H.: Till the end of his term, yes. And Masiutko, like me, had 6 years, so he got three. That is how we went to Volodymyr.
We went together, but then we were separated. I was placed into a cell with a certain Suvorov. On my way to Volodymyr the guys managed to give me about 2 kg of honey, 2 kg of sugar – everything was snatched from me in no time. You know how the cons do that – while I was changing my clothes everything was arranged. We had serious conflicts with Suvorov. I think, although he was a thief turned political prisoner (you know how it works, the thieves have internal quarrel and then become “political”), I took pity on him, because he had spent so many years in jail and I treated him to what I had. Later we had a most sharp talk as he did not to keep the cell clean.
The quarantine came to an end. It lasts for three weeks and you are fed 980 kilocalories per day. Then I went to Yekateryna’s block, i.e. block two in an old building. Cells are huge, 16 persons to a cell. The roof is like a cupola and the windows are two and a half meters high, so there is a lot of light. Between the bunks and the wall there is a passage about two meters or more, where you can walk. The cell is 8 meters long so two persons can easily do stretching at the same time.
We had all nationalities there. By the way, Ukrainians were represented by S.Karavansky, I.Kandyba. L.Lukyanenko was not with us at the time, but some other people were…A Lithuanian Yu.Gambikus, a Cirkassian Aslanov, whose death was tragic. Something happened to him and he announced hunger strike till death. I don’t know why he stuck to his word sanctimoniously. Dry hunger strike. On the sixth day he smelled like burning cotton – not a moldy smell but that of burning cotton. On the sixth day he was taken away. The doctor said he could not be saved.
We were many, but it is in the very middle of the crowd that new ideas sprout. Ogurtsov from Leningrad preached Pan-Russian ideas, i.e. that Russia will rule on all four oceans. We had a lot of debates with him.
S.Karavansky was eager to send information outside. He managed to send a petition out. His wife Nina Strokata taught in the Odessa University. She had a candidate in biology. Having received the letter, she went to Moscow and organized a press-conference for the foreign journalists. Information was spread all over the world. Nina came to visit him second time. Slavko said: “I want to send out a petition on behalf of all inmates, about Menshagin, the only witness of Katyn’ tragedy, who had spent here more than 20 years”. Criminal convicts, who had worked in the laundry and in the baths. It was also confirmed by K.Zarytska whom we saw through the window when she was taken to the bath-house.
I was the only person who spoke against it. You know, each person has his own experience. I said: ”Slavko, it worked once. But not a single experienced conspirator pulls up the same trick twice. They have huge intellectual center here. They would analyze all the possible versions, and find out how you managed to do it” It is not a rocket science. “
But how did he do it the first time? In Volodymyr central we had the whole bunch of magazines. We did not know who did it, but we used to receive a lot of magazines from Europe. I was receiving 17 magazines, not counting the newspapers – just fancy that! – “Philosophical studies”, "Zeitschrift fur Philosophie", “Philosophical papers” on German”, “Politika” in Serbian, “Polityka” and "Zycie literacke" in Polish. Two Czech newspapers, that main one…
V.O.: "Rude pravo"?
M.H.: "Rude pravo”. I knew better what was going on Czechoslovakia, than my wife, who came to see me.
V.O.: And for how long have they pampered you like that?
M.H.: I’ll tell you in a minute. So, what did Yaroslav do? Having lot of journals he searched for one with a cover of more or less brown color reminding of prison bunks. He put his petition inside the cover and stuck it with bread. When the guard took him to the visit room, he put it over the table on Nina’s bench, while the guard stepped out to fetch Nina. Our wives knew we were always up to something. Nina took it out, no one saw it, and so she had not been searched. Once it worked excellently. But to use the same method for the second time would be a fatal error.
V.O.: And what was the arrangement of this visit room?
M.H.: An inmate is brought in and placed to the left of the doors, while the wife is placed to right. We are separate by a wide table.
V.O.: Аnd no glass wall?
M.H.: No, it was installed later. But the table was wide - 1m and 50 or 60 cm, so you had to lie down on that table to reach the other bench. But Svyatoslav was a tall guy, so he managed to do it.
This time the guard brought him in. He placed his note on the bench. They brought Nina in. But she is preceded by a guard and followed by another. The guard took the petition and put it in his pocket. Calmly. Svyatoslav saw that he was busted and fired away: “Nina, we have here Menshagin, the only witness of Katyn’ tragedy. Please pass it on to Sakharov. They grabbed him by the collar and dragged him back to his cell. In two days he was tried again and received additional 8 years of jail. He had been sentenced already to 25 years in 1945, but he spent a bit of time as free man. So his term counted from the time when he returned to jail to do the rest of his time in 1965. In 1967 I believe he had 4 years left. So 8 more years were added to his 4.
BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF POSSIBLE
We wished to do our best. I wonder whether you felt the same, but my permanent feeling was to get beyond the boundaries of the prison walls, to let someone know about me. So, when the inmates protested against borsch with worms swimming in it, we were thrown into different blocks. Ukrainians, i.e. Kandyba, Lukyanenko and I, sometimes joined by Krasivsky, were thrown into the dungeons of the medical ward. It was a terrible place. They must have had some fungus there. The bread brought for dinner was all moldy and inedible by the evening. There was no place to dry it. In summer we used to take our bread out on the everyday stroll and dry it a bit in the air. Or we had to eat it all at once, to stuff ourselves with it and have nothing more to eat later.
In this cell I made a suggestion to send a letter to the UNO, relating what was going on here. Levko said: “You know, I believe we are being poisoned here. We are to beware of poisoning. They want to make idiots of us.” I did not share his fear, but nevertheless I answered: “Levko, this game is very dangerous. If you think they want to finish you by poisoning, you can give themgrounds to announce you mentally incompetent. Even if I am poisoned I would not mention it, nor think about it. It is very dangerous.”
After three years I was entitled to a parcel. Olya sent me a parcel that weighed 5 kilograms. It was honey with a bunch of vitamins ground to dust in it. It was something very special. We tasted it and Levkosaid it should be thrown away as poison. I said: “Levko, I don’t believe it. I will go ahead and eat it”. But if my comrades refuse, what can I do? Eat my honey with them staring at me? How would it look from the moral point of view? Well, they insisted, and threw these 5 kg of honey out.
So, I had an idea of sending our petition to the UN – by means of a kiss. My wife was due to come on my birthday, June 17, and, kissing her, I will pass the paper.
Now, the task was to make the text very compact, just one sheet of close type, or two sheets with bigger interval so it would fit on cigarette paper. My task – to learn to keep the ball in my mouth, Ivan’s task –to write in the smallest script (he was very pedantic). Levko had to prepare a good text for our consideration.
We got to business. I made an experimental ball and kept in my mouth like a tooth that has fallen out.
V.O.: What did you make the ball from?
M.H.: I made it of bread. You know how glue is made of bread? You munch it and then you pass it together with saliva through a cloth. Magnificent glue! I used to bind my books with it, and later I made several volumes of Stus’s works the same way. I started training. You know, a human body has infinite possibilities! For two weeks I could not put my tongue further than it would go. It would stop and not move any further. In a month I could already put my tongue that far – it was something unique! Maybe, it’s not even known to science, but I learned it experimental way.
Levko wrote a good petition. Ivan coped with the the script. We found half a razor blade to sharpen the pencil. Ink is no good, it won’t last. So a pencil thin as a needle was needed. Ivan made a great job of it. We packed the paper into a square – two and a half cm each side…We took a piece of cellophane, welded it together with the match and then cover with silver foil. It turned into a small piece, not larger than a fingernail. Now how shall I preserve it? We decided I will seat with by back to the wall and hold it in my hand. One of us will keep watch and if a guard looks into the peep-hole for too long, he will knock lightly. Then I change my position and put the ball into my mouth. I could not keep it there all the time lest it got totally wet.
And so it lasted till June 17. It happened to be our bath day. I asked guys: “Shall I take the ball with me?” – “Oh, don’t. They will not take you from the bath-house”. But that was exactly what happened. It was very good I have taken the ball with me. When we were saying our goodbyes we exchanged the winners’ look, meaning it was OK.
I was taken to visit room. My father, Olya and Oksanka came to see me. Oksanka was three at the time and she brought me a chocolate bar. She was trying to push it to me across the table. But the guard forbade it, didn’t allow me to have it. Imagine, Vasyl, a mere three-year kid breaks piece after piece, each no bigger than a centimeter, and gives it to me. Now the guard didn’t interfere, but by that time I no longer wanted it. My thoughts are on the ball. If I kiss Olya when she enters, she won’t be able to talk. She did not have my training. For me it was not a problem. So I shall pass it to her during our farewell kiss. For the whole time of the visit I was stamping my feet on the floor to be able to jump and kiss Olya swift as a lightning.
And it worked! My wife noticed my conspiratorial look, so she knew something was up, but she did not know what. I almost jumped over the table and kissed her and passed the ball – mouth to mouth! We said our goodbyes and left. Right after that I heard my father screaming in the corridor (I mentioned earlier my father was a fearless and unique person and I am sorry they precipitated his death): “Tatars! Tatars! Let the kid go! You Tatars!”. He kept screaming like that for a minute, or, may be, a minute and a half, so finally they let go. (Father, M.Horyn’, died in 1988, at 87 years – V.O.) She took the ball out. And our petition saw the light of day.
V.O.: It was your birthday of what year?
M.H.: Let me see…It was June 17, 1968, so Oksanka was four already.
V.O.: And I heard your petition on “Svoboda” broadcast. Since then I remember the names of Lukyanenko and Kandyba.
M.H.: You see, how interesting! But some time later Olya repeated Nina’s mistake. She went to Moscow and stayed with “important people”. Probably with Nina Lisovska. She had a candidate degree in mathematics, a very serious woman. Well, I don’t remember for sure, but she managed to deliver the text. In a month or two I was summoned to the KGB captain M. Obrubov. He studied together with Lukyanenko in the Moscow University. I believe they both received the award as outstanding students. Anyway, he was a good student. Obrubov said quite seriously: “Listen, I have to tell you the following: if you tell me how you managed to get the petition out, you will be let out of prison”. I insisted I did not. “How come you did not? Your name is on it” – “Well, it is just a name”. – “So you did not write it? Maybe someone just used your name.” – “Yes, I did write it, but I passed it to no one. – “Who specifically wrote it, you, Lukyanenko, or Kandyba?” - “I do not know about them, but I wrote it.” That was our agreement- to agree to the authorship, but not to sending it out, because otherwise we would condemn the messenger. .
So when Olya came next time to visit in 1969 the table was divided in two by large plastic partition about 80 or 90 cm high. And we used the phone to talk. So they reconstructed the whole thing in details.
By the way, when I came to Kiev after my release, the first I.Dzyuba’s question was: “Tell me, how you sent it out?” But the year was 1971, and it was dangerous to talk. So I told him while we were taking a stroll. A funny thing occurred during my stay in that Volodymyr…
Let me tell you that Volodymyr prison had a special meaning for me. Today I tried to find my notebook, in which I have compiled a list of books I had ordered in the prison library. Volodymyr prison library was a very unusual thing – when I looked through my list (and the notebook is thick, about 500 pages), I understood that I ended up in a solid university of humanities. All the philosophers – Hegel, Kant, Fichte, Schiller– were available. I am mentioning just German literature, let alone other countries. European fiction was represented thoroughly. 29 volumes by Solovyov, Klyuchevsky – entire history. I have notes from all these volumes. Three volumes by Tatishchev…I thought I would make a plan and work on it. And that is what I did. I’ve went through all Solovyov’s works. I am very sorry to have missed a project my colleagues had been working on in 1989 – 1990 concerning Ukrainian-Russian relations. But I was busy with logistics. They quoted Solovyov, but I had more materials on how the Russian tsars planned to enslave and russify Ukrainian people. But I had no time for that. So, to put it in a nutshell, my time in Volodymyr central was very fruitful.
V.O.: But how did they come up with the library?
M.H.: Бthe librarian – an elderly woman whose name I do not remember – answered my question about the editions published prior to 1917: “At the time when estates of the nobility were plundered their books were given to the prison. The rumor has it that Fanny Kaplan had worked there as a librarian for the whole term, and added her books to the library.
V.O.: So, the gentry were imprisoned in prison and their books too.
M.H.: Yes, the books too. Indeed the West-European fiction, history and philosophy were represented very thoroughly. I had a broad field of operation. By the end of my term I was not yet done with my plan. God, I thought, I wished they kept me for another 3 or four months. It was a wonderful prison university. How so? We refused to work. The only man who worked was S.Karavansky, but he did it sporadically, too. He said it was easier for him. But we never did. They reduced our rations from 2400 kilo-calories to 1950 – and 450 kilo-calories is a substantial supplement. But we accepted the privation to have more time for reading.
So that is what I wanted to tell about Volodymyr prison.
V.O.: А Didn’t they take away your notes?
M.H.: They took them for check after each search but always returned them.
V.O.: And did you manage to bring them home?
M.H.: Not all of them because at the moment of my release from Mordovian camp I was sick and did not take everything. Later administration sent me my magazines and books, but no notes.
V.O.: Was the rule that a convict was allowed 50 kg of staff only in force then?
M.H.: Yes. I left all my books – I’ll show you the list – in the library, for those who would come after me.
V.O.: How could one get books while in prison?
M.H.: Via “Book by mail”.
V.O.: But no one could send you books, right?
V.O.: And when was the subscription to foreign periodic banned?
M.H.: I did not have to subscribe, because somebody sent them to us.
V.O.: But later you could not subscribe them anyway.
M.H.: That is right. The reprisals started after our petition to the UN was made public. The list of permitted literature was cut down immediately and restricted only to soviet publications. Number of foreign newspapers was reduced too. It was around 1969. By the end of our stay in Volodymyr we could no longer enjoy the luxuries we had at the beginning.
All right, enough with that jail stuff, although I’d like to draw your attention to the visits of soviet high officials. The goal of their visits was to re-convince us and to make us confess. Noteworthy, not a single Ukrainian political prisoner was converted. Later, when we served second term, several people repented – Oles’ Berdnyk, V.Romanyuk who later became Patriarch Volodymyr. But it was after imprisonment.
V.O.: He was blackmailed with his son Taras’ imprisonment.
M.H.: That is all about Volodymyr. Now I will tell you how I returned to Mordovia in 1970.
V.O.: Do you remember the date of Zubovo-Polyansky trial? In July of 1967...
M.H.: No, I don’t. But I was taken out of Volodymyr somewhat earlier, because transportation time was counted as prison – day for three. So I arrived in Mordovia camp earlier, in June maybe.
V.O.: It was Ozerne settlement, Umor in Mordovian. I was there in the late 1975 and in 1976. When my father came for a visit he was amazed with these scary names: Mordovia, Pot’ma, Yavas, Umor…
LESYA UKRAINKA CENTENNIAL IN THE CONCENTRATION CAMP
M.H.: When I returned from the jail to the camp 17 in summer 1970 we decided to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Lesya Ukrainka. Bohdan sent me her works. I organized a theoretical conference for 10 days.
V.O.: But Lesya Ukrainka was born in February of 1870, wasn’t she?
M.H.: Right. And we organized a conference when I came back. It does not matter. I have chosen a unique topic:”Philosophy of defeat in Lesya Ukrainka’s works”. Maybe, I still have bits and pieces of it. M.Soroka prepared a key note – “Life and work of Lesya Ukrainka”. He did it splendidly.
For ten evenings we used to convene in the canteen to make our presentations. The KGB men were very tactful about it. A Lett poet Skuinek participated. He is still alive, I met him. Representatives of all nationalities took part, in the celebration; they translated Lesya Ukrainka’s poems. It was a glorious scientific conference! But no documents have remained – they were ll taken away but the KGB men. I dreamt of compiling a volume on these 10 nights of Lesya Ukrainka celebration in the Mordovian camp, but nothing remained…
M.Soroka was in the camp 17 too. He was an architect and made beautiful drawings. He used to send the drawings of different birds to my little Oksana. They corresponded with Oksana. M.Soroka is a wise and learned man. I used to think: My God, if M.Soroka had headed our resistance movement… Structure of any movement depends on the spiritual state of mind of the leader. When we came to the camp (you,Vasyl, came later and did not see it), we met an entire pleiade of political prisoners – UPA and underground members.
V.O.: I met some of them: D.Synyak, M.Konchakivsky, I.Myron, M.Zhurakivsky, R.Semenuyk, V.Dolishny…They were the best people I ever met in my life.
M.H.: But it was not like five hundred or a thousand. No doubt, the horizons of any movement depend on the intellectual horizons of its leader. Relations among people, dignity and nobility of heart can be either cultivated or thrown away. I was taken in with that man and wrote memoirs about him. This year M.Soroka’s birthday was celebrated. I attended it.
We took walks and he told me about his tribulations and adventures. He was a community-minded person. Some people in the camp, you know, had nothing to do after work but to play chess. They are difficult cell-mates. We, on the other hand, after coming from work, rushed to our books and notes. If one’s brain is not busy it can lead to a lot of misunderstandings. It was usual thing – a brawl here, a quarrel there…Myhaylo was an arbiter when such things happened. Not just an arbiter, but an architect of human relations.
We were not allowed to grow anything in the camp, but for the flowers. But Mykhaylo managed to plant salad and parsley between flowers. So sometimes he would pick the greens between flowers (and he was interested in flowers’ growing) rinse them – and here is the whole bowl of salad. With oil, naturally. The he invited the entire Ukrainian community to the 17th, no more than 50 people. We sat at the table, ate and talked. It was a form of getting closer to each other.
When I told rebels about our movement they answered: “So what can you do with word? We failed with machine-guns, and you want to succeed with word? Nonsense, to arms, to arms!” this discussion led us nowhere. We could not prove the absurdity of their stand, they would not understand it.
M.Soroka understood it very well. I said: OK, you have 6 years to go, while I had 5 after my arrival in the camp 11, because the inquest lasted for a year.років. But he served his term since 1935 – with small beaks for a month or a month and a half!
Every evening we strolled behind the barrack and talked. We looked over the whole period of the Ukrainian liberation fight. I have one of his notebooks reflecting his interests.
His presentation on Lesya Ukrainka was superb. Here is the beginning of her biography. You see, 30 years passed and I still remember it:”She was born at the time when the student Grinevitsky had thrown a bomb at Tsar Alexander”. A dry biography was turned into meditations on Lesya Ukrainka. He was very talented and gifted. Here is Mykhaylo’s diary. Look at the names: Kuprin, Maksym Rylsky. You see what interested him…Because the young partisans’ attitude was quite different: “Why should I read Rylsky, the damn communist?” Then Shevchenko, “The big basement”. Note his beautiful handwriting: “Shevchenko’s “Three lirnyks”,”Great anniversary”, “The great hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky”, V.Sosyura’ “Love Ukraine!” “Experts from the history of Russes”. Kipling’s “If”. Here is Pavlovsk, Metlynsky, Chernyshevsky…These were intellectual horizons of this man.
I am not referring to all that idly. Maybe, you are not much interested, but my point is that M.Soroka was not a narrow-minded, limited person. You see: Kipling, Chernyshevsky – according to him all these books were aimed at the consolidation of the Ukrainian national idea. M.Soroka was like that.
V.O.: And you managed to bring it from the camp?
M.H.: Yes, and I have another notebook of his.
V.O.: I believe, the notebook did not have this title when you had taken it out?
M.H.: I added the title later. The KGB men stole one notebook from me. M.Soroka sympathized deeply with the prisoners. He invented something all the time to divert them. When I came to the camp and started telling him about the relations’ psychology, he was fascinated. I was delivering lectures of sorts on relations’ psychology. He said: “You know what, that relations’ psychology deserves a special brochure. I cannot look at our inmates quarreling or even fighting among themselves”.
I gave him books on physiology and psychology. It was enough for some theoretical background. He did not study physiology before that and had only most basic knowledge. Later he wrote an outstanding brochure on this issue. I.Kandyba had one of the copies as far as I remember. He described conflicts between the inmates from the point of view of physiology. He was a good story teller. The beginning ran more or less like this:
“I imagine a young boy washing himself, naked to the waist. His cell-mate, a political prisoner is standing nearby. The young boy, agitated by the water in warm summer, splashes some water on his comrade. The comrade gets mad. Why did he fail to appreciate a joke? Why is he so tense psychologically that he is ready to jump at the assaulter? It is a complex: a man is afraid to be taken for a weakling who can be treated like one.” And then he proceeded to explain his vision of the relations’ psychology,
So he was a man of many gifts. He made drawings, he was well-versed in architecture, literature, history – the circle of his interests was very broad.
M.Soroka had told me, that he had the infarction and still had not recovered. His eyes were like two wounds with red veins. It was obvious the man was sick and tired. His body was like an inflated ball. To boast of his prowess he used to say: “Behold, Mykhaylo!” and then land on his hands and walk on them, topsy-turvy. He was sixty at the time.
After work the KGB men sometimes conducted political lectures. No one of us ever attended, Mykhaylo including. But once he went there. I asked him why. – “I wanted to take a look. “ Then I saw him hurrying out of the building, taking two steps at once. Probably, he had a heart attack.
After supper we used to take a stroll. We did it every evening. For several months we had these wonderful strolls and talks, it was real unity of souls. But he never developed such intimacy with V.Moroz.
Sometimes a conflict arose between some Ukrainians and Russians. I suggested M.Soroka would act as mediator. L.Borodin argued: “What is he, that Mykhaylo?” After M.Soroka managed to mitigate that conflict, he had understood.
So on June 16, 1970, after supper we took our usual walk behind the barrack. There was a path between the barrack and forbidden zone. This was our usual itinerary. It had a small descent. Mykhaylo asked me to go first. “Why? What is wrong?” – “You know I have some trouble descending”. He had been so sick even a small descent was difficult for him.
V.K.: As if he had wooden legs.
M.H.: He walked like this…it was hard for him to go downwards. But we already have adjusted our walks so well because we had walked this path dozens or even hundred times. I walked slowly and knew where he had to catch up with me, on the flat road. I approached the place, but he was not around. I turned around –“What is it, Mykhaylo?” But he just groaned. I helped him to lie down and ran to fetch the doctor.
We had a certain Havrylov among the inmates. He had beent the captain of a submarine, who had written a book about Czech events, criticizing soviet power. He was sentenced to maximum term – 12 years, 7+5. No one got such long terms then. I fetched another prisoner, whose name I don’t remember – he was an orderly in medical unit and asked him to come and take a look at Mykhaylo. He was reluctant to come because he had had some conflict with Mykhaylo. I grabbed a broom…He knew nothing about medicine, but advised to do the artificial respiration. Havrilov sat on his knees and started doing it. He waived Mykhayko’s arms 5-6 times, but a tear ran down his face – and Mykhaylo died. So it was our doing…
But you know, I believe that people foresee their own end. There was a man by name of Vasyl Pirus, a raion Secret Service leader. He was a very strong man, but a bit rough. The same day, when we were walking with Mykhaylo we saw that a small kitten was hanging from the barbed wire separating the forbidden zone. It injured itself and was bleeding. It was small, no bigger that a palm of the hand. Mykhaylo cried: “Look, blood, blood!” And Pirus retorted quite calmly:” So what? Haven’t you seen blood before? Big deal!” Then I sensed something was wrong with Mykhaylo, because he used to be a composed man. Turned out it was his last day.
When we brought him to the medical ward Hryts’ Pryshlyak took Shevchenko’s works and started reading it instead of Book of Psalms, as we had no Book of Psalms.
So we saw him off…Next day a coffin was brought and we put him in it. We did not report to work and no one punished us. A lot of inmates did go to work, but not his closest friends including Pirus. And that was the end of the affair.
But prior to that, on our way to work in the morning I saw Mykhaylo carrying something hiding it behind his back (my birthday was next day). I wondered what he was carrying. Probably, a gift for me. It was Verhaeren. After his death I read the dedication in the book. It also had his small picture, a very clear and nice photo. I do not remember the first verse, but then it was from Verhaeren’s poem “You fall and rise and let your steps be heard”. I remembered it.
Vasyl’, I do not even have a proper description for it – it was a brotherly love, responsibility for each other, need for contact, that an elderly man that I am, approaching 70, I have never experienced anything similar to such affinity of the souls! M.Soroka was a unique man.
V.O.: Я I know the place where he had died. I was there after you in the late 1975 – early 1976.
M.H.: So, you see.
V.O.: Then Vasyl’ Stus and Roman Semeyuk were brought there. A wild rose bush and some flowers around it were there. We used to flower them. Once we returned fromwork and see the bush. And flowers were all destroyed. Someone told us it was Captain Zinenko’s doing. He was the commandant of that area and ordered Islamov and Kononenko to destroy it.
M.H.: –Were Islamov and Kononenko guards?
V.O.: No, the jail-birds. Bastards. They tore everything to pieces. Someone related to us the commandant’s words:”The Ukrainians arranged a shrine there” But later I saw that one seedling sprouted out. On July 9, 1976 I was taken away, and by the end of the summer all the political prisoners were taken to different zones.
(The end of interview on December 7, 1999.)
M.H.: We continued on St. Nicholas day, December 19, 1999.
So, M.Soroka died two months before my release from zone. My friends were ready to celebrate my birthday on June, 17. But M.Soroka died on June, 16 and so we had a memorial gathering dedicated t our dear and close friend.
Two months later, on August 26, 1971, I was released. On my way I saw my friends Kievites, I.Svitlychny, Ye.Sverstyuk, I.Dzyuba, M.Kotsyubynska. They asked me to visit them first before continuing my way home. But I explained that I had missed my mother’s birthday, and, therefore, wanted to see her as soon as possible. We had mother’s cult in our home and we still do. So I went to my mother despite my friends’ invitations. (Mother Stephania died in 2003.– V.О.)
In Lviv I met my friends. First of all, with V.Chornovil, now deceased, who had told me during the very first meeting that he was publishing half-legal magazine “Ukrainsky visnyk”, that he had published 5 issues already. He asked me whether I was willing to participate. I said “Sure, it goes without saying”, but in several months he was arrested.
I did not expect that I would return to my prior job. I was told that I would not work in my specialty. They had a vacancy for psychology professor in the university. I submitted the papers, but was rejected.
Then there was a Technological institute that designed various autoloaders. An outstanding man O.Holyanytsky had worked there. He was born in Yaroslavl, in Poland. After Brusilov’s breach all the Moscow-lovers or pro-Russian population followed the army, because Hungarians treated such people very cruelly. He came first to Ukraine and then to Urals. There he graduated from a higher educational establishment and together with Malenkov he headed a forging plant but then, in 1949, if I am not mistaken, he came back to Ukraine and became chief engineer of the autoloaders plant. Eventually he became its director. It was the only big plant manufacturing autoloaders not only for Ukraine – it was needed for the military industry, because the autoloaders were used for the missiles etc.
When I returned from the camp I didn’t want to visit Holyanytsky, not to throw a shade on him. When I still worked at the psychological laboratory, all the samizdat books used to pass through his hands. I still wonder why, but I always treated Holyanytsky as similarly-minded person, although he was a member of the oblast’ party committee and a very respectable person. He used to say: “Mr.Horyn’, there might be ten engineers in line waiting to see me, but never mind – open the door and come in first”. I used to give him samizdat books and he in exchange gave me books about Ukrainian history published in Poland.
I’ve been at home for two weeks already and did not know how to find work. I was rejected by the Polytechnic institute and by the University. I was jobless. And suddenly Holyanytsky sent a messenger to ask me why I would not come and see him. By that time he was already director of the technological institute.
I came to see him. I said “Mr. Holyanytsky, I did not want coming to you.” – “How so? I have a plan of organizing a laboratory of psychology under the auspices of the institute. Could you draft a project for the research, a number of employees, amount of money needed for the proper operation for the laboratory? All the devices you had at the laboratory of the autoloaders works, must be available her too.” I said: “Dear Oleksandr Oleksandrovych, no one will hire me!” But he retorted half-jokingly: “But I am a member of the oblast’ party committee”.
I’ve been designing the project for a whole week, I prepared a cost estimate, a list of topics to be addressed, the time-frames and needed funding. Then I came to see him again, but they would not let me enter. Am I a petitioner “I said “or am I invited by the director?” But the head of personnel is unmovable and not interested in director’s projects at all. I said:”Here is my application for work”. – “I am not accepting it” – he answered. _ “So who rules here – head of personnel department or director?” I understood further discussion was futile. I went to see director and said: “Oleksandr Oleksandrovych, you know, head of personnel department won’t take my application”. But he answered: ‘I am sorry…Sorry but it will not work out.” That is what he was told in the oblast’ party committee”.
GRIM RIPPING OF 1972
And this was the end of my efforts to find work in my specialty. I wonder if I was the first to have invented a new job for the Ukrainian political prisoners. It was the job of the stoker. I kept looking for a job that would allow me to do my own work. If you work as a digger, you will have no time for yourself. Stoker was better as it allowed me to stick to the mode of life I stuck to in Volodymyr prison – reading books all day.
I have taken the stokers’ course in 1972 and worked as a stoker till 1977, i.e. for 5 years.
Meanwhile, the events developed pretty rapidly. In November I went to Kiev to have talks with our community. I spent 5 days there. On November 7 we had a celebration at Nadia Svitlychna place. We baptized her “Oktyabryna” [ from “Orktyabr’” – October in Ukrainian].
V.O.: So, Oktyabryny.
M.H.: We celebrated her birthday. We talked. I have a photo of this celebration. It was done in a forest near Kiev. We went there to be able to talk. Who was present? Late V.Stus, I.Svitlychny, I.Dzyuba and another man – doctor of chemistry, whose name I don’t remember.
M.H.: Right, Heinrich Dvorko. We had a talk there on where we had to go and what to do.
V.O.: Was Shumuk there?
M.H.: Yes, Danylo Shumuk was present. They were all surprised to see me back after 6 years of concentration camp and as full of vigor as ever without any traces of prison life.
It did not last long. I did not manage to see a single issue of “Ukrainsky visnyk”. I started writing my memoirs about time I spent in prison to publish them in “Ukrainsky visnyk”. Sudenly the searches began and that put an end to all that. Soon, in January 1972 the arrests began.
But, you know, unification of East and West, initiated by us in 1962, continued. In 1972 V.Stus came to Lviv for Christmas. I knew him already, we met in Kiev. He came to my home and said: “I m going to a spa in Morshyn. Do you know somebody there with whom I might spend Christmas Eve? I never saw a Christmas Eve celebration. Our people have forgotten everything.” – “I have a close friend”, I answered. She used to be a scout for UPA, a unique person, she was sent by Shukhevych to Warsaw to work as a waitress and to listen to the officers’ talks there and to pick up what actions against partisans were planned. In fact, as a waitress she collected most interesting information in Warsaw and transmitted it by radio to our partisans who were staying in Zakerzonnya. But when Shukhevych was sending her to Warsaw he gave her a warning: “Daughter, if you have flue and run high fever, you should remain in control and not speak Ukrainian.” I was amazed with such farsightedness of this great military commandant, who turned out to be a gifted psychologist as well.
Everything went smoothly for the scout, right to the moment when she fell ill and developed fever. Once she uttered “Mom!” Her Polish landlady immediately reported her to police. She was arrested and sent to the soviet camps. In the camp in Inta she met my wife Olya. She was called Olya too.
V.K: What is her name?
M.H.: Her last name is Moroz, and the name of war “Malusha”. This Olya beacam a god-mother for my Oksana. When the issue of Christmas Eve arose, I sent Stus to Olya. Stus was fascinated with our folk traditions. He returned to Lviv on January 9, when we celebrated St. Mary’s day at Maria Hel’s. Actually entire opposition intelligentsia gathered there. When I was seeing Stus off – he spent the night at Iryna Kalynets’ place – Iryna said “You know, Mykhaylo, I have a feeling I am being followed” It was three days prior to the arrest. I said: “If that is true, Iryna, then they will arrest you pretty soon”. And she said she was followed at every step. It meant she would be arrested in a week or two. They usually do it right before arrest.
Stus spent the night there and left Lviv on January 11. On January 12 he was arrested in Kiev. Our protests were of no consequences. The black night of Brezhnev’s reprisals fell upon us. People related to those arrested were summoned to KGB for questioning. My brother Bohdan and I were summoned too, for the hearing in Kiev. I mean we were given a subpoena to make our appearance as witnesses.
Before that we were interrogated in Lviv KGB. They asked me about Svitlychny, Dzyuba and Sverstyuk, I believe. Well, for a person with my background it was just a trifle. We avoided any faux pas. Dzyuba’s investigator Kolchyk said: “Mr. Horyn’, I treated you as witness, but the colonel so-and-so will treat you as a suspect”. He wanted to intimidate me.
He was also I.Svitlychny’s investigator. It turned out that I.Svitlychny was a most gifted archive keeper: whatever we sent him from prison was accurately packed in folders, signed and added to his huge library. When KGB men searched his apartment they took everything away, including my petitions from the camp. My handwritten papers lay on his desk. There was one petition written secretly between newspaper lines. How did they find it? Later it turned out they have uncovered our method. The colonel was threatening me and I understood that after mere three or four months at home I will have to go back to jail.
My brother Bohdan and I went through these interrogations with dignity. We were present at the trial and we saw the prosecution witnesses: M.Kholodny and Z.Franko – I mean from our friends’ circle. There were also people from outside.
V.K: What motivated people who testified against the defendants at the trial and at the preliminary inquest?
M.H.: The answer is very simple. They were afraid for their future: if you resist you can end up in the same mill which will crush you. The motivation was not complicated – fear only.
URKAINIAN HELSINKI GROUP
After the trials I tried to do something useful, while working a s a stoker. I kept in touch with the families of the arrested. I have become their defens attorney of sorts: Atena Pahko, Chornovil’s wife, would seek my advice on a petition; Leonida Svitlychna needs something, including the bath faucet repair – I go to Kiev to fix it.
We kept in touch but I did not join any resistance movement yet. It was, so to speak, a stagnation period after a terrible blow dealt to the Ukrainian national democracy in 1972.
Around May 1976 a group of Moscovites came to Lviv: academician Yu.Orlov, Solzhenitsyn’s assistant A.Ginsburg and a Ukrainian scientist, doctor of mathematics V.Turchyn. they stayed with us and told us about the formation of the Helsinki Group. It was already set up in Moscow and led by an academician of the Armenian Academy of Sciences Yu.Orlov, specialist in theoretical physics. They suggested we joined the group. I said: “In general I support this movement, but I am against us, the Ukrainian resistance community, joining the Moscow movement. We want to setup our own Helsinki Group”.
I remember an interesting detail from that time. A.Ginsburg was staying with me, and Turchyn, I guess, with my brother. Orlov was staying at someone else’s place, I don’t know where. We agreed to meet the next day on Vysoky Zamok [High Castle –Ukr.]. I wanted to show Lviv to them. Those who know Lviv remember that Vysoky Zamok is the highest point in Lviv and the best place to see the panorama of the whole city and its famous roof-tops so highly praised by all the visitors to Lviv.
At two o’clock I was passing along Lviv streets. A car approached, I was put into it, brought to the office of the KGB boss Poluden’ and held there. I said: “Sorry, but I am leaving”. No one talks to me, I am just kept there. “How can you leave without a pass? We haven’t written it out for you”. It means I won’t be let out at the check point of the building. I said: “Anyway, I’ll go”. I saw it was ten to two and I had a meeting. And he is smiling quite aware of why I have to go. They have bugged my home and knew that Orlov was waiting for me at Vysoky Zamok,and I was running late. I managed to get out without a pass. I took a cab and hurried to Vysoky Zamok. I met Orlov and asked:”How long have you been waiting? I was detained by KGB.” And he reacted oddly – he said quite calmly :” Yes, I figured it out”.
So it was our talk about the possibility of creating Kiev Helsinki Group. I don’t remember whom I discussed it with, but that person supported the idea. But we took no further steps. I had my own vision and I will share it with you.
In 1976 I still worked as a stoker. In late October (or was it early November?) M.Rudenko brought me a draft of the fundamental document "Memorandum № 1" – about the setting up of the Ukrainian Non-Governmental Group on fulfillment of Helsinki agreements. We sat in Sadovskys’ apartment where I used to meet with friends, at Hanya Sadovsky, who belonged to old Ukrainian intelligentsia. I introduced some amendments to the document. In other words, I contributed to the editing of the Memorandum of the Zaporizhzhya.
When we discussed my role in the Group with Mr. Rudenko, I said: “Look, if they imprison you in half a year, who will keep the work going? I believe Ukrainian liberation movement should be permanent, supplying jails with new inmates all the time. It’s like it was in the past when our boys were going to Zaporizhzhya. The jail is now that Zaporizhzhya for us (I think I coined this phrase first when I was still in jail). It means, my turn will be next”. I did not give my consent, but I provided M.Rudenko with late O.Tykhy’s phone number in Druzhkivka, and with the address of I.Kandyba and of someone else.
Sometimes one makes a prophecy subconsciously: if we count time from November till the day of arrest…
V.O.: Rudenko and Tykhy were arrested on February 5, 1977.
M.H.: You see, even earlier, in three months! Then the leading role passed to Oksana Meshko. During that time three issues of Ukrainian Helsinki Group were published. Oksana Meshko came to me and said:” Well, Mykhaylyk, your turn now”. I said: “All right, Oksana Yakivna”. And we started working on the fourth issue.
The main burden of this work was carried by my family. My wife Olga and I were printing materials in the basements, then sent them to Kiev, and from Kiev they were sent to Moscow. Thus we publishes issues four, five, six and seven. I have only number four. (I think I showed it at the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. Ms. Hanna Zarytska helped us and Bohdana, too. It was in their basement in the Stare Silo near Lviv that we printed the Bulletins.
This half-legal job went on between the years 1977 and 1981. In 1981 I worked under immense pressure. Why? Because M.Kotsyubynska let me know that a capital crash happened in Moscow. By that time I worked already at the laboratory of economics of “Kinescope” company as leading psychologist and I learned from a colleague that M.N. returned to the underground activities. He did not want to collaborate with KGB. When he was summoned to KGB he used to tell me all about it afterwards. I understood there had been a bust somewhere.
A whole series of searches followed. Within four months between August and December my apartment was searched five times. I barely had time to put my books together when new search was conducted. Lviv newspaper “Vil’na Ukraina” published an article “Choose your way” on the eve of the first search. On the first page I was accused of all the mortal sins: I was a CIA agent, I was a turn-coat and a bourgeois nationalist. All the usual set of derogatory definitions used by KGB in its fight against Ukrainian liberation movement. I understood the end was close. It was not my idea, but that of Karavansky’s wife N.Strokata: to carry a bag with a towel, a toothbrush, soap and other bare necessities at all times. I did not stick to that rule always, but, at least, I made an effort.
But once, when my bag was full of materials for the new issue of the Helsinki Group Bulletin, I was stopped by the KGB officials. “Mykhaylo Mykolayovych, you are invited by Mykola Petrovych”. They always addressed me in this respectful way, by name and patronymic, like old good friends, right in the middle of the street. I tried to bargain: “Guys, I do not want to go with you. I am going to the library, I am busy. You should have sent me the invitation by mail.” – “But we have an order to bring you with us”. – “So will you twist my arms?” They needed to detain me, to intimidate me. But luckily they did not frisk me.
Meetings with the KGB officials always came as surprise. They were calculated so as to scare a person and keep him or her under the stress. They did not understand that my wife and I have eliminated the stress once and for good. When we started our underground work I said: “Olya, we both know pretty well that earlier or later I will be imprisoned. If it happens I will not be back for the next 15 years. I will not survive it, what with my disease and general health condition”.
So their searches were aimed not at actual finding something, but at exerting psychological pressure. Obviously, if they didn’t find anything during the search, they won’t find anything two later. But, finally, at the fourth search, they found a letter from A.Ginsburg, still sealed. It was about sending some materials to Moscow – I failed to deliver them earlier. Alik and other Moscovites had no idea about conspiracy, it was their weakest point. The KGB men got hold of the letter, and placed it stealthily in my apartment. I have not even seen it before.
A day before a search a caretaker came to tell me that the house manager had ordered to put apartment numbers on the basement doors. I said: “Olya, it is another of KGB’s tricks. They will place something there”. It would be good to keep watch at night, but the nights were cold already by the end of November. So Olya said :”Let us go there in the morning to check if they have brought anything”.
We got up in the morning. Our apartment was small, and we had to put it in order. We ate and worked at the same table. So we lingered. I said: “You know what? Let us do the room first, I’ll start my work and then we’ll see about the basement”. I barely finished the sentence, when the door opened and six militia officers came in and told us that some robbed things have been left in the basement – crystals, gold and fur coats. I asked: “But did I participate in the robbery?” – “No, you did not, but they were stored in your basement”. – “But did I give the keys to the robbers?” – “No, they just opened the door”.
So, I went to the basement. It was as big as our flat. It was as big as our apartment. I had a joiner’s bench there, the tools, shelves with clippings from the newspapers and magazines. In short, it was a perfect work place, considering small size of our apartment.
I saw a cellophane bag in the middle of the basement, with something inside. We took it from the floor and looked inside –an article “Social studies of the mechanism of russification in Ukraine”. the militia captain, whose name I do not remember, asked me : “Have you written this? Are you the author?” _ “No, I am not.” – “But it has some corrections”. The corrections in my handwriting were there indeed – “k” and “a” just the way I write them, but the text was not my. “I said: “Look, this article is illiterate. I could not have written such an illiterate text. For anyone versed in philosophy and sociology it is obvious there are no “social studies” – the studies can be sociological, while “social” relates to phenomena. A person who wrote this is absolutely illiterate. It was one of yours and then it was placed here on purpose.”
It was the last search prior to my arrest. These “Social studies” became main piece of evidence, on the basis of which I had been sentenced to 15 years.
But I wanted to draw your attention to a small detail having to do something with the years that followed. When the search was being conducted my Taras was enthralled with it. He was at the peak of happiness. He was eight then. He was running from one group of men to another. Then he asked colonel Klymenko: “Why did you place bugs in our apartment?” Despite Taras’s young age the colonel took him seriously: “But where are they, Tarasyk?” – “Right here”. It was our neighbor who let us know that her wall had been drilled through; the bug was placed in her kitchen with the wires leading to our apartment. My wife found the spot and damaged it with knitting needles. When in 1990 or 1991 we were searching the buildings of the oblast’ party committees and other offices we found a document incriminating the officer who had placed a bug at the Horyn’s apartment so negligently. So, it is on the margins of our story.
As soon as I was arrested on December 3, 1981, I went on hunger strike. I do not remember on what day – either eighth or tenth – I had a heart attack. Turned out it was an infarction. After just a week of treatment I had to come back for the investigation. I came for interrogation with my arms down. I could walk straight. It lasted for a year and it was a year of tortures. All the time I was thinking about going to the better world.
I was very lucky with my second investigation. The scenario was very simple: an investigator came – not from KGB, but from the oblast’ prosecutor’s office controlling KGB operation. And it was this deputy oblast’ prosecutor, a Galician from Mykolaiv raion, by name of Dorosh – that I had endless talks with. I put the questions that always perplexed him. I could tell him: “Vasyl [his first name], the time will come when you will be tried by us for your actions”. Once he had enough and retorted: “Before you come to judge me you will have rotten to death in a concentration camp”. – “Now I see you are a true KGB man”.
Some time passed, I was in jail already, but Dorosh somehow felt bad about it. I tried a certain psychological trick on him. I told him: “Right, Vasyl, I will be rotting in the camp, but I will come to visit you. You raise a glass of brandy – and here I am. You kiss your lover – and here I am. I won’t let you alone till you last day”. He was really scared. Iryna Kalynets had related later that when I was in jail already, but she still wasn’t, Dorosh once met her in the city center and said: “Why is that Horyn’ cursing me so terribly? I did him no wrong”.
The investigation lasted about 10 months.
V.K.: Were witnesses called on for your trial?
M.H.: Yes, there were witnesses. You are aware, as well as Vasyl’ here, that people who had done their time in the concentration camps, have acquired a unique experience of the clandestine work. If they did something it was very difficult to catch them at it. At the beginning one assumed that KGB knew everything. Then it turned out that in fact they knew much less. In fact, they did not bring any serious witnesses. They managed to find several people. But what kind of witnesses were they? I went to Truskavets to cure my kidneys – it was in February, 8 or 9 months before my arrest. A man, who introduced himself as a commerce college teacher Zhukharev. (Later it turned out they had never had such a teacher in the college) was placed in the same room. I almost did not talk to him, being busy and working in the library. But during the trial he testified that I subjected him anti-Soviet propaganda, that I called the Afghan war soviet aggression and stuff like that. There were more witnesses like him. Actually the whole trial was poorly staged. They failed to provide a convincing body of witnesses, like the first time. I think they had but three witnesses.
V.O.: Is it right that I.Kandyba’s case was somehow involved too?
M.H.: They wanted me to incriminate Kandyba, but I refused to speak against him. For that I got an additional accusation. I was convicted under two articles. I don’t remember their numbers. The accusations held no water.
V.O.: So, you received three months of correction works, right?
M.H.: Yes, something like that. But I was sentenced to 10 years of special regime, 5 years of exile and qualified as an extremely dangerous repeated offender. I laughed speaking at the hearing. I told them: "Listen, these “Social studies” are illiterate, and I did not write them. You haven’t found a single paper at my place – so why are giving me 15 years? Show the world at least minimum objectivity – give me 13, or 12, or 14 years, but not 15. You operate like robots – second conviction automatically means 15 years. Are you giving me 15 years just for my first conviction?”
CAMP ВС-389/36 OF SPECIAL REGIME
They flew me to Perm’. At night they brought me to Kuchyno Chusovo raion by car. It was, if I am not mistaken, November1982, so the ground was covered with snow already. They took me to isolation cell. I entered, put my bag on the bench and thought: I arrived, finally”. I took a seat and heard avoice: “Who is there, for God’s sake?” I recognized Stus’s voice and answered: “Vasyl’, it’s me Mykhaylo”. – “So it’s you”…But the guards immediately jumped in. And that was the beginning of the camp life.
What am I driving at? People imprisoned in the camps were quite aware of their destiny. They didn’t count on release and did not make plans for the future activity. They knew any next step could land them back in the jail, because every step would be directed against the ruling regime.
SHEVCHENKO CELEBBRATION OF 1983
V.K.: In 1983 you organized Shevchenko celebration with I.Kandyba, Yu.Lytvyn, V.Kurylo, V.Ostapenko and B.Tytarenko. It took place right in your cell. Can you tell us about it, recollecting the people whom you have met in Kuchyno camp?
V.O.: By the way, I remember preparations to that celebration, while I was still with you in the cell 17. But then I was taken away and felt very sorry I could not participate.
M.H.: Do you remember whose idea it was?
V.O.: Yours, naturally. You remember the scientific conferences you organized in Mordovia, dedicated to L.Ukrainka’s and M.Hrushevsky;s anniversaries and decided to use the experience once more.
M.H.: I was always trying to go beyond the boundaries of the prison routine and traditional sphere of the inmates’ interests. Broadening their horizons with the new experience meant not only expanding the boundaries of knowledge, but also achieving psychotherapeutic effect. In 1966, right upon arrival to the first camp, we organized M.Hrushevsky celebration. V.Moroz was our key speaker as chief historian, and I had a lot to say too, as I have read all his works. We were moved to the camp 17 and there we went ahead and organized L.Ukrainka’s celebration dedicated to her centennial. We had ten presentations and our conference lasted for ten days – just like in the Academy of Sciences. If all the materials confiscated by KGB, were put into one collection, it would have been it would have been a unique volume: to days’ conference conducted in the concentration camp, with participation of the representatives of at least seven nationalities!
I am still full of similar ideas. Russian chauvinists organized a conference entitled “Russian-Ukrainian dialogue”, but in fact it was a monologue of the Russian chauvinism. I suggested a congress of the ethnic minorities of Ukrainian minorities and Diaspora under the title “Consolidation of the world Ukrainianism”. The idea was supported with enthusiasm. I am working now on the congress of the ethnic minorities of Ukrainian minorities and Diaspora. We will have ethnic minorities of Ukraine and representatives of Diaspora – both from the East and from the West. Tomorrow we have a meeting of the World Coordination Council and I have to report there. If we manage to collect at least 50 thousand UAH, we’ll put the congress together and have a good coverage of it…A week prior to the congress we’ll get all the media – radio, TV, newspapers – involved. And then we’ll publish the congress materials and disseminate them abroad.
I talked already to I.Drach and he expressed his consent. I talked to the secretariat head O.Shokalo, and he agreed too. Now we need to set up an organizing committee, and to prepare the congress in six months, involving the specialists in the matters of the national idea formation and consolidation. Its technology, theory and practice – things like that. I am attracted to these issues, believe me. Vasyl’ is well aware of that.
What were we talking about?
V.O.: About Shevchenko’s celebration and scientific conference held in the cell 17 of the camp of special regime ВС-389/36, Kuchyno, Chusovo raion, Perm’ oblast’.
V.K.: Besides, I’d like to hear your evaluation of the camp administration.
M.H.: What was the name of the last commandant, the one who had died?
V.O.: Major Zhuravkov. He died 10 after Stus, in September 1985. His heir, major Dolmatov, died also – on April 4, 1989, at 46. He was buried several meters away from Stus’s grave. For some time Kondratyev and Snyadovsky were commandants of the special department.
M.H.: And what about that fat colonel – how is he doing?
V.O.: Chief security officer Fedorov? He is alive and kicking, heading Perm’ oblast’ military veterans’ committee.
M.H.: So, we were talking about celebration. I want to say that many people imagine the life of the prisoners like this: people are sitting around, sulking and thinking about freedom. It is a totally erroneous vision – an active intellectual work goes on in prison. Vasyl’ remembers the discussions we used to have there, very vividly. I myself cannot forget the debates we had with the late Yu.Lytvyn. They were around the issues of the Ukrainian liberation movement, assessment of anarchism, human rights, rights of nations, human rights’ movement. They date back to the Ukrainian philosophy, political thought and even art. Yurko often referred to the essay he had written about Shevchenko as human rights advocate. So we had intense intellectual life behind the bars. I suggested organizing Shevchenko celebration.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact, that before Gorbachev had come to power, KGB decided to do away with the political prisoners whom they deemed dangerous for the Russian empire if released. I know for sure that 6 persons out of 24 died in the course of just one year 1984-85, in small camp. They targeted people who were community leaders, who had not broken by the years of persecution and imprisonment. They understood that after release these people would continue their struggle, not intimidated by the years in jail. I remember extremely well the deaths of O.Tykhy ( May 5, 1984), Yu.Lytvyn (September 4, 1984), V.Marchenko (October 7, 1984), and V.Stus (September 4, 1985).
You know, Tykhy never gave up and always took a challenge of demonstrating his invincible stand. The others remained firm too. No one, but for 1-2 persons, have yielded. And it was challenge. O.Tykhy won’t shave his moustache. They had to do it by force. It was his form of protest against prison rules. He was thrown to the penitentiary cell and developed a serious disease. After the arrest he became a very sick person. He had a hernia, big as an apple. Later it transformed into a cancerous tumor. He died as a hero.
V.O.. Tykhy died in Perm’ hospital on May 5. The same day, I.Mamchych died straight in the kitchen. During the week prior to his death he had been interrogated by KGB official who had come from Poltava. He was revising the cases from the war times: “No one forgotten, nothing forgotten” – they needed to revive these cases now and then to keep “boiling temperature” in the society.
M.H.: Yu.Lytvyn died under strange and tragic circumstances. I was sick and did not go to work. Lytvyn was in the cell next to my. On that tragic day he knocked on my wall and said through the peep-hole: “They sent my son to Odessa, where the drug addicts are. They want to break me through my son, but I won’t give up.” And his mood was so blue! I still hear his laughter: “Ha-ha-ha! No, I am not yielding!” My God, I thought, what is it with him? I knocked on his wall and called him to the peep-hole: “Come, Yurko, let us talk. He answered in a couple of words and was silent after that”. It was before lunch, around 11 in the morning.
V.O.: It was August 23, 1984. Lytvyn was in the cell 20 then, and you – in the cell 19.
M.H.: Yes, it was my last talk with him, and, probably, his last talk with anyone, because he stayed in the cell alone. When Enn Tarto returned for lunch…
V.O.: No, no, it was Gunar Astra. He said by ten he was done with his work. He saw something was wrong with Lytvyn, he was delirious: “Have you brought my teeth?” 9 month ago dentist Lysenko filed his teeth preparing them for the crowns and never returned. Yurko suffered a lot from pain. So Gunar called a doctor, but no one came. At 12 other inmates came for lunch and Fedorov pushed aside the sheet and saw that Lytvyn’s belly was cut. There was no blood, but intestines fell out.
M.H.: You see, I’ve forgotten. You were there, Vasyl’, weren’t you? When he had knocked on our wall- like that?
V.O.: No, I was in the cell 18 then.
M.H.: We heard Yurko being taken out of the cell – he knocked on our cell door. We understood he was saying good-bye to us.
I want to recollect another person – V.Marchenko. He came to our cell 19 very sick. Have you been there at the time?
V.O.: No, no, he was with you and Kandyba. It was around May 1984.
M.H.: He brought a big thermos with him, for 2 or 3 liters, with some kind of compote in it. He wanted to share it with us.
V.K.: It was wild rose infusion – his mother always brought it to him…
M.H.: But seeing him so sick, we refused. I was impressed with his internal concentration and feeling of doom felt in his words, gestures and mimics. He was doomed but not subdued. I often saw him on the upper bunk – he sat there wrapped in a wet towel and prayed. He always encouraged us to do the same: “Guys, you’ve got to pray, guys, you’ve got to pray!” And why did he need the wet towel? His kidneys did not work properly, so all the toxins were evacuated through the skin. So he used to wet the towel in the cold water and then wrapped it around himself. The towel would absorb these toxins. When he wrung it a milk-like liquid would flow. He did it every day. And every day he had to go to work. We were protesting: “Can’t you see the man is very sick?”, but no one would listen. Then they understood he might die right there, so they sent him to a hospital in Gazy near Leningrad. We knew he would not survive the journey, because he won’t be able to wet his towel. Two or three weeks on the transport will be the end of him. He left us and died very soon – on October 7, 1984.
There was a mystic thing which I could not understand: how his mom Nina Mykhaylovna, knew where he was being taken? He followed him from Urals to Gazy. She was a unique woman. Some people show us the magnitude of the human spirit and morals. Like mother, like son. He did not make a fuss about his end, but he left for the better world surrounded by light. He showed us an example to follow – how one should remain a human being at the moment of one’s demise. It is important not only live with dignity but also die with dignity. It is the sign of a person of real integrity. V.Marchenko was such a person. An exceptional man!
V.Stus had indomitable spirit; he was always ready for Sturm und Drang, for an attack. For him it was not enough to stay in prison. He considered it just part of his protest. He had to demonstrate his protest all the time. This permanent confrontation and protest cost him a lot.
The camp had four penitentiary cells. Someone had to be there at all times. As soon as one inmate left the cell, they would look for replacement. But sometimes the cells were empty. We were taken out for an exercise and guards would frisk us thoroughly. We returned and they did the same. They frisked us on the way to work and back. Stus had enough of that: “Stop squeezing me like chicken!” Do you remember this utterance, Vasyl’? "You fascists!” And they were just anticipating something like that. Immediately they pass an order – and Stus goes to the penitentiary cell.
Before that we were in the same cell. But two weeks before the tragic accident he was moved to the cell 12, to L.Borodin. So when he came after the frisk and was getting his stuff ready for the penitentiary cell, Borodin said: “Vasyl’,why don’t you take a bowl or something?” – “I proclaimed a hunger strike”. “For how many days?” asked Borodin. – “Till the very end”.
Once I witnessed such an exchange. Stus already went on hunger strike but was taken to the hospital and had to stop.
V.O.: In early 1983 he did not eat for 18 days.
M.H.: When he got back from the hospital we talked through the peep-hole. He said: Mykhaylo, I feel so bad about interrupting the hunger strike, after announcing I would go till the very end. I cannot do it another time”.
After Vasyl’ was taken to the penitentiary cell, Leonid Borodin was moved to our cell (you too were in the cell 19, right, Vasyl’?) And Borodin told us this story. And someone who worked on the second shift related that on the fourth day Stus knocked on the door and asked the guard for validol for his heart ache.
V.O.: It was Enn Tarto, the Estonian. He used to bring the work orders to the inmates.
M.H.: Yes, it was Tarto. And the guard said: “You will have to do without!”
But he could not do without. Stus died on September 4, 1985.
I witnessed the death of an Azerbaijani Akper Kerimov. In the face of death he showed an uncommon courage. I’ve never seen anything like that. He had either cancer or inflammation of the kidneys - he passed blood when urinating. The pain was atrocious. We were in the hospital in Vsekhsvyatska. “Horyn’, I can’t scream when you are asleep!” I had deficient kidneys myself. I said: “Look Kerimov, don’t be childish. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and scream!” When he urinated blood, he squirmed with pain. I know what kidney pain is – it is like one hundred teeth gnawing your back. When one passes kidney stones it hurts like hell. And now I was a person with decaying kidneys and nothing but blood coming out…
Akper Kerimov was not a political activist. His conviction dated back to the war times – allegedly he collaborated with the Germans. Anyway for me he remains an example of a man in full control of himself. Even dying he did not turn into neurasthenic and accepted his death without screaming or fear.
Remembering V.Marchenko and A.Kerimov I am always thinking that the world will never run short of outstanding people. Even after monstrous Moscow roller of despotism had smashed a lot of people and turned them into slaves. Not everyone could be smashed.
Today we still wonder how Stus and Svitlychny, Sverstyuk and Ovsienko and dozens and hundreds of other people determined to build an independent Ukraine were possible in the totally enslaved country.
There have been discussions about this issue in the 60-s and I dared suggesting the following answer: in early 19th century Ukrainian nation was smashed by the Russian tsarism and only small saplings could break through. But T.Shevchenko pushed the nation forward, revived and educated it with his words, giving it not only artistic, but also a political aspect. He became a real Messiah, who managed to concentrate all the major spiritual values of the Ukrainian nation. When I am re-reading Shevchenko I keep thinking: My God, you, critics looking for blemishes in Shevchenko’s personality tend to forget why you can live in Ukraine and remain Ukrainians. And it is only because in early 19th century Shevchenko lived and worked here. We can find today articles written by Solomia Pavlychko and by Harvard professor Hrabovych whom I knew personally. I would like to discuss his concept with him. Depicting Shevchenko as stupid, primitive and immoral is a crime against Ukrainian nation. Shevchenko gave us spiritual strength. If Stus sacrificed his life for Ukraine, he died not only as a great poet, but also as a hero; if Lytvyn, Tykhy and Marchenko perished for Ukraine it was not for nothing. They were inspired by Shevchenko. Without him I cannot fathom what would have become of us. But I am sorry – I digressed from our topic.
V.K: Have you ever met Semen Skalych?
M.H.: Yes. He sent me a letter recently. I see him as a person so focused on his idea that human suffering is of no importance to him. You should have seen him in his cell: his never-healing wound was rotting exuding a terrible smell. However he refused to buy food in the jail food stand or to take a piece of cheese or a piece of bread from his comrades. He managed to survive on the miserable jail ration (and some portion of it was inedible). He rejected any contacts with administration. He drew strength from his indomitable spirit.
I will not discuss his religious views here – I do not share his beliefs. But if the faith attracted such a strong person, then it should have something attractive. He was an outstanding man.
OVER THE ABYSS
In1986 I was not well. Often I was taken to the hospital. And on June 28, 1987 I had a massive heart attack. Before it I had a talk with the camp commander Dolmatov. After the deaths of our boys I asked for an appointment and said: “Well, is it my turn now? Tykhy is dead, Lytvyn is dead, Marchenko is dead, Stus is dead”. – “But why should you be the next?” – Because only Ukrainians seem to be dying. I didn’t’ mention Kerimov. “Well, I have an irregular heartbeat, too!”.
After the infarction that happened during the inquest in Lviv, I often had heart attacks. Once at night I felt I was suffocating. I was on the upper bunk and when I opened my eyes the whole cell seemed red to me. Well, I thought, it’s a terrible attack. Now something will collapse in my head – and I’ll jin the majority. Shall I wake my comrades up? But they have a work day tomorrow. And anyway how can they help me? So I appealed to myself: “Mykhaylo, stay calm, leave this world peacefully, without panic”. I managed to calm down.
Before that, doctor Ye.Pchelnikov, a real butcher, was dismissed. He was dismissed because it became known in the West that Kuchyno camp was a death camp with Pchelnikov as its executioner, and not a doctor. Certain Hrushchenko or Hryshchenko was sent to replace him. He was young, coming from Vinnytsya oblast’. He called me in for examination and said: “If you feel bad, call me at any time of night.” – “But who will call you, doctor?” – “I warned those in charge”. He was afraid someone would die on him and assumed I was one of the candidates.
In fact, I had an attack at night, and wondered whether I should call him. Well І let it be and the attack passed. In the morning the inmates went to work. You stayed in that cell, right?
M.H.: So, you went to work and I stayed in bed. In the evening another attack occurred, just like the first one. Then I asked Petro Ruban to knock on the door. Petro knocked on the door with his mighty fist and called the guard. The guard called the doctor at half past ten at night and the doctor took me to his ward. I spent the whole night there – till five thirty in the morning. He was so nervous I saw his hands trembling. He gave me an injection – no stable pulse. I relaxed and said: “Well, doctor, approaching the finish line, are we?” – “Maybe, another small injection?” – “Why ask? Go ahead with it!”. “But it is dangerous”, he said. It could overburden my heart, you know, an intravenous injection. I told him to go ahead, so he gave me another injection. The heartbeat renewed. He sat with me till half past five in the morning and then he took me back to the cell. I could still make it to the upper bunk. And he said: “If you feel bad call me in the morning”. I decided to catch at least of couple of hours’ sleep. In the morning, at 9 am he came to see me at his own discretion. In fact, it was due to him that I stayed alive.
It was June 28, 1987.
I thought I would be transferred to a hospital, but several days later, on July 3, 1987, I was called to the headquarters and told to get ready for another transport. – “I am not going, I will not survive it”. – “You’ve got to go”. – “Please don’t take me to a hospital, the road is so bumpy, that it will finish me up”. And so this discussion went on and on. Finally I suggested: “If you insist on my going, then call a doctor and let him decide” The doctor came and said: “You’ve got to go.” “Doctor, - I said, - if I die on the way it will be your responsibility”. – “No, you are going to Lviv”. – “I don’t want to go to these negotiations again”. But they took me anyway. I collected my bare necessities. Just a bit of margarine and a slice of bread. I left all the rest, and some of my disappeared.
I stepped out of the zone and saw one of the inmates working there cutting the hey. I will not eveal his name because of publicity. So I stepped out preceded by a tall guard. Do you remember his name, Vasyl’? The tall guy in front of me, with his handgun and that’s it. No watch dogs, nothing else. I wondered what was wrong.
He took me to the concentration camp of severe regime, about 300 m from our special one. There they told me: “Change into other clothes, you are pardoned!” I said:” I don’t want to be pardoned. I want to be exonerated”. – “Undress!” – “I will not do it”. Then two guards stripped me of my prison striped robe and “Go!” – They ordered. – “Where shall I go?” – “Where the bus is waiting.” I did not go, they had to put black suit on me to escort me. Kondratyev and Dolmatov were waiting there. They entered the bus and we went to Chusova station. “Go and get ticket to Lviv”, they ordered. – “I am not going”. – “I did not come here on my free will. I was brought here. Now bring me back”. – "But do you have any money?”– "Yes, 200 roubles. But I am not buying tickets.” And suddenly I saw my brother Mykola, right here, in Chusova. – “How come you are here?!” They told me in the KGB office that you were very sick and that I had to escort you home”. Mykola accompanied me. He took care of all the tickets, to Perm’, train and plane tickets.
We came to Kiev. I was detained for three days, as they did not want to let me go to Lviv. They would not sell me a train ticket. – “Tickets sold” and that was it. I have stayed at my brother’s in law place for three days. On July 5 I arrived in Lviv.
July 5, 1987 ... My friends came out to meet me. I saw Vyacheslav Chornovil His first words were: “Listen, let us publish a magazine, because it had been published for the last 15 years."
V.O.: "Ukrainsky visnyk"?
M.H.: Yes, "Ukrainsky visnyk"? Issue number 6 came out of print in 1973 after Chornovil. I told him: “Slavko, I’d rather go to the hospital – I had a terrible attack a week ago. Let me take a rest for a week. Talk to others colleagues in Lviv”. – “No one wants to do it”.
In July 1987 no one wanted to join the editing board of "Ukrainsky visnyk". I went to see my mother and my mother-in-law. By my return no one had volunteered yet. So we started doing it ourselves. “Look,- said I - I wish we were at least a threesome. Let’s go to see Hel’!” We came and saw Hel’ herding kolkhoz’ cows. He gave his consent at once. We printed issue number 7. I think, Hel’s name is there. I should look it up – here it is.
That is how we renewed "Ukrainsky visnyk".
Obviously, I can find no job. I got back to my previous job, i.e. the stoker. Vyacheslav was a stoker, too. We worked 14-15 hours a day. Hel’s did not have a lot of potential. He had good pen, but he was in Horodets raion, it is rather far. So main work burden had to be carried by us, We worked 14-15 hours a day, no Saturday, no Sunday.
V.K: What did it consist in? What did magazine editing look like in 1987?
M.H.: In 1987 we did it like this. We phoned to the potential authors. That was one piece of work, collecting materials. Then actual editing. It was on Vyacheslav and me. Later my brother Bohdan,Mykhaylo Osadchy and other people joined in. Third component of the job consisted in printing, which was semi-illegal. We had to…
We had to find girls – maybe in the conservatoire, or somewhere else to type on our typewriters. Then we had to collect funds for the purchase of paper and photo paper. Making photos was a tedious job. I think I showed you already. That is how the columns of the "Ukrainsky visnyk" were typed and here is a special addition. It was printed by photo-technique. If you want to have 50 copies of the special edition, you can imagine what a lot of photo paper it required. We needed a lot of money for that.
V.K: So did you have any donations?
M.H.: What do you think? Of course, we had donations. As soon as I returned I wrote an open letter “Relapses of pogrom journalism”. It was my first article published in 1987.
“INTERVIEW ON THE SLY”
The soviet media accused us of establishing contacts with West, of spying for the foreign intelligence etc. A certain Marta Kolomiets had interviewed Slavko and me on video. In the airport she was searched and the video was taken away. Marta behaved strangely. Young girl as she was she kept telling us: “Don’t worry about this interview; if KGBists take hold of it everything will disappear from the camera as soon as they open it”. We were laughing at her – we didn’t care if they saw it or not, we were not afraid of them. But while she was interviewing us, a car was hanging outside Chornovil’s house, a kind of micro van, with antenna sticking out – they were filming us demonstratively. They searched Marta in the airport, and a week later a series of programs was released for Lviv TV, called “Interview on the sly”. After the first and second episode fascinated viewers were requesting more. But they stopped the program. I think, three episodes altogether went on air. I watched and thought: “Oh, KGBists, how stupid you are! What are you doing?”
Then they unleashed the campaign of earmarking Chornovil and me as the agents of the foreign intelligence who had to be thrown out of the USSR. We wrote a petition to international organization, I don’t remember which one, with the request: if we are deported to any of the UN member states, let them not accept us. Some people in our circle used to say that it was much better to end up abroad than to in jail. I was summoned to the head of operative unit of KGB (I don’t remember his name), who said: “Mr.Horyn’, this spring is temporary, the thaw will come to an end soon and you will have to return to prison to serve the rest of your term, i.e. nine more years”. I said: “Don’t approach me with that again. If you wish – come with the handcuffs, bind me and send me to prison, but I don’t want to talk to you again.” You see, it was an interesting approach – on the one hand, they hinted they didn’t want to arrest me, and on the other were trying to intimidate me.
UKRAINIAN HELSINKI GROUP
Alongside with the magazine we decided to revive UHG. And so we did. The magazine became its mouthpiece. But, according to Chornovil, we had to set up a larger political organization than UHG which was focused exclusively on human rights. The idea of creating Ukrainian Helsinki Union and the very name were proposed by Chornovil. The group Declaration stating its principles was written together, I participated in it too. B.Horyn’ undertook the editing of the declaration. We had three-pronged discussions. I believe the Declaration was quite good…
These instances are but small fragments and tiny streams, where only few names are mentioned. In fact, the process was gaining momentum. After one year of operation UHU by 1989, counted over one thousand members, and in 1990 – 2300 members. In Lviv only we had Iryna and Ihor Kalynets family, M.Osadchy, I.Hel’, B.Horyn’, not mentioning the fact that alongside with this union other organizations of dissent nature spread up, like, e.g. a strike committee led by Furmanov. We had a most characteristic discussion with the secretary of the city council Volkov. He invited us and it was the first chance to formulate our position with regards to soviet regime which we deemed alien to our people, according to UHU Declaration, within the city council walls.
You know, probably that the fist rally took place in Lviv in 1988, on June 16 if I am not mistaken. It was focused on the elections to the Supreme Council of the USSR. The representatives of various groups spoke up – from the Communist party and from our organization. We demanded changing the status of the Ukr.SSR within the Soviet Union. This first rally initiated the entire series. The authorities failed to give us decisive response. The power always loses if it hesitates or wishes to respond half-way. It can be compared to the world of crime: if you slap a scoundrel he is ready to kill you, but if you knock him down he runs. The Soviet power mildly intimidated us and mildly punished us – with 200 or 2000 roubles’ fine, or with 15 days’ detention (B.Horyn’. V.Chornovil and others got these 15 days).
In 1989 I went to Chernivtsi to give a lecture on the resistance movement. I barely had time to say a few words in the University hall when plain-clothes men entered it and said “Mr.Horyn’, you are arrested for organizing a non-sanctioned rally”. A discussion followed. The students gathered in the hall started shouting and the professors followed the suit. There was an old acquaintance of mine, whom I had known since 50-s - professor Lesyn. I was taken to the magistrate and sentenced to 15 days of detention. My wife learnt quite accidentally that I was doing time in Chernivtsi prison.
These were half-hearted measures: a person ready to do life term was convicted to 15 days – ridiculous! Shy attempts to stop the resistance movement did nothing to harness it, but provoked a new outburst instead. People were not afraid either of beatings or of the 2000 roubles’ fines or 15 days detentions – they wanted new life. I don’t know whether they were ready to sacrifice their own lives but this is another issue. Such people were unique. But they were definitely ready for moderate reprisals. A beating of a rally participant caused the upheaval of rallies in Lviv.
We set up an UHU Executive Committee. V.Chornovil, Z.Krasivsky and I became the secretaries. Chornovil said it was very good to have three secretaries, but we needed the head as well. He suggested writing a letter to L.Lukyanenko seeking his consent to head the organization. He agreed. In late 1988 we announced that L.Lukyanenko is the head of UHU. He came back from his exile in January 1989. But before that, in summer 1988 he came to Khrypivka in Chernihiv oblast’, for a visit. We came to see him there. There is a picture showing the three of us - L.Lukyanenko with two secretaries.
V.K: What were your considerations when you offered the position to L.Lukyanenko? What was the head’s role?
M.H.: The idea was Chornovil’s - to have one person instead of triumvirate as the head of an organization. Since January 1989 L.Lukyanenko started his operation as the head. In January or February 1989 a Coordination meeting of the UHU convened at D.Fedoriv’s place in Olehivska street 10, in Kiev. He was from Striy, Galicia and worked as a dancer in a folk group. He bought a dilapidated house in Olehivska, but as a generous man he always invited us and we used to hang around.
A minor discord occurred at the meeting. Chornovil who saw himself as the father to the processes of the late 80-s should have been Khomeini of sorts, despite the fact that he handed L.Lukyanenko the reigns of leadership on his own free will. And L.Lukyanenko took to business seriously. One could sense that the leadership of UHU was two-pronged. I think that was the root of the conflicts that followed. When a need arose to transform the UHU to political party, V.Chornovil wanted to do it as soon as possible, while L.Lukyanenko and I suggested convening for a congress in late April 1990.
V.O.: Right, and Chornovil wanted it right in November 1989, and, maybe not even in Ukraine, but somewhere in Lithuania. And the elections were approaching.
M.H.: When the issue of URP membership and leadership became relevant, Chornovil already headed Lviv oblast’ Council, and so he did not join URP which was officially formed at the Constituent congress on April 29, 1990.
V.O.: In fact he left UHU as early as the end of 1989 .
PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT OF UKRAINE (RUKH)
I came to Kiev around July 1989, on the request from I.Drach and D.Pavlychko who initiated the movement for restructuring of Ukraine, to participate in the preparation of the congress. They also asked me whether I was willing to become the head of the Rukh secretariat. I am not sure why Drach did it, but we used to be very close in the 60-s, as I told you earlier. He was the one who warned me about the KGBists planned raid to arrest us.
I got involved in the congress preparation. The work was crazy. We had to draft a lot of documents, and it had to be done precisely, with due language for every phrase. Read the Rukh documents of 1989 and you will see their high professional and legal level. They touched upon various aspects – economics, politics, Christianity and others.
But where shall I stay in Kiev? I don’t remember the details, but I believe it was O.Shevchenko, one of the Ukrainian cultural club organizers, who introduced me to D. Fedoriv and I stayed at his place.
On September 8 – 10, 1989 Constituent congress of Rukh convened. UHU was very popular at the time. When I was nominated for the secretariat head of the UHU, the audience started chanting “URP,URP, URP!” It was time when we were loved. For the first time in my political life I was elected unanimously, like at the soviet times’ elections. I had no rivals.
An interesting event occurred at the Constituent congress of Rukh, which reflected my own position to a certain extent. On the second day, presiding at the congress I received a note from the second secretary of CC OF KPU L.Kravchuk: “Please give me floor”. I made an announcement: “Next the floor is given to the second secretary of CC OF KPU L.Kravchuk". And a man from Poltava branch jumps on the stage (a lawyer whose name I forgot) and shouts: “What?! That dirty communist is given the floor!” I cut him short, saying he was not on the agenda, and asking him to step off. I also added “I’d better spend 9 years more in jail, than, being a democrat would refuse the right to speak to the second secretary of CC OF KPU L.Kravchuk. Mr.Kravchuk, please come on stage”. He stepped up and his first words were: “What I have come to, if Horyn’ has to defend me!’ That was our first contact.
I want to tell you something that might sound commonplace, but I am convinced that people of integrity remember the good. Grey, useless people always try to diminish good things we’ve done for them. Since then we had somewhat unusual contacts with Kravchuk. We had discussions. I criticized him. Once, when Yeltsyn put his hand on his shoulder, I commented on TV that a President of Ukraine should keep the proper dignity. In his answer Kravchuk said:”I will not have all and sundry lecturing me on how I should behave” .Do you remember, Mr.Ovsienko?
As a member of the URP leadership I was wearing two hats. My major work was at Rukh and it was a very hard job.
I was an advocate of organizational growth. This concept was getting shape while I was still in prison. A party cannot grow without new ideas. A party must choose an issue to which big masses of people are not indifferent. I.e. a party should be formed around a specific goal. As soon as secretariat was elected, I suggested the idea of Unity Chain to bring together East and West of Ukraine. I met O.Honchar and he said, using my pet name (we knew each other since the 60-s) “Chain is not a nice name. Call it “Ukrainian wave”. I mentioned this name in several articles but it was not supported. The Chain helped me to consolidate dozens, or even hundreds of people around Rukh.
Six months after the Chain was held in August 1990 we celebrated the Day of Cossack Glory. The Zaporizhzhya authorities were decidedly against it. I have a picture showing me in the office of the secretary of Zaporizhzhya oblast’ committee. I am showing the sites of celebration on the map He was refusing point blank. He claimed he had no funds to provide meal for 100 thousand people, it would be poorly organized etc., but under my pressure we finally came to an agreement. I said: “Can’t you get a big truck which would bring food so that people would consume it in the course of day?” The Day of Cossack Glory turned out a very special event. It was the follow-up of the unity idea meant to bring together people from Eastern and Western Ukraine. Cross out Zbruch from the people’s memory and make Ukrainian people one, forget the confrontation between East and West!
Then independence was proclaimed and President elected. How can we gain the votes of the Ukrainian electorate, with 30 % of non-Ukrainians among them in favor of independce at referendum so that Ukrainian state would become reality? In November 1991 I called the Congress of Ethnic Minorities of Ukraine in Odessa. It was the third big event. At the Congress that convened in Odessa Opera House, 600 representatives of 100 ethnic minorities adopted the resolution on the support of Ukrainian independence at the referendum. It was the third state-building action.
I supported these actions because I believed they were most instrumental in building up the structures and making them nation-wide. We face now the problem of the “pocket parties” (the term was coined by Chornovil with the reference to URP). They don’t favor big public events. Today everything is done in the offices. And office policies can never be accepted by public at large.
I want to underline once again that work in URP and in Rukh was exhausting. My physical condition was very bad. From the Supreme Rada I used to hurry to Rukh, and then to URP. My working day started at 9 am and lasted till 11pm. I felt that my health won’t permit me to last long.
UKRAINIAN REPUBLICAN PARTY
In 1992 President Kuchma called me to offer the position of ambassador in Canada. I said: “Mr. President, I will not go. I am still in the trenches, I don’t want to go to Canada”– "Well, talk to you family.”I went to Lviv, gathered the family at the table. It was a formal meeting – I opened it and introduced the agenda seeking their opinion about the possibility of going to Canada. Only one voice was for – that of my Oksanka, who wanted to see the world. Everyone else said “No”. I came back to Kravchuk and reported that at the official meeting of Horyn’ family a decision to go to Canada haven’t got the majority of votes and so I refuse.
A week or two later, L.Lukyanenko told me that Kravchuk had offered him the ambassador’s office. – “And what did you say?” – “I accepted”. – “At this time? But who will remain here? Of course, ambassador’s function is very important, when everything goes more or less smoothly, but now? I am absolutely against it!” – ‘Oh, I am tired, I want to have some rest and to write something”. I said:”And do you think you will rest at the ambassador’s position? With all the economic, political, cultural and artistic functions you won’t have a moment to look out of the window”. But it was too late.
I often had to go to the hospital as I was on the verge of total exhaustion. When I was in the Feofania hospital for the umpteenth time, an entire delegation including L.Lukyanenko, O.Danyleyko, O.Pavlsyshyn, came to ask me to become the head of the URP. I talked to my brother: “Bohdan, maybe you will take up this position? Lukyanenko is going away to be an ambassador”. Bohdan refused and so did I. They came back several times and finally Lukyanenko played his ace card, very wisely: “If you don’t agree Stepan Khmara will become the head and destroy the party completely”. Without this argument I would have never agreed. I did it only under the weight of Lukyanenko’s reasoning.
I tried to make party as up-to-date and modern as possible. I hoped to establish the contacts with ideologically close parties in the other countries. I went to the World International of the Christian Democracy in Brussels, got in touch with various parties in the US and in Europe. We were entering world stage. If our party wants to have its say in the political life of Ukraine, it cannot restrict itself to Ukrainian operation only. It was my first concept. The second was that for the uninterrupted operation of the party without any hindrances it has to have its own material base. Therefore, the money we got now and then was used to set up a printing house, so that we don’t have to run around to print our materials.
In the second half of 1993 L.Lukyanenko asked me to prepare a letter at the URP Council meeting requesting his return from Canada to Ukraine where he was needed for the political operation.
Mr. Danyleyko, former secretariat head, made a very interesting point: “Something does not work for Mr. Lukyanenko in that embassy”. We wrote a letter. Meanwhile I was approached by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Zlenko telling me that the Ukrainian ambassador in Canada will have to be replaced. I’ll omit the details, but he sought our help. I explained that we have prepared a letter at the council meeting asking for Mr.Lukyanenko’s return to Ukraine”. –“Show me that letter”. It turned out helpful to make the replacement of the ambassador look decent. I stress it because at the time many rumors and hearsays concerning this event were circulating.
Meanwhile, oddly enough, it was URP that organized the celebration of UPA 50-th anniversary, although there were organizations closer to UPA. Two years later we celebrated 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian Chief Liberation Council. Its former leaders from the US attended the event. It was an effort called to confirm that UPR was the heir of the Ukrainian liberation movement of the 40-s.
I was lucky to have engaged secretariat head who knew what to do before I could even give her orders: “It’s done” – she used to respond. It was Tamara Prosyanyk – indefatigable, unique woman, always full of ideas. Not only did she obey the orders but also put forward her own opinions. For example, she proposed Thursday discussions between party members. Scholars, public figures, politicians participated in the meetings. The idea was hers. She was a wonderful organizer and inexhaustible source of ideas.
She had her weaknesses, though. She was too harsh in her opinions of the opponents. That was why Lukyanenko was against her appointment. He claimed she was abusive to people. I said: “Levko, but who is she abusing? She has a sense of everyone’s value. But she is good organizer, regardless”. This talk took place before our 6th congress in 1995.
We discussed the changes in URP leadership with Lukyanenko more than once. “Mykhaylo, we are old, let us hand the party over. Let us elect a young person as its head to bring new spirit and new energy”. I told him I am for, but I don’t see the right candidate, mea culpa. I will be sincere with you – more than once I suggested Ovsienko, if he would agree (he claimed he was not capable of doing it. Not true, because Ovsienko was good organizer.) I told Tamara Prosyanyk, too, that Ovsienko was good at assigning tasks among the staff and he knew when and how to intervene. But he did not take heed of that. ”
Then Levko said that Bohdan Yaroshynsky spoke very well at the congress. That was his primary characteristics – speaks well at the congress. But I thought:”Should the gift of gab be predominant feature of the party leader? Certainly, the art of rhetoric is essential, but more is needed to build a party”. Nevertheless, I gave my consent.
Before the 6th congress (in1995), the UPR council meeting took place in October. Lukyanenko nominated himself as a candidate, and so did I. The congress was to open the next day and in the evening Lukyanenko invited me to talk. “Levko, I still have to finish my presentation”. – “I have an offer: I’ll vote for you if you let Tamara go”. Tamara was his stumbling block – she did not show him due respect and he needed it badly. I said: “Levko, if I remain the party head, I will choose my right-hand assistant myself. But now it is not good time to talk about it.”– "So I shall vote against you.” – “Go ahead”. Actually I was not afraid, as I was tired of my burden as a leader. Not of leadership, but of constant search for money. I’ll tell you frankly: you cannot imagine what a burden it was! I used to joke with my wife: instead of saying “Good morning” I said “Olya, money, money, money!” At night – “Olya, money,money!” Where shall I look for it? I was like a wolf from Hlibov’s tale – I snatched a sheep here and a calf there and there was no one left to go to!
That is why I made no serious preparations to the congress, especially taking into consideration the fact that Lviv organization was against me. Well, some of its members, like Pavlyshyn and Mamchur, were. And you know what happened at the congress – Levko said that if I don’t run for the position he won’t run either. I insisted he should be the first and I followed the lead. Yaroshynsky was elected head of the party. He was not ready to embrace that hard role, either psychologically or organizationally. I looked through my notes – for two or three months party meetings have not been held. Before February the council did not convene for three months. I could not imagine how one could lead the party without two monthly meetings of its leadership.
V.O.: And there were no council meetings for half a year.
M.H.: Correct. I mentioned it at some meeting. But then things started developing very rapidly. V.Ovsienko wrote some critical remarks and shared them at the council meeting in October 1996. In January 1997 Ovsienko was expelled from the party. Then at the Kiev branch meeting we stated our position. Levko met with me and said: “Look, something has to be done!” I reminded him that after his return from Canada in 1994 he suggested conducting a theoretical conference under the title ”Where shall we go?” I supported his idea. “Our goals for the conference differed and so did our motivation” –said I. You wanted to criticize me while my target was theoretical foundation. Your attempt of criticism was severely refuted. I did not have to do it personally, but Horbal’, Porovsky and many others contributed to your chastising. You failed, in other words. So, let us organize a theoretical conference dedicated to the issues of our future. It is not about criticism, but about defining some final goals”.
REPUBLICAN CHRISTIAN PARTY
This discussion produced no results. At URP Council meeting on March 15, 1997 I was expelled from the party. Before that Ovsienko was expelled for his criticism of Yaroshynsky’s tactics and methods, alongside with some other persons. On our way to the meeting we saw Ovsienko and L.Kononko holding slogans – .it was a picket organized by Yaroshynsky and Lukyanenko opponents. Noteworthy, Lukyanenko was late and never saw that picket. At the Council of March 15 M.Horbal’ spoke first as our representative expressing some critical notions. Shouts from the audience prevented him from finishing his speech. He got mad and left the meeting. Then Bohdan Horyn’ took the floor. The tumult was lesser but still protests could be heard. Bohdan left, too. Then I asked to take the floor. The shouts receded but I heard some remarks. I repeated my proposal t carry out a theoretical conference prior to the congress to define where we were going. I said:”You booed off the stage a veteran political prisoner M.Horbal’ who had been sent to jail three time and political prisoner B.Horyn’ and thus you are turning the Council into something never seen before. The opposition has no way to express its opinions, it is simply not acknowledged. So I am leaving the Council, too. I left and went to the next room of the Teachers’ House. M.Porovsky, M.Horbal’, B.Horyn’, I.Banakh and a stranger. I asked: “What is your business here?” He arrived just at the moment when we started discussing the possible trends of the future development. He said he represented some organization. He was definitely a KGB agent sent to explore the situation. We discussed the state of things and decided that a new party is in order.
After our discussion in the Teachers’ House we moved to 42, Volodymyrska street and actually it was there that we decided to set up a new party as the only way out. I don’t know who suggested naming it a Republican Christian party. Probably it was the result of our discussion.
V.O.: It was M.Porovsky.
M.H.: It probably was. I said that the crisis in URP was the result of the moral crisis among many party members. It was their moral deprivation that caused their reluctance to listen to their colleagues, the founders and leaders of the party.
We started active preparations to the Constituent party congress. I want to stress that not only Yu.Lutsiv and V.Ovsienko, but also T.Prosyanyk who came from Kremenchuk to this end, participated actively in the process. She played a significant role in the organizing committee as pusher and shaker.
We prepared the congress within a month and a half… In the tradition of the first URP congresses, the Constituent congress of the RCP on May 1st, 1997 was held in the Cinema House. M.Porovsky was elected head of the party. I was among others who voted for him. Today I would have some reprimands to make, because in my view he is developing some proverbial features of the party leader, he is conservative due to his experience in a construction company and in the komsomol, he has a dictatorial approach to leadership. I believe it does not help the party and can be even detrimental. But I am digressing from our story.
RCP had absorbed at least half of the URP members. In two and a half years it’s become structurally organized. But actually it did not increase in number, or increased very insubstantially. The organizational structure never spread to the other oblast’s. I believe a Christian party is absolutely necessary for Ukraine. We have several Christian parties, even some communist parties representing various trends of philosophical thought. Political crisis followed economical crisis, we observe increased number of parties with decrease in their membership. If two years ago we had around 15-20 parties, now…Yesterday congresses of several parties took place, Democratic Union and “Vitchyzna” among them. Supposedly, there are 86 parties. I cannot predict the further destiny of these parties, but I believe that under stabilization of the economical and political situation in Ukraine their number will decrease. The issue of parties’ merging is now on the agenda. It would be absurd to assume that it will be an easy process and a “cavalry charge” will bring several parties together within one year. It is a very complicated process. I am not even sure as to what technology to choose. Some leaders suggest merging from the bottom and then reporting to the upper echelons the results: two or three parties coming together in a given oblast’, then in the next etc. It might be easier at the grass-roots level than on top. It is possible, but so far we have nothing to boast about in the unification process.
INTERVIEW GIVEN TO VAKHTANG KIPIANI
V.K.: Mr. Horyn’, how did your contacts with other countries start?
M.H.: In 1964 an exhibition of technical books was brought from America. It was shown in Moscow, in Leningrad, and in summer 1964 arrived in Kiev. A very energetic lady by name of Oksana Smishkevych worked as a docent there. She brought a bag full of Ukrainian literature – books and magazines published abroad- to Ivan Svitlychny. They published a lot abroad. By the way, I talked with her on that occasion and our last meeting occurred in 1995. Svitlychny was amused with her rendering of the events: “I go by the street with the bag full of books and a car is demonstratively following me at the same pace. But they cannot frisk me as I have diplomatic immunity.”
Oksana Smishkevych decided to come to Lviv. I believe my apartment was well-bugged, because after her arrival, KGB functionaries hang in front of my window quite demonstratively. KGB used two types of surveillance – open and covered. The first was used to make you aware of being followed as means of intimidation. So my apartment was under KGB surveillance. My wife’s brother Slavko is an artist, but also an athlete with broad shoulders, narrow waist and muscles worthy of Hercules. He came to the window, opened it (I live on the third floor) and shook his fist at the KGB man. The KGBist just laughed. That time Oksana Smishkevych could not visit me.
Our first contacts with foreign countries date back to the 60-s. They were sporadic then. After I came back from prison, in the 70-s they still remained random. OUN made a mistake by sending Ya.Dobosh in the 70-s. He was detained and used as a pretext for arrests in 1972. He claimed he had given 30 roubles to some people, to incriminate them. They let him free. I heard he died soon after that.
After our return in 1986-87 the nature of these contacts had changed. It was Gorbachev’s era, people from abroad started coming to Ukraine en mass.
V.K: How much truth is in the assumption that a big group of OUN (b) operated in Ukraine? Only after Z.Krasivsky’s death the rumors were spread that he used to be a unit commander. Did you know about his membership in OUN (b)? You knew him well, didn’t you?
M.H.: I knew he was OUN member, but it was of no importance.
I think reluctance of banderivtsi to acknowledge us demonstrated their political blindness. In September 1990 I went to the US for the first time. I made presentations at least in 10 cities –Detroit, Washington, New York. And wherever I went, I stressed that that currently we are building political structure in Ukraine and it would be most undesirable if Diaspora would project their internal discords on Ukraine. We have Republican Party, Democratic Party, Rukh. Come back to Ukraine and join these structures. They could not argue with me. Someone remarked they also were doing something: "You are right, -I retorted- But you emigrated to avoid the terrible plague, while you were still young. I understand you had hard time here. We had it much easier on jail bunks”. I think I was entitled to speak this way.
I visited the US as the head of Rukh secretariat and the deputy head of the NRU, headed by Drach and found myself in OUN environment, among former members of “SS-Galicia” division. And banderivtsi from OUN invited me. We had discussions with Askold Lozynski – before that they did not contact us in Ukraine. Our papers were printed abroad in two centers –UHVR and OUN (m). The third center, OUN (b) never participated. Melnykivtsi printed all our materials and published them, but banderivtsi never did.
In 1991 or even in 1992 first OUN banderivtsi came to Ukraine. Slava Stets’ko arrived alongside with other people, new contacts were established. I believe the OUN (b) congress in which CUN was proclaimed, convened in 1992.
V.K: Right, in 1992, in Central Rada building.
M.H.: In my opinion the opposition movement in Ukraine in the 60-s –early 1990-s was correctly diagnosed by OUN (m). Meanwhile OUN (b) remained mere observers as they did not want to discredit themselves by their contacts with “oppositionists turned red”. They believed they were purer patriots than those who did their time in the concentration camps for dozens of years.
V.K: Tell me, between your first and second imprisonment in the 70-s, did you feel moral impact of former OUN members on public life in Lviv?
M.H.: In the 70-s there was no public or political of the opposition nature sensu stricto. It is first. Second, KGB managed to break many OUN members who had served terms in the camps. In our movement KGB had dozens of agents. These people were inconspicuous. I do not know anyone from 60-s and 70-s underground, who returned to prison, maybe D.Shumuk.
V.K: Petro Saranchuk...
V.O.: V.Kurylo, M.Symchych, V.Romanyurek, Z.Krasivsky, V.Dolishny…
M.H.: Anyway these were isolated cases. The people you named went to jail not as OUN members, but as the participants of the new human rights movements. OUN underground ceased to exist by 70-s і 80-s. We, the new generation filled the camps, but they did not go.
V.K: There is professor of physics and mathematics K.Stasyuk in Lviv. At the recommencement OUN (m) congress in 1993 he was referred to as active member of OUN and it commander since 1941. He writes for “Ukrainske slovo”.
M.H.: Believe me, I have a broad network of contacts in Lviv. I knew the sentiments and opinions of intelligentsia. But in 60-s and 70-s there was no opposition movement. There was nothing. Even if the underground existed it did not manifest itself.
V.K: But still OUN might have influenced, let us say, Kalynets family, Hel’, others…
M.H.: OUN influence on everyone, including myself, was tremendous. But it was the influence of those who prior to 1952, fought soviet power arms in hand. I always saw myself as banderovets. But the claims that after 50-s OUN underground still existed sound naïve.
In the 50-s thousands of young people went to concentration camps for organizing new underground group similar to OUN (b). When we entered the political stage, we rejected this practice as we believed it has exhausted its resource. We preferred tactics of open visor.
In my opinion, OUN underground did not exist in the 1990-s.
V.K: I would say in the late 80-s. OUN had an impact on SNUM formation.
M.H.: Is there organization it did not have impact upon? It influenced URP, it influenced everyone. But I am referring to OUN underground groups. Speaking last year at a rally I said Roman Shukhevych so far is not appreciated by the Ukrainian historical science as an outstanding personality in the struggle for the independent Ukrainian state. He ranks third or fourth in the entire pantheon, while his role is undeservedly diminished. He was a prominent organizer of the opposition. I bow low to him. I want to write about him: he was the very soul of our movement!
Another person was with him in the underground. Now she lives in Germany…
V.O.: Аh, right, right – is it Irena Kozak?
M.H.: Irena Kozak! She was Shukhevych’s assistant.
V.K.: And what do you think about the entire hubbub around the publication in “Ukrainsky shlyakh”? In Lviv a lot had been written about a KGB investigation under the code name of “Block” .The goal was to compromise the dissidents and set them against each other. It said “professor” was M.Horyn’, “Borys” was B. Horyn’ , “Liaison” was L.Popadyuk, “Mole” was Ya.Kenzyur, Sportsman” was Kosiv…
M.H.: Мy alias was not “Professor”, “Borys” was Bohdan, and I was…What was the alias? It was a name, too.
V.K: No, it was “Professor” all right. Kandyba was “Hawk” and so on. Do you remember how people from the same environment tried to compromise each other?
M.H.: I do, I do.
V.K: Agents “Chornomorsky”, “Alla”,”Teresa” were mentioned there. Because of that Ya.Kedzior and M.Kosiv accused Yu.Shukhevych of being that “Chornomorsky” agent himself – right in the newspaper.
M.H.: They tried compromising me, because they could not catch me, although they knew I was up to something. The searches led them nowhere. But I heard the rumor that M.Horyn’ was a KGB agent. And once a man came and asked me: “So, does L.Popadyuk visit you? Everyone knows she is an agent.” And once L.Popadyuk was going along the street with papers and suddenly a “thief” grabbed her bag and ran away with it. Then Popadyuk was called to them and interrogated. They didn’t detain her, but kept following her.
Only courageous people dared to approach me. There was a woman, by name of Slabkovska, who worked in the conservatoire – she came to us and informed that she was, in her own words, ”politically raped” by the KGB functionaries and forced her to report on us. I said: “Don’t come to see me again, Lyuba, and it will keep you out of trouble. I forbid you coming to my home, otherwise you will have to invent something later. As it is you can say Horyn’ just turned you out”. So Lyuba began coming when I was out and talked with Olya. Olya let her be. Lyuba worked in the conservatoire. After my arrest Lyube testified against me. She was forced to do so, poor thing. She liked to have a shot or two of alcohol. So she testified against me and my wife. Olya is a very determinate woman – Vasyl’ knows her – so she pressed Lyuba and Lyuba wrote an affidavit refuting her former testimony. The KGBists, whose names I have forgotten, terrorized Lyuba.
We had some people in our surroundings that collaborated with KGB. One man told me what they talked to him about in KGB office. One of them mentioned that “Horyn’ is back to the underground activity”. It was then the Bulletin of the Helsinki Group was seized in Moscow. They found my fingerprints on it. So he was told about it for me to know that I was followed. It was moral pressure. They knew he would relate it to me. I cannot tell how much truth there was in his story and how double-faced he was really. Anyway he always related his talks with KGB to me.
As to the others, it is hard to tell, because their positions were not clearly defined…
V.K.: After Chornovil’s arrest there was an attempt of reviving “Ukrainsky visnyk”…
M.H.: Right! Kosiv and Kedzior published in 1972 the sixth issue of “Visnyk”. But when we were imprisoned in 1965, Kedzior was with us. During the inquest they let him go.
V.O.: He spent about a year in prison, correct?
M.H.: Kosiv? No, I believe it was 5-6 months, before they let him free. Then many people were released.
.V.O.: So he did not stand the trial, did he?
M.H.: No, not at all. He was set free prior to it. Then Hanya Sadovska was let free, alongside with Kosiv, and certain Baturin, former OUN fighter. Many people were arrested at the same time, about 20 persons. We had to stand trial, though. Teodozy Starak, the future ambassador to Poland, was let free.
I think it’s just by chance that I was tried first in the court proceedings of 1965. I was not meant to be the first. But as the fate would want it a lot of illegal books were brought to my apartment during my absence, while I was on vacation in Feodosia. The year was 1965. Before leaving I have hidden everything, but the guys had keys to my apartment, so they could come in and leave books, temporarily as they assumed, but things turned out differently…
V.K: At the time of the election campaign Teodozy Starak together with Kalynets family and Yu.Shukhevych signed letters of support for Ye.Marchuk.
M.H.: Starak was resettled, he was sent to the camp as far back as 50-s. He was born in 1929. After his time in the camps he was very cautious. He was a very gifted scholar who studied Check and other Slavic languages. A wise man, but a deeply wounded one. Ovsienko here knows well if anyone is eager to go back to jail. It is very tough because you are sure you are going to die there. Can you feel it? You make a step which means the end of your life. You will live in a camp and then die there. It takes patriotism and strong will to make such decision.
Well, Starak returned in 1957. Then he graduated from Slavic languages department and worked in the Polish newspaper "Czerwony sztandar" as he knew Polish well. He mixed with us but not much. So when the pressure started in 1965, he faced the question whether he should go back to prison. He did not want it.
At the first stage of the inquest, for about two weeks, I refused to talk point blank, but when they showed me the evidence, I changed my tactics. I said: "Look, what I did wrong? Is it prohibited by the law? Don’t we enjoy freedom of speech? Right, I was giving him books to read – so what? I did it but I never did anything against soviet power. It is not anti-soviet activity”.
I think my position was rather shaky. During the trials of the early 70-s some guys kept repeating the same. It was just cunning which spread all over Ukraine without any prior agreement…But you feel the best when you say: you are on this side of the barricade, and I am on the other side, so no negotiations are possible…
There was a KGBist – one moment I remember his name, and the next I forget it – remind me, please…I was summoned to him – Klym Halsky was the name. He was the commander of the KGB operative unit. He wrote under the pen-name “Dmytruk” and published a book “Yellow and blue bankrupts.” He used to put stool pigeons into the cells. Vasyl’ knows: “the pigeon” listens in and reports all the talks and state of minds. You know, one returns after an interrogation, relaxes a bit and tells something. I shared a cell with a certain Tsapp, a Jew. In 1961 there was a trial in Lviv on illegal activity in the textile factory. Former intelligence colonel was shot to death. A group of Jews set up a side-line production there. Once that Tsapp started a conversation (he was ordered to do it): you know, I have been to Moscow and I‘ve read in a Moscow magazine a novel”Day and night” by V.Hzhytsky…”Hzhytsky served his term together with Ostap Vishnya. This latter was broken there but Hzhytsky was not. Later he often talked about his imprisonment in public.
Tsapp said Hzhytsky was published in a Moscow magazine. I asked what issue it was. “This summer. I was imprisoned in August”. And in fact Hzhytsky’s novel was published in “Zhovten’” Magazine in May. I thought it would be too soon. It would be impossible unless Hzhytsky had a contract to have the original and the translation to be published at that same time. So I said it was nonsense.
Klym Halsky came to question me. We talked literature with him. I asked him “Klym Yevhenovych! Tell me, please, do you read Moscow magazines?” – “I do.” – ”Have you read August issues?” – “I’ve looked them through”. – “Have you read “Neva”?” – “I have”. – “Have you read “Druzhba narodiv”?” – “I have”. “Novy mir”?” – “Yes”. “Haven’t you noticed an interesting translation from Ukrainian?” – "No, I haven’t”.– "How could you have missed Hzhytsky’s novel “Day and night”, where he tells about the concentration camps of the 40 – 50-s?" – "It cannot be”. – “You’ve looked through August issues, right?” - “I have”. – “Well, Klym Yevhenovych, your agent flunked”. And he answered quite calmly the way seasoned KGBists do – “Well, it happens”.
After that I used to say “That Klym has such authority in the KGB that he does not care a damn who tells him what about a busted agent. - “Well, it happens”.
On my return from the questioning I did not find Tsapp in my cell. He was replaced by another man. And it went on like that permanently.
It was bad enough to be under investigation, especially when you had an enemy right in your cell. He ratted on you and you had to share last piece of bread with that dog, because he got food parcels from KGB only. They were seldom and small. You can’t eat when your cell-mate has nothing. That is how it works.
I think we digressed too far. I forgot what we were talking about.
V.K.: With your permission I wanted to ask: Do you remember people in Russia who first ignited like dry wood, and then somehow disappeared from the scene?
M.H.: Yes, I saw the KGB infiltration into Rukh movement. I noticed it immediately.
While organizing the Unity Chain (and it was my baby, let me stress, I invested a lot of time and energy, even health, to make it happen), I faced opposition, namely Kiev Rukh organization. It united quite serious people: current president of Kiev-Mohyla Academy Bryukhovetksy, academician Popovych, academician Pavlo Kysly. We convened a conference of Kiev Rukh. They claimed the Chain was a provocation, nothing would come out of it and people might be beaten on the way. They were absolutely against it. They wrote a petition, I have it somewhere in my papers. I went to the head of Kiev branch secretariat.(Who was gone two years later, so I don’t see him anymore) and asked him to give me the lists of all the raion Rukh groups in Kiev”. He refused. Well, I was helpless without the lists: I could not put them on the line to cover, let us say, 100 km.
I started looking for people myself, with the help of P.Borsuk and other people. But it was not enough. Eight persons – professors and academicians – wrote a declaration against me in the newspaper I was absolutely certain that I didn’t care whether they were against me, whether the entire Soviet Union or entire world was against me.
So, I thought: to heck with it, I’ll do without Kiev. We had meetings. It was something extraordinary. I led the organizing committee, and I did not have enough seats for all the attendants. Many were standing by the walls. By the way, P.Borsuk was also on the committee. So, they were against, but when the actual Chain was forming, Pavlo Kysly with the institute bus was among the first to join. I was amazed.
Now, to Burlakov. He was the leader of Rukh in the town of Truskavets. In 1991 I officially resigned from the position in the Rukh Secretariat – it was too hard for me. Someone, probably, M.Porovsky, proposed Burlakov for the head. He was a Rukh member, a good organizer. I agreed: “Go ahead. I have nothing against him”. Burlakov was elected the secretariat head. Then presidential elections and referendum came. Diaspora helped a lot. I want to tell you that we have got dozens of computers, several Xeroxes – a lot of office equipment. Our Xerox sat in the Writers’ Union.
At the Congress of 1992 Burlakov approached me and said: “I support you”. I was a bit concerned about his Russian name. Well, take Kipiani, for one, he is ours, he comes from an ethnic minority of the empire. What difference it makes, I thought. Dontsov is also a Russian name.
So we ruled as a triumvirate: Drach, Chornovil and I. Burlakov remained the head of the secretariat…
I was a big advocate of the newly formed Security Service of Ukraine and encouraged our people to go there. Mr.Ovsienko knows it because I stressed it more than once: as the head of the Rukh secretariat I sent a letter to the oblast’ branches to name 10 persons with higher education to be sent to SSU Institute in Kiev.
V.K: I remember I was enlisted too. There was such a letter.
M.H.: I met the Institute Director, a colonel, whose name I don’t remember. We met near the Golden Gate. He said:”I am enlisting 600 students for short-term course and another 600 for five-year course." So one graduates from the secondary school and studies for five more years in the Institute, and if you already have a higher education you study 6 months or a year. All in all, 600 students are to be admitted. The selection was rather rigid – evaluation of the physical condition, as such a person should be athletic, then tests of mental health, memory, orientation skills. One out of 10-12 applicants is admitted. My goodness, so we needed about 8000 applicants. I thought: “If we could place at least hundred people there. Hundred by twelve makes 1200. Therefore, I must have 1200 applicants. We sent out the letters, but nothing came out of it, due to blindness and negligence of our people. My opinion was they didn’t understand, they were afraid to attend such an educational establishment, damn them. We managed to bring together only a couple of dozens of applicants.
V.K: Was it prior to independence or after it was proclaimed?
M.H.: It was after it was proclaimed. These were times when I, as a member of the Supreme Rada commission, participated in KGB liquidation. And what came out of it? Oblast’ Rukh cells sent about 100 people. 12 of those in fact went to work in the SSU. I met one of them recently. But the rest did not go…Being aware of the fact that KGB was to be Ukrainianized, I raised this issue with Marchuk.
But prior to that Chornovil came from Lviv and sail: “Mykhaylo, I want your brother Mykola to become the commander of the SSU in Lviv”. –“And did he agree?”–“Yes”. – “OK, let us arrange a meeting with Marchuk”. In the process of KGB reforming I could go and see Marchuk any time till 9 o’clock in the evening.
I called Mykola in the evening and asked him:”Do you want to do it?” – “Yes”. - “Can you imagine what it is? They will smash you. If you want to go to SSU, you should bring a hundred of your own people whom you will appoint to key positions. Or do you want to work with the old staff?” _ “I will put things in order”.
So, Chornovil and I went to see Marchuk. Chornovil recommended Mykola for the position. Marchuk answered like this: “Once again you want to do it the way communist party CC used to do it – they sent to SSU someone with no experience, so that a man needed 5 years of training. We need professionals. I am against Mykola Horyn’ as the head of SSU for Lviv oblast’”. I said: “Mr. Marchuk, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Mykola is my brother…But I don’t think the SSU commander of an oblast’ level should be a professional. He is to be a conscious politician, able of devising the main trends of work for organization with several thousand of staff. It is up to a politician, not a specialist! And it is up to his deputies to develop appropriate technologies”.
Things did not turn out our way. Later another man approached us, the head of Ivano-
Frankivsk oblast’ administration, deputy of the Supreme Rada Stepan Volovetsky. I wanted him to be the first deputy of the SSU commander on personnel issues. It was the first priority. But we failed with Stepan as well. It came to nothing but further discussions and talks with Marchuk.
In early March 1992 a group of Supreme Rada deputies – members of the People’s Rada, recommended Burlakov to Security Service of Ukraine. I came to see Marchuk once more. By that time I already headed the Rukh political council: “Mr.Marchuk, we have Burlakov as the secretariat head. Could you consider appointing him to work in SSU? He is smart; he knows how to work with documents and how to organize work. He might be useful for SSU”. “ I have to consider it. Check should be done on him. It takes about half-a-year.” – “Will you be checking his ancestry up to the tenth generation?” It was just a joke. But a few months later Viktor started working in SSU. First, if I am not mistaken, he was the deputy commander of the unit five (it was sort of political police, later renamed to “Constitution protection department”). One should be at least, a colonel or even a general to hold this office…
He worked in SSU for a longer period of time. He was the advisor to the commander V.Radchenko. Now, to my knowledge, he does not work there any more.
V.O.: I heard he was writing his dissertation now.
M.H.: He writes beautifully, his articles are very good.
V.K.:Thank you, Mr.Horyn’, but I’ve got to run - tomorrow the new issue of the newspaper is to come out.
M.H.: And what is the newspaper?
V.K: I work in “Kiev Vedomosti”…
M.H.: Look, it was in this newspaper that Oles’ Buzyna published his lampoon “Shevchenko the vampire” in. Two days ago someone took my newspaper with Buzyna’s libels about Mazepa, who, allegedly, was a mere wino, but was considered a polyglot. He simply was dead drunk after Poltava defeat and could not put two and two together. And he wrote this about a person whom even Peter the Great treated with due respect…All Buzyna knows is that Mazepa got drunk after the defeat. (Which is quite possible). But Mazepa was not a rake, he was an intellectual. Compared to him Peter was nothing. Mazepa managed to cheat him as a simpleton and Peter believed him to the last moment. And Buzyna knows only that he used to drink vodka! I wonder about this Oles’ – why does he choose only facts like this?
V.K.: Some people go in for literary provocations, others – for political provocations, and he deals in journalistic provocations. I understand that it is painful for the patriotically-minded Ukrainians, especially when Shevchenko is attacked. Adequate polemics should follow such escapades – not at the level of “Literaturna Ukraina”….
SUMMING UP ….
M.H.: Our political forces, different as they are, have no instruments to influence the government or President it their actions are not right. They cannot create an impetus for the politicization of the Ukrainian society. Political parties do nothing to establish themselves as significant forces. Their main feature is their hopeless sloth. And it is not a groundless accusation. Visiting places I ask party members how often they conduct their meetings, how often their party cell gets together to discuss the current events or at least to review the political situation – once a week, once a month, once every two weeks. As a rule the grassroots organization all the way to the oblast’ levels convene only for annual conferences, slumbering like dormice the rest of the time. And it is typical of the overwhelming majority of the Ukrainian political structures. Giving their time for political activities, partisan propaganda among the voters has not become a norm for the political structures in Ukraine, regardless of their leftist or rightist affiliations.
That is why serious influence of the political parties on political life of Ukraine today is out of question. The debates in the Supreme Rada are storms in a glass of water. These storms should embrace the whole Ukraine to say “no” to crime, “no” to the russification of the Ukrainian people.
Here are the numbers reflecting educational level in Ukraine as of 1999. This statistics makes me shudder. Sebastopol – 98.8% of schools are Russian-language, Crimea– 98.1%, Donetsk – 90%, Luhansk – 86.8%, Zaporizhzhya – 61.9%, Odessa – 60.9%, Kharkiv – 53.1%, Dnipropetrovsk– 40.8% etc. Can you imagine the level of russification? In Donetsk Ukrainians account for 52% of the population and they have only 10% of schools, in Luhansk they also account for more than 50%, and have 13.2% of schools, so the russification pressure is tremendous and it will take ages to get rid of it.
I think Ukrainian national idea has not won the minds of the Ukrainian people. Administrators in the oblasts have not become Ukrainianized. They are just bureaucrats from former soviet times implementing pro-Russian policies. If the President is currently unable or unwilling to pay due attention to the educational process in Ukraine, in ten years we shall face lamentable situation. The students of today will become the rulers of the state.
Moreover, in these 10% of Ukrainian schools in Donets students speak predominantly Russian, and so do the teachers. I observe this phenomenon in Kiev schools as well when I make presentations there. The situation is very difficult – the majority speaks Russian on the street, on the trolley-buses, buses and metro. I can be asked: “What is your point in referring to that? It is not a crucial issue; we have to restore the economy first”. To restore economy for whom? The werewolves? For the janissaries? For the people absolutely indifferent to the problems of Ukraine?
Two or three days ago I attended a two-day conference organized by the National Institute of the Ukrainian-Russian research. The avalanche of presentations supporting russification was so overwhelming that I was simply stunned. M.Shulga who had become a doctor of sociology (and used to be the head of the sovereignty commission, where I worked as a head of a sub-commission) – made a presentation in which he argued that it is a normal process. If in 1994 during sociological survey in Kiev 56% of respondents requested questionnaires in Ukrainian, in 1999 this figure dropped to 49.1%. Ukrainian independent state tolerates russification even now! There are no obstacles or dams precluding the russification attack on Ukraine. It is a tragedy and it is a disaster. I believe that political structures must deal with these issues, instead of sitting in their offices and playing board games in lieu of political games. That is basically all I wanted to say.
We have Ukraine, but it is not completely Ukrainian; we have government, but government speaks foreign language as well. We have Presidential structures, but they are non-Ukrainian by half. In the nearest future the destiny of Ukraine will be entrusted to people whose command of Ukrainian language is no better than that of the today’s bureaucrats.
No state, no national entity is possible without the language.
The French adopted a special law in defense of the French language. Recently I read in “Vechirni Kyiv” that the Poles passed the law under which all the signs of the industries, companies and public places in languages other than Polish are banned. If a businessman gave his business an English name he pays a substantial fine. The Poles protect their language from Anglicization. The Ukrainians, instead, let loose two huge streams: Russian on the one hand, and English, on the other. I ask: what is shop? What is shop, what is pizza? What are many other things? When the Czechs sensed that they were swamped by the German language wave, they replaced even theater with “divadlo”.
Economic development should go hand in hand with language development. Without it Ukrainian independent state cannot exist. But language building should be informal, because it is accompanied by the upbringing of the Ukrainian patriots. And the education of the next generation in the spirit of patriotism so far is, as Galician people say “going to the dogs”. The school does not cultivate the system of values based on patriotism and love of Motherland as supreme values. It is just by the way…”What’s the difference, what language one speaks – human decency and honesty are more important! And the language chosen…”
Issues of economics, of language development, of education, of making the ruling authorities speak national language…We cannot hope that Ukrainian national interests will be defended if the army is headed by Russian speaking generals and the whole army is Russian-speaking. And what about the possibility of armed conflict with our Northern neighbor? It is very real.
These matters are important. The President started with charging the Constitutional Court with the task of passing a law on the official language which is Ukrainian. But Azarov, for one, was recommended for the position of Prime Minister, and in the course of 9 years he had never bothered to learn Ukrainian…How is he supposed to rule the great Ukrainian state? – a foreigner speaking and thinking in a foreign language?
I think in my age I can say what I want and, finally, speak openly.
V.O.: Mr.Horyn’, what would you like to say summarizing your life experience?
M.H.: I would say I am not quite happy with it. I did not make the use of my modest gifts to full extent. Due to lack of internal organization many children of mine – I mean my ideas – were still-born and never transformed into words on paper.
For my entire life I carried a heavy burden of working in numerous public organizations, in Rukh, in my party, in “Ukraina” society, in the World Coordination Council, in the Supreme Rada. All that work prevented me from sitting down every evening and putting down all the events. I have tons of note-books but they are not edited. If I were told to publish them the way Vynnytchenko did – I would not be able to do it.
I believe I have done in my life whatever I could. Now it is high time for summing up. The results are not very optimistic. On the other hand, they are not so bad as to make me upset. What I feel is sorrow that I failed to give all I had to the cause. Other people managed to do it, but I was somewhat lacking. Let other people be judges of that.
V.O.: And, anyway, with total sincerity, you can confirm that your generation, and you as a part of it, was happier than the one before it. Not only you have seen Ukraine independent within your lifetime, but you have also contributed to it.
M.H.: Mr. Ovsienko introduced an optimistic element into my narration, arguing that something has been done, after all. I agree. Our dreams came true, at least, to a certain extent. The idea nurtured by people in the former decades, which cost them their lives, was somehow implemented by us and led to the proclamation of the independent Ukraine on August 24, 1991. But I am talking about the requirements towards myself. What I am saying is I am 70 years old and to account for it. I should have placed ten books on this table – but I don’t have them! That is my point, my critical attitude towards me and my place in the social process.
Sure, I am far from devastating self-criticism. No doubt, I played my role in the 60-s, as well as in the 70-s and the 80-s. But it was sort of one-way street, and the chronicles of those times are not written yet. And time is running short; the days grow short in autumn…
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