PRYHODKO Grygoriy Andriyovych
author: Vasyl Ovsiyenko
Ovsienko V.V.: on 20th January 2000 Grigory Prihodko speaks about his release.
Pryhodko G.A.: We were released on 8th July 1988. We were on zone №35, sitting each in a single cell (Colony of special regime VS-389/35, Ural, Perm region, Vsehsviatska station. – V.O.) In the afternoon the major of KGB comes into the cell and says: “Grigory, get ready for transportation”. I ask: “What happened?” He replies: “You are getting released”. I ask: “For what reason? Who releases me? My term has not ended”. – “I know nothing. I was said to take you to the watch”. He went out. Using “the phone” I call to Niklus, tell him: “Mart, listen what happened…” He says: “I’ve been already told. I am preparing. So is Romashov”.
So, three of us are released. We are taken to the watch. Question number one – for what reason are we released? They show us the order of minister for foreign affairs. We read it and say: “Excuse me, but the minister of foreign affairs cannot release us – we have got sentences”. Then they hand us that order, give to read by ourselves and it says: “On the basis of USSR Supreme Court decision on clemency”. – “But why? Who asked for that?” They say: “We know nothing. And now take off your robes. Here, take the hospital gown, slippers” (two sizes smaller). We changed our clothes and got pushed out of there. We went out. I was given approximately 7 rubles, or something like that, Mart and Niklus had a bit more. The same for Romashov, he had about 10 rubles. For that we could only effort our way to Moscow. Well, Romashov was travelling to Gorky, but me and Niklus to the Moscow. We went out and the first thought was to dinner in village’s canteen. But in spite of wandering through that village we couldn’t find any open canteen or shop. So we had nothing to do but to wait for the bus and go to the railway terminal. And so we went.
On Sunday Niklus and I arrived to Moscow. Mart brought 11 boxes of newspaper cutouts. When we got out of the train I helped Mart to carry those boxes. That is done and we have to get to Leningradsky railway terminal. We catch the taxi and ask the driver how much does it cost. He says: 25 rubles. Well, we couldn’t pay that much. Then Mart stays by the boxes and I go to militioners, three of them pass by, I come up to them in the same hospital gown and ask how to get to Leningradsky railway terminal. One of them asks: “By the way, where are you from?” I say: “By the way we are from institution №35” – “Oh, in that case here is the terminal, 100 meters further.”
Mart and I carried his belongings, those boxes mostly, because we had nothing else with us. Mart also brought two or three sets of that striped robe, I can’t imagine how he did it. We brought all that to the Leningradsky railway terminal and put to the baggage room. I phoned to Sakharov. He invited us. We came. Stayed at Larisa Bogoraz’s apartment.
And the next day we went to Tartu – Mart suggested: “Let’s have a trip to see the place”. In the morning Mart looks out of the window and says: “We arrived – it’s almost the railway terminal!” The train stopped. We walk out. Mart gets on the platform and I hand him the boxes. Someone takes the boxes; I hardly understand who it is. When all the boxes are handed I come out. I look around and see the crowd; I see lots of Estonian national flags! Can’t understand where they got from. I look and see that Mart has already been surrounded. Some man is holding a tray with glasses, with champagne. The microphone is standing nearby. Mart starts his speech.
Andriyana: The national hero.
Pryhodko G.A.: I am also led to the microphone, they give me champagne. I am totally confused, have absolutely no idea where I am and what is happening. Then we walk to the station square, and again Mart is giving a speech there. I am given the microphone too but I’m so perplexed that don’t even know what to say. I refuse to speak and am still disoriented. The Estonians carry Mart on hands from station square home. We come to his house and only after that the Estonians begin to dismiss. Mart’s mother greets us at home, sets a breakfast table and so on.
Andryiana: Mr. Vasyl, we have photographs.
Pryhodko G.A.: I was so astonished! I ask Mart: “What’s happening? Don’t we have the Soviet government anymore? How can this be true?” He answers: “No, everything is just normal, that’s the way we live.” Later we are said to go to Tallinn. And I’m still wearing that gown; Mart changed his clothes at home and I’m still in the hospital one. So we go to the store to buy me a suit. We bought the shoes, the mesh shoes, as they call them, while being in Moscow because those, which I was given, were two sizes smaller. So I left them there. We went to Tallinn by car.
I and Mart are brought to Tallinn. The car door opens, we come out. The crowd greets us again. Some woman comes up to me and attaches a blue and yellow stripe to my shirt. That impresses me so much that I can hardly speak, I don’t know what to say. Then we are led somewhere again. The film studio. Mart is shot. And again we walk somewhere, drive somewhere. The demonstration, lots of people. Mart speaks. I speak too, I am telling something.
Those were crazy days. That’s how striking it was. I saw that the Estonians had already been independent. Definitely, they have already been an independent nation; they had no Soviet government, absolutely. The political prisoners, who got released by that time, ran the meetings and demonstrations, organized strikes against Soviet military base, and demanded its removal. No one arrested them, no one chased, people respected them instead, and there was such cheerful, such sublime atmosphere throughout all Estonia, that was incredible! When Mart and I arrived to Tallinn in the morning we were received a telegram from Mykhaylo Horyn. Mykhaylo wrote: “Grigory, that’s enough wandering along the foreign land, come back to Lviv”.
Andryiana: They invited you to stay, didn’t they?
Pryhodko G.A.: No, no. They didn’t invite me to stay, but I could manage to go to Lviv only on the sixth day. They simply didn’t allow me to go earlier. And when I finally packed my bad and insisted on going as someone was waiting for me one family invited us for a dinner and I was asked to stay for one more night. So I stayed. The next day we were invited for another dinner and I was given Ukrainian flag as a present.
Andryiana: We still have that flag.
Pryhodko G.A.: Women embroidered that flag. We keep it. I took it to Lviv with me.
At last I went to Lviv. Came to Lviv. The rain was drizzling. I went out of the train. Mykhaylo Horyn was standing on a platform holding an umbrella. We went to his place. Ate a dinner, later ate the supper. On the second day (but I don’t remember exactly) Bogdan Horyn joined us. They had already been conducting discussions with those comsomols, something like a discussion club.
Osienko V.V.: By that time we had already started to conduct meetings and discussions.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, there were meetings. And they even organized a discussion club. Our people were Horyn, Slavko Chornovil and Mrs. Kalyntseva (Iryna Kalynets. – V.O.) All together. And there was comsomol. And there were the discussions. Hogdan headed them on our behalf. Once Bogdan said: “Let’s go there, to the “Hide Park” (it was a square nearby the University) and before that let’s go to the discussion club, because the place is booked for the meeting.” We come there and it is closed, no comsomols around. Then Bogdan said: “Let’s go to Hide park and conduct a meeting there”.
We went there and the improvised meeting gathered at once, approximately 500 people were there. I was given a word on that meeting. I shared my impressions after visiting Estonia, because I really was under strong impression. I memorized it as a dream. That’s how a got released. Then I got an invitation to Kiev (can’t remember on which day of July) by reason of a strike where people demanded to release those who still remained on zone №35. I arrived there and on the day of strike (24th July 1988. – V.O.) I and Eugene Pronyuk went to his mother-in-law and ate Ukrainian borsch there.
Ovsienko V.V.: In Baumaunsk in Sviatoshyn?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, so we got out of the bus or whatever we were going by, I don’t remember well…
Ovsienko V.V.: It seems to me that the trolleybus goes there.
Pryhodko G.A.: I remember it to be a bus. And so we come out of the hut with Eugene, drive to the street, look around and see that all roads are blocked. Volga cars were blocking the traffic. I say: “Eugene, who do you think they are waiting for?” he says: “Let’s go and check”. We walk to the bus, come up to the bus stop and I hear somebody shouting on the left: “Grigory Andriyovich, wait a second!” I turn around and look. A forty-year-old man in a shirt, everything happens in summer, is running towards me. I am standing still, I have no idea what is happening and why that man is running. And suddenly someone twists my hands on the back and a second later I appear in the air. Another second later I sit in the paddy wagon and my suitcase is thrown to my legs as I was holding it while standing. And the militia-guys rush into as well. It was such a classical method that I burst to laugh saying: “Guys, please, take my compliment to your professionalism”. What a skill to do all that in a moment. I laughed at myself because I should have realized that each time I see “Volgas” blocking the street and someone calls me it means that they came for me. During the way I heard…
Ovsienko V.V.: What happened to Pronyuk?
Pryhodko G.A.: Pronyuk was left there. When the car started he yelled: “Take me too!” But who will take him? (Laughing). He stayed. And I was taken. An officer with a radiotelephone is sitting beside me and I hear him naming the street we are passing by. Someone says to him: “Go to Okruzhna Street!” He replies: “Why? We can quickly get through the center”. “Execute the order”. That officer turns off the telephone and speaks to the driver: “Are they mad? Why should we drive such a long way when we can quickly skip through the center? But an order is an order so turn to Okruzhna Street.” And we drove somewhere. I had absolutely no idea where I was taken to.
The arrival. Some kind of militia reception center. Some sort of a militia institution. They take me inside and begin to search. They took my documents, took my money. The interrogation starts: “Who are you?” – “You have my documents, my passport and my release card”. – “We will check whether you have been imprisoned in Perm or not” – “But there’s a document with a stamp” – “No, you could forge it, we will make a call.” It was Saturday afternoon which means that the working day was over, everyone understood that”.
He calls to Perm. They answer him that nobody is there on the weekend. So they put me into a cell to wait till Monday when the workers in Perm will be at work and they will be able to find out whether I was imprisoned there.
Obviously, I declared a hunger strike from the very beginning.
The next day they put me into a paddy wagon and drive somewhere. We arrive to a district prosecutor.
It was Sunday. There were two militia officers and a prosecutor. The officers introduced me. The prosecutor asks what happened. I say: “I don’t know what happened. I’ve been released, they have the documents. I am released and am on my way to my friends. I don’t have an apartment yet and don’t have a registration neither. I came to Kiev and I’m thinking to stay here. I have friends here. But these militia officers grabbed me.” So I told him the truth as it was. The prosecutor says: “Go to the corridor”. I go to the corridor and in about few minutes those officers come, take me and say: “Let’s go!” – “Where?” – “To release you”. - “Why?” – “The prosecutor does not give a warrant”. When they said that the prosecutor didn’t give a warrant I understood that something had changed in Ukraine as well, there was no more regime. How could it be that the prosecutor, the district prosecutor does not give a warrant for arrest such a nasty recidivist, an especially dangerous state criminal?! How can it be true?! But the prosecutor really gave no warrant and the officers had nothing to do but to release me. They gave me back my money, just deducted 13 rubles for the train ticket – they decided to send me to Dnepropetrovsk, told me that I had nothing to do in Kiev. They made that decision without my agreement. And that is how they took me to Dnepropetrovsk.
Ovsienko V.V.: Did they take you up to the railway station or put you in a train?
Pryhodko G.A.: They put me in a train. Two men were sitting next to me till the destination, till I got on the platform. Considering the reason for that arrest… previously, when I was in Kiev, Ivan Sokulsky’s wife arrived to Kiev.
Ovsienko V.V.: Mrs. Orysia.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, and I was walking along the city with her for about three hours. I told her everything because I and Ivan were condemned under the same article and were imprisoned together. I knew all that. We were walking somewhere along the bank of Dnipro river (The left bank. – V.O.), there was a concrete block there; we sat on it half-turned to each other because it had such a round shape. So we are sitting and talking there. Suddenly I hear a voice behind my back: “Good day, Grigory Andriyovich!” I turn around and see colonel Honchar in civilian clothing. I say: “What’s the matter, colonel?” Orysia also turned around: “Who is he, Mr. Grigory?” I answer: “It is colonel Honchar”. And there was another one wearing civilian clothes.
Andriyana: KGB colonel. (Honchar supervised Ukrainian political prisoners in the camps, he came to Mordovia and Ural from Kiev, called prisoners for an interview and instructed the administration regarding each prisoner. – V.O.)
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, and so there was another one in civilian clothes, I didn’t know him. Honchar said: “Come with us to our institution”. – “You mean KGB?” – “Yes”. – “Well, you already know that I never appear at KGB without handcuffs and rifles”. That young one still stands nearby. I ask Honchar: “Who is your friend?” And he replies by himself: “I am KGB captain from Dnepropetrovsk”. It was clear that he came for me. And while talking to Honchar we gradually start arguing because Honchar accuses me of going to Tartu after my release. I ask him: “Is that your business? You know that USSR Supreme Council pardoned me, don’t you? I am released. I am a free man. Why do I have to explain you my visit to Tartu?”
That was our conflict which could easily turn into a fight, very easily. Orysia grabbed my hand. And Honchar was pushed by that captain who then stood up between us. It came to that. The conflict ended up when Honchar left. I and Orysia returned to Oles Shevchenko. And the next day I was caught and sent out from Kiev.
There was another curious episode after my release. It happened when Mart and I were in Moscow. We arrived there on Sunday and stayed for a night. The next day Mart and I went to the Supreme Court to find out on which basis the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR pardoned us, because none of our relatives wrote an “asking letter”, we didn’t allow them to do that, and we didn’t write it neither.
Andriyana: Did they let you come into the Supreme Court?
Pryhodko G.A.: We came to the Supreme Court waiting room. Asked where we can get that information. And we were answered: “You know, we don’t deal with such cases. The General Public Prosecutor’s Office does.” Mart and I went there. Contacted them by phone first. The public prosecutor from a department of supervision on our category came to us and that’s how he answered our question: “Presidium of the Supreme Soviet granted you a pardon according to the request of the General Prosecutor”. But why did the General Prosecutor requested for us? That man wasn’t going to talk a lot, he just said: “Guys, everything will be different in about three years – for God’s sake, such things will disappear, calm down and go home. Nobody is going to arrest you, nobody cares about you”. (Laughing). So we went away. And that’s what happened to colonel Honchar in Ukraine.
I arrived to Dnepropetrovsk. Came out of the train. I hardly know this city, I’ve forgotten that the City Council is near the railway station. I step up on the platform thinking to take a taxi. I look around and see the only taxi. The whole place is empty except for a single taxi. I am in dark glasses, dressed quite presentably, holding a suitcase in my hand; I come up to that man and say: “Can you take me to the City Council?” He says: “Sit down”. I sat. We go in silence. He suddenly asks: “Did you come to remove Boyko?” Boyko was the first secretary of the city party committee.
Andriyana: What an outfit you had!
Pryhodko G.A.: I answered him in the same manner: “No, not him. We would better remove Shcherbytsky”. He takes me to the City Hall. I come out. Walk through the building, have my way to the Head’s office. The secretary sits and doesn’t stop me. The doors are open. I walk in. The head of the City Council, Mr. Pustovoitenko as I remember, is sitting on his place and two other men are standing beside. They all look at me. I came in. Introduce myself. Show them my certificate of release. The head asks: “What do you want from us?” I say: “An apartment”. He says: “At the moment we have no apartment to give you but if you find one we can easily register you there”. I turn around and go away. And I still need to get an official detachment from Dnepropetrovsk as Mykhailo Horyn and I made an agreement that he would settle me at his mother’s house in Khodoriv. But to settle somewhere I need to take a detachment from Dnepropetrovsk because I am officially sent here. From there I go straight to militia office and require locating in the “Ukrayina” hotel. The militia major immediately calls to the “Ukrayina” hotel as they had no rooms when I came. They told me to come. I came and the room was found at once.
The next day I went to district prosecutor who supervised our inquest. He recognized me; we had such a nice talk. He questioned me: “How is Ivan Sokulsky?” Because there were a lot of troubles with him, he was rather active during the arrest and in the Court. So they remembered us. I told him about my problem, that I need an official detachment. He said frankly: “Only with a warrant of KGB”. I asked him for some help. He called to Dnepropetrovsk KGB office and said to me: “Be there at two o’clock, they will be waiting for you, use the phone and the lieutenant colonel will meet you”. I was there by two. A man in civilian clothes met me. He introduced himself – it was a lieutenant colonel, head assistant in regional KGB office. And I repeated my request to get a detachment, to give me an opportunity to leave Dnepropetrovsk. He started urging me not to do it. Tried to persuade me that there was already a democratic regime in Dnepropetrovsk, not that kind of totalitarism, told that everything was great. Told me that they will help me to register in any apartment I can find, and also to find a job. I had only one question: “Excuse me, where is Khripkov now?” He replies: “He serves here”. I say: “How do you think, what will happen if I see Khripkov on the street? Are you sure I won’t kill him?” He thought for a moment and said: “You know, come back tomorrow at two o’clock and I will give you an answer”.
Ovsienko V.V.: Who is Khripkov?
Pryhodko G.A.: He was a KGB captain who investigated my case. He interrogated me by himself. Ivan was interrogated by lieutenant colonel Shkonda and I was by Khripkov. In fact, he rigged my case. He and Shkonda did it. After independence was declared the union of officers in Dnepropetrovsk discovered that by that time lieutenant colonel Khripkov had been a colonel of KGB and continued to serve there.
I returned there on the next day, returned to KGB. The same man came to me, he introduced himself as a lieutenant colonel as he wasn’t wearing a uniform. He said that got an approval to give me a detachment. He said: “Go to that very District Department, to the same major, he will put a stamp”. I go there to that major. He says: “I need to know the address of your destination”. But I didn’t know the address where Horyn’s mother lived. We agreed that I would call to Lviv, find out the address and the next day come and tell him.
In the evening I go to the negotiating point. Mykhailo didn’t have a telephone but Bogdan did. I call. Bogdan picks up the receiver. I start talking: “Bogdan tell me please your mother’s address”. Bogdan replies: “Khodoriv…” – and connection is offline. I use another public phone, and when Bogdan names the street the connection breaks again. It took me a lot of time to understand which district it was. He says: “Zhidakivsky district”, but I can’t understand whether he said correctly.
Andriyana: Yes, there is such district.
Pryhodko G.A.: Well, I changed about 20 public phones till finally understood. Bogdan even tried to adapt, he shouted: “Khodoriv, …street” as soon as I called him. Finally I got the number of the house. The next day I was given a detachment. I went to Lviv.
Though I came to Lviv, I didn’t become the local at once – it was a long way to go through. I came to Khodoriv at first. Mykhailo brought me. Mrs. Stephania agreed to settle me, she gave me a room. Everything is as it should be. A nice house and a nice place. I start to register there. At first it goes well. On the fourth or fifth day Mrs. Stephania came in and said that some militia car arrived. While I was going to them they had already came into the house. They offered me to join them to the department. Not a district department but a city one, the Khodoriv department. There was one of their offices.
We arrive there. I am led to the room. The militia captain sits there, he introduced himself as a District Office Superior, and some man in civilian clothes is sitting opposite to him. The captain says that he can’t register me because Zhidakivsky district is a closed zone. And I argue that it’s not true. I insist on registration. I have rather peaceful talk with that captain. He refers to some standards. Same do I. Suddenly, the man in civilian clothes tells me: “You were said that you won’t live here!” I turn to him and ask: “Excuse me, but who are you?” – “Do I have to tell you who I am?” I turn back to captain and say: “Captain, please, could you lead that hooligan out of here”. Right after that the captain pushes me out. I got out. These officers, who brought me here, were still waiting in the corridor. The captain quickly told them something. And so they return me to Mrs. Stephania’s place.
I pack my bags and they take me to Lviv. I ask: “Who was that man in civilian clothes?” The Officers answer: “How could you talk to him like that, that was a colonel”. Right now I can’t remember his surname but it was the deputy commandant of Department of Internal Affairs of that district. I say: “He should have put on his badges of rank, how could I know that he is a colonel. I spoke to him the same manner as he did”.
We took a bus to Lviv. Got out of the bus. And those two officers say: “Now you should go back to that colonel with us”. I ask: “Then why did you take me out of Khodoriv? And why do I have to go to that colonel?” – “He told us that he wanted to talk to you”. I say: “But I don’t want to talk to him. And we’ve already talked about everything”. The officers don’t know what to do with me. To use force? But there was no reason for that. I say to them: “Guys, thanks for conducting me. That’s all, return back home. You are dismissed. I don’t need you anymore”.
I went to Mykhailo again. But thence I had to abscond. I couldn’t stay at one place for more than 7 days. There was an imminent threat of arrest, I could be judged for violation of passport regime. I wasn’t registered anywhere. A year passed. My wife strived instead of me. And a year later – am I right? – in June 1989 the warrant register suddenly appeared. But I spent a year in those conditions.
Ovsienko V.V.: You were talking about your wife, but was it possible for you to issue your marriage without a registration?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes.
Ovsienko V.V.: How did you manage to do it?
Pryhodko G.A.: Easily. I had a passport. It was 1988. We were given the passports after the release.
Andriyana: Do you remember how many times we were attending that Passport Office commandant?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, we attended him a lot of times.
Andriyana: Mr. Vasyl, can you imagine them walking in and taking him away, they keep him somewhere and say: “You have no right to live here”.
Pryhodko G.A.: You know, that totalitarian, or repressive regime, I mean the Soviet one, it hasn’t ended yet. Hasn’t ended, though it steps back gradually. Take, for example, the militia supervision on me. Because I was released and put under the supervision. I don’t know who gave a warrant on that as I haven’t seen any resolution of these measures though there has to be a resolution, and I have to be familiar with it, the attorney has to sign it as it should be according to the law.
Ovsienko V.V.: The supervision is set due to the registration.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, I had already been registered here and I was under the supervision. The militia came every week, checking whether I was at home, whether I still lived there and was I at home at 6 p.m. That lasted till the second part of 1992.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ninety two?!
Pryhodko G.A.: 1992. Only after my rehabilitation that militia captain visited me, he was smiling because we both understood that he doesn’t like to supervise me neither; moreover, they all knew that it seemed stupid.
Andriyana: In ninety two? No, not ninety two...
Pryhodko G.A.: In 1992. He came here after my rehabilitation and said: “Grigory Andriyovich, we finally de-registered you from the supervision. The inspection has been cancelled after your rehabilitation”.
Andriyana: So they just de-registered you and didn’t come anymore?
Pryhodko G.A.: They did.
Andriyana: But not that often?
Pryhodko G.A.: He came every week.
Andryiana: But sometimes he even apologized. They started to apologize.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, they did. I saw that it was unpleasant for them. They understood how amiss it was by that time. And the repressive regime, which was established by Soviet government, started to recede slowly and gradually, but it still exists till now. It still exists till now. For example, when I was said that KGB (I mean State Security Service of Ukraine, by that time) stopped working on my case (one of agents told me that) it had already been the December 1992. The December 1992! There was one agent who served in KGB and worked on my case. A young man. Of course, he didn’t tell me that but I could see it as it was too obvious. And in December 1992 I was on a railway station in Kiev and that young man joined me. When we came to the station, he asked me: “Mr. Grigory, do you know what an “Eastern Cross” is?” – “No, I don’t. what is it?” – “It is some organization. I’ve been to KGB Office today and was sent to that organization, to the “Eastern Cross”. I even asked: “What about Mr. Grigory?” And they replied: “Mr. Grigory is not dangerous for us anymore”. That’s how in December 1992 I found out that Mr. Marchyk and all his group had not considered me to be dangerous anymore. To tell the truth, I really wasn’t dangerous by that time, although the disablement was ascertained a bit later. But physically I already constituted no menace. That’s how it was.
Ovsienko V.V.: Your story is very interesting.
Pryhodko G.A.: You know, Mr. Vasyl, if you take any of ours I’m sure his story would be no less interesting. Perhaps, there would be some nuances; that’s for sure.
THE LIFE HAZARD
In November 1988 I was really exhausted. I couldn’t stay for long at the same place because of the imminent threat of arrest due to violation of passport regime. And that was embarrassing, you know. My wife decided to protect me. She arranged to take me a ticket to spa resort. So we went to make a health screening. During the screening the cardiogram showed that I had a preinfarction syndrome. I was hospitalized the same evening and put into intensive care of Emergency Department. Though I had a preinfarction syndrome my condition was safe. I recovered soon and left the hospital.
I had diseases even before. In jail I obtained a vascular disease and it had progressed. I got an advice to threat my vessels somehow because of their dangerous condition. I was admitted to a vascular surgery. The doctors examined me and agreed that they have to operate on the aorta. And I had to undergo one procedure – roentgenoscopy. This procedure is administering a radiocontrast liquid into the aorta by inserting a needle through person’s back. It spreads into blood and after making an X-Ray the places where vessels are overlapped are accurately seen on the picture. The procedure takes about 15 minutes, but it is really unpleasant, really. But I have no fears. It is possible to bear it even without narcosis, without anything. Well, it’s a bit unpleasant. And when the X-Ray is done you have to drink water permanently for two hours to get rid of that radiocontrast liquid. So Andriana brought me 6 bottles of mineral water and I went on the procedure. They made me an injection in a medical box. Probably it was some kind of drug for me to loose senses a little bit. They put me into a vehicle.
Andriyana: Not in the medical box but in a room.
Pryhodko G.A.: In a room. Put me into a vehicle and take to X-Ray closet. And I notice some curious things. We get to that X-Ray closet. They offer me to go to the corridor and sit on a chair near the closet’s door. I sat. But being affected by that injection, probably the drug because my condition was so….
Pryhodko G.A.: Relaxing. So I sit like that. Look around – the door opens. The nurse throws the pack of bed-linen on the floor a meter away from me. I look closer. My brain still works a little; I think: “The psychological testing, the psychological testing”. I hear the talk in the X-Ray closet. Two men are talking. One asks: “Who is brought?” Another one answers: “Prihodko”. The first one asks: “Oh, the same Prihodko? Well, get him inside”. They lead me to X-Ray closet. It is a large room because a huge machine is standing there. I lie on a table under that machine. The doctor starts to pierce my back to administer that radiocontrast liquid. Surprisingly I feel one pierce after another….Soon I lost count. Later my wife counted 26 pricks on my back. I notice that time passes by. 15 minutes are long gone. I’ve been there for about an hour. I say: “Doctor, if it doesn’t work out maybe we should leave it over until next time?” He replies arrogantly: “We know what to do”. And after those words a minute later I felt a sudden faintness, my hands diminished. Forcing my will I managed to shout the last thing: “I don’ allow you, doctor!” That was it – I lost my conciseness.
When I regained senses I felt pricks, lots of pricks made one after another. I couldn’t open my eyes but my brain had already been working, hearing resumed. I hear a deep-voiced man next to me: “What happened?” Another man replies: “I don’t know. The blood pressure suddenly decreased 5 minutes ago”. I open my eyes – I came back to life. They startled me out of that state. I am brought to the room and put on the bed.
My wife went on some business and I am drinking water. Drank those 6 bottles out. But I don’t get better. The wife came, glanced on me – I was grey. She starts a tumult. It was a problem to find the doctors. She stays night with me, carries me in a vehicle. And in the middle of the night I suddenly feel the lack of oxygen. I start choking. They transfer me to the oxygen box, supply me with oxygen. At 7 a.m. the oxygen ran out. My wife and the nurse, who was on duty, start a scandal, panic, noise. The doctors start gathering. Plenty of doctors. There is some conference. They bring an X-Ray to the oxygen closet, or maybe it was a surgery – I don’t know, to X-Ray me. The X-Ray doesn’t work.
They fumble something on my back and pierce it. Once they did it I start breathing. I am getting better. Then I notice that they’ve collected a three liter jar of liquid. It turned out to be lymph. The doctors pricked a lymph passage.
I was lying in intensive care unit. Later they refused to keep me. Apparently, nobody expected me to survive. To tell the truth, neither did I. The only person who believed in my recovery was my wife, she had to believe… I am carried out of the intensive care and they don’t want to take me to the room, nobody wants to take me. Nobody needs me.
Andriyana: No, later they did take you back to that vascular therapy room.
Pryhodko G.A.: That was the time when my wife rushed to all our friends, to all the doctors for help. Once I saw Doctor Yaroslava Melnychuk-Poluga, who worked at the tuberculosis hospital, walking starkly into the room. I have no idea why she appeared in vascular surgery. Yaroslava gives some commands in a severe voice. Someone brings her a hospital chart and apologizes for some reason. She orders to carry me to the ambulance car. Sits beside me and the ambulance rushes the city with an alarming noise. We arrive to the tuberculosis hospital and they start to treat me. I recover there. I began to move, to walk by myself. But there is an interesting thing! When I was lying in intensive care unit my wife inquired the doctor who made me an X-Ray which food to bring me. He told her: “More fat food”. And so she brought me a lot of fat food. When I got to the tuberculosis hospital the doctor has forbidden me to eat or drink anything. I went on a dry diet. My wife wondered: “What happened?” Doctor explained her: “In such situation if we want to save a patient we have to let the lymph passage repair. Due to that even water is forbidden; patient goes on a dry diet. After the lymph passage is healed we can start giving the patient nonfat food, but only nonfat, for God’s sake, no fat food!” And so they heal me. My lungs are pierced once again. The engine is started, the pump is permanently working. They have drew 9 liters of fluid from my lungs. I was saved. People who contributed my rescue: my wife, who stayed each night beside me, and two doctors from TB hospital: Yaroslava Melnychuk-Poluga and Stephania Gycha, who watched me in turns every day.
Andriyana: They did save you but the evil intension of KGB still existed.
Insertion of G.Prihodko: Yaroslava Melnychuk-Poluga commented on that occasion: “On one of my working days the phone rang. Andriana, Grigory Prihodko’s wife, cried that he is in a dangerous state and that the help is needed immediately. Adam Yulianovich Kletsan, the chief of surgery, accepted my request to transfer him to our hospital, which I immediately did. Thanks to Adam Yulianovich Mr. Prihodko’s life was saved. During his hospital stay the head of department secretly informed me that he was forced to put a healthy KGB agent next to the patient’s bed at the direction of KGB. He warned me because former political prisoners came to visit Mr. Prihodko…” (Yaroslava Melnychuk-Poluga. “The repressed youth”. – Lviv: Lviv City Public Organization “Ukrainian women Union”. Second edition. – 2006. - pp. 115,116).
Pryhodko G.A.: I was saved.
Andriyana: Saved to be murdered.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. During my recovery period one of the doctors came to me and said: “Mr. Grigory, do something! There is a KGB order to make you an oncologic diagnosis and transfer to oncological hospital.
Andriana: No, wait, that was in the end.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, you’re right. I could walk and speak by that time.
Andriyana: Wait, and when you were about to be discharged from the hospital I… His attending physician, a young doctor was about to dismiss him from the hospital. I came up to inquire of everything. He tells me: “I must inform you that your husband is - he bent his head- in a hopeless condition”.
Pryhodko G.A.: I didn’t know that.
Andriyana: An oncologic diagnosis. And you know what I say, Mr. Vasyl? I’ve always had such an aggressive temper, warlike one, and some hope, some kind of rigidity. I say: “I don’t believe you”. Instead of falling into despair. I didn’t say anything to Grigory. He had to be discharged the same day. I rushed from work to inquire of him. Didn’t tell him anything. Then went back to work. He discharged by himself. He came just before the New Year Eve, in the end of the year. And I didn’t tell him anything for two years. With the help of Vasyl Barladian, who visited us, after the New Year we…
Pryhodko G.A.: He involved a herbalist, found him in Odessa.
Andriyana: Yes, the herbalist lived here for two weeks. Treated him with plants. We still have some treatment plants left. Grigory wondered: “Who is that man who lives at our house?” I answered: “He is going to the Carpathian mountains, he is a herbalist”. He forced a special diet on Grigory, cooked it for two weeks by himself. Eventually, I couldn’t tell my husband the truth, the same as Vasyl. With fear-filled memories I thought of that oncologic diagnosis that they made him. We still keep that hospital discharge documentation.
Pryhodko G.A.: It took me six years to find out that they wrote an oncologic diagnosis into my discharge documentation. Andriana didn’t show it to me so I didn’t know it. When she did I laughed out loud and said not to show it again.
Andriyana: Wait, but you told me that KGB informed you about that diagnosis.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes.
Andriyana: Here is what he told me: “That’s what we discharge him with so you should go there, to the specific hospital”. It is the way we call an oncological hospital.
Pryhodko G.A.: They wrote it in my hospital discharge documentation, nevertheless, nobody advised me to go to oncological hospital. None of those doctors advised me that. As I discharged, the department head and the doctor, who treated me, commanded me to attend them every month to undergo medical tests like X-Ray and so on. And so I did, it lasted for two months. I saw that they worried during my medical tests, both Mrs. Yaroslava and Mrs. Stephania, those doctors. When I came there for the last time…
Andriyana: When they did that X-Ray?
Pryhodko G.A.: X-Ray. Right. After the X-Ray the department head assistant led me to the head of the hospital. Brought me to his office and showed him the X-Ray picture. He took it to the light. He examines it (and there is a name on it). He finished looking at the picture. Glanced at me and says: “Is it the same Prohodko?” Another one replies: “Yes”. And that head of the hospital says: “Well, if he is alive then God really exists”. After that we went downstairs and came to his office, we continued discussing that topic. I say: “I am grateful to you for saving me”. I explained that I was familiar with the situation, I’d been intimidated by KGB even before. I ask: “What would you advise me?” He answered the following: “I will only ask you not to make a din. Understand, we saved you, but don’t provoke them or we will have to pay for this”. Besides, you will prove nothing. For us it is clear that it was an attempt to murder. Maybe someday the Court will discover that such accident ever happened”.
Andriyana: They pierced a tiny vessel that produces lymph. It is situated behind the spine. It is the lymphatic vessel. There is a specific medical name for it. Eventually, it is almost impossible to prick it with needle.
Pryhodko G.A.: That’s what I’m saying, I had 26 pricks on my back.
Andriyana: But Mr. Vasyl, you should understand that Mr.Prihodko is quite an unusual man. When he was obtaining documented disability he made an X-Ray of the spine and it happened, that one vertebra is missing and one…how to call it…
Pryhodko G.A.: Disc
Andriyana: And one disc is missing, it dissolved. And secondly he has a spinal curvature. Maybe it is really some fatal coincidence. Maybe there is nobody to blame. And considering that oncologic diagnosis, who knows, maybe that herbalist actually helped. Maybe there really was some fallacy of you staying alive.
Pryhodko G.A.: Everything seems rather unambiguous to me. I had no oncologic disease. I definitely had a serious injury – they pumped 9 liters out of me. Not only X-Ray showed that there was an injury, they measured the amount of red blood cells, or whatever they are called. Something there had an elevated count. It was worrying, because that indicates presence of inflammation in the body. But it definitely healed. For that reason I have no doubts. I also want to add that the doctor, who pricked me, had 15 years of experience. And not a single incident similar to mine during 15 years.
Andriyana: Yes. That’s what they said.
Pryhodko G.A.: And people who also had rib curvature could come there. Even if they are curved, I had pricks from both sides of my back!
Andriyana: He was searching really persistently…
Pryhodko G.A.: 26 pricks from both sides of the spine.
Andriyana: And he survived and is still alive.
Pryhodko G.A.: Eventually, I didn’t understand my wife’s worry. I saw, the same as Vasyl Barladianu, who came here and concerned himself with everything, and that herbalist…To tell the truth, I was fed up with all that by that time. Please forgive me, but it turned into nonsense: what I was allowed and not allowed to eat and drink, when and in what particular minute. That irritated me because I didn’t get the reason. Later, when 6 years passed by and my wife showed me that hospital discharge documentation and I read it I realized that everything was kept in secret.
Well, it is time to have rest. It’s already 12 o’clock.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, time to go.
Pryhodko G.A.: Otherwise we can have an endless talk. I told you before that I don’t like to narrate.
Ovsienko V.V.: And surprisingly such a detective story appeared.
It was Grigory Prohodko. His wife Andriyana participated in a conversation.
THE OPPRESSION MOVEMENT
Pryhodko G.A.: When we talk of those people, let’s call them “the oppression movement”, we mean a few hundreds of people, maybe a few thousands, who stood unarmed for their beliefs. Sometimes a question might be posed: “Were consciously conducting the oppression?”. I would like to say that this is not a correctly posed question. What does it mean “consciously” or “unconsciously”? It’s obvious that our actions were conscious, but the question is about what we were doing. We weren’t physically fighting, no! We simply behaved nor-ma-lly! I think that when a person is outraged – such behavior is normal. And that’s what we did. Nothing more and nothing less. When one stands against something they don’t like – it’s normal. However, the government saw that dangerous.
Andriyana: Ok, wait a bit. You are now judging those who repressed you. I might not be stating my position clearly here, but you knew that they were going to harass you for your actions.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, but my question is: what did were they punishing us for?
Andriyana: And by what means, right?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, and that. For example, I was accused of saying that collectivization had tragic results. That’s what it said in my sentence. So I ask: “Pardon me, this is no action at all. I said, I think so. You may lead a dispute with me – that’s another thing. But why are you accusing me of a crime?”. Of course it makes me angry, and of course I stand against such treatment. There’s something else. If I, for example, create an organization aiming at bringing the current government down, and I am then caught and punished – that’s a different thing. This means that I am leading a fight. If I am fighting, I should take into attention that the other side doesn’t wish to loose, right? Because if I get the power, my enemy will know what I will do with him then, right? Arrest and imprison. But that’s different. Let’s return to the oppression movement. These few hundreds of people, maybe a few thousands, were active after gun fights. Gun fighting was a different part of our history. The oppression movement was a more peaceful, cultural, religious, labour and technocratic movement. It was a totally different thing from the government thought it was.
Adriyana: Wait. How can you then be considered independent, if all you wanted was upgrading the current society? Or were you freedom fighters back then and the government punished you for that?
Pryhodko G.A.: No. I, for example, state that the Ukrainian nation appeared on this territory, and this is the place where it must have its own country to live – that’s my idea and it’s no crime. Why? Because any nation has a right which is stated in the UNO – the people have a right for their country. How’s that a crime? It’s not! I never threatened the government, and never stated that I will bring the Soviet Union down. All those dissidents, by the way, all those people who were bringing the USSR down, did not take the communists away from power. All they were doing was tearing Ukraine away from Russia. And when the government saw these actions as anti-soviet agitation – they made a mistake. Those people never said “Let’s tare the USSR down”. They said “Let’s tear Ukraine away from USSR.
Ovsienko V.V.: Or to change the soviet power to some other. Monarch power for example.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. There was no such thing. On the contrary, they said: let soviet power be as it is. Let communists rule, but let Ukraine be independent. I see this as normal behavior. It would have been not normal if I, being a nationalist who wanted Ukraine to be independent, stood up and said that we should bring the soviet power down and bring back tsar times – that would have been a different talk, that would have been abnormal behavior. Why? Because I need Ukraine, and I don’t what regime is on in Moscow.
If we look at the situation from this aspect, then the people’s behavior is absolutely normal. In other countries, France for example, all people are normal people. Some of them write poems, some – articles, and some repair televisions. They are neither criminals, nor heroes – just ordinary civilians. But because they lived in an abnormal society with a psychological regime deviation, so many people were becoming heroes. Just because they behaved normally. The government feared that, so these people fell under tortures and repressions. And then those who survived the torture, naturally became heroes. However, I would like to stress attention on the fact that this was the result of wrong inadequate actions of the government. At this point it’s not so much about defending your position as about defending personal dignity. At this point one stands up and asks: “Who are you to address me like that? Am I your property? Why are you arresting me, did I harm anyone? Yes, I did say that Ukraine should be independent, so what? It will be independent!”
I had one interesting conversation after my first arrest. During the interrogation process a man came from Kyiv and at some point he got angry at me for writing something: “Who are you fighting against? Our government will stay for another 137 years!”. To that I answered: “We will not allow this!” This was not protocoled because those words weren’t taken seriously, so the guy asked me: “What do you want? I wish to know. We kept an eye on you – you don’t feel a strong need for money, you take your career carefully. So what do you want from life?”, - “What do you mean? If I don’t confess, if I don’t chase money, then I must be aiming at something harmful from your perspective?”. So I told him that I wanted to visit two funerals – the funeral of the empire and the funeral of socialism. I said this in the beginning of the 1970s. Both officials conducting the interrogation smiled at this – of course they did. Who could’ve thought that an empire such as the USSR could go down? So I wasn’t punished for those words. Those words were normal, they were actually so normal that the interrogators took them for a joke. They couldn’t understand the fact that someone could be simply stating their thoughts of what they wanted to see around and live up to. And I thank God that I lived long enough to see that empire go down, and I hope I will live long enough to see the end of socialism
Andriyana: Mister Vasyl, do you know why Pryhodko is of such interest to me? For example, how did he know that there were going to be those meetings...
Ovsienko V.V.: I’m glad there are people, who can look into the future and formate it. Because most people actually live in their past. However, there’s a small part of people, who move the progress forwards, because they started thinking differently from everyone else. Everybody thinks it’s possible when it’s not, but these actually reach the impossible and thus move humanity forwards. I also live in the past, but in my case it has a lot to do with my profession...
Andriyana: Which is what?
Ovsienko V.V.: It’s the one which I acquired because of the KGB. If there had been no repressions, obviously I would have had nothing to make the Dictionary of the repressed from, right?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, and there would have been no need for those memoirs.
Ovsienko V.V.: I should thank the KGB, because they gave me a job: a combination of philologist with a historian, I guess. In this case I would like to quote Vasyl Stus once again: “If we will ever be remembered, we will be remembered as people who managed to stay themselves in such dark times. And next to certain names, they will write: “he also wrote poetry” with really tiny letters”. I mean that Vasyl Stus never saw himself as a hero of any sort – he saw himself simply doing the right thing during in abnormal circumstances. The fact that so many people behaved abnormally, the fact that they went below any level of morality – didn’t change the fact that someone had to make strong effort to keep them all together. Otherwise, we would have all gone down.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. And Andriyana posed a question to us here: your group was tiny – what are 1000 people among 50 million, right? And it happens so, that you were the ones normal and all the others abnormal, right?
Ovsienko V.V.: Right.
Pryhodko G.A.: Right. In your book you mentioned how the KGB agent Honchar gave you a poetry book of Ivan Dratch, who was awarded with the Shevchenko award for having poems of Lenin. So Dratch, in that case, behaved wrong, as he wrote: “I’m breathing with Lenin until ny last breath”. I don’t believe he did, by the way! So it happens so that Dratch lied. He agreed to start lying because he was he was afraid of getting arrested – I understand that, but his behavior was not normal. Stus’s behavior, in comparison, was normal. He did nothing else but stayed himself: talked his own thoughts, wrote in the way he could – nothing more and nothing less. The fact that he was killed took place because of the regime paranoia, not because of his criminal actions. Just think of it! To kill a person for his poetry. To kill someone because he doesn’t like you! That regime was insane. So I should agree here – it takes a hero to stand through all that madness.
Ovsienko V.V.: I once thought that if, for example, a war starts and thousands of men march to the front with flowers, enthusiasm, battles, patriotic euphoria, I thought that would be somehting very different from when you’re one in a million standing against this regime, or get locked up in a cell, alone or with a stool pigeon and no one else. And you survive months of interrogation, and every time you get told that: “Are you that smart then, and all the others in those cells are fools? All 50 million people are building communism and you stand against that?”. And you stand alone against this machine which has already destroyed dozen million lives.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes-yes. You know, mr. Vasyl, dissidents, even among themselves, were never united on their behavior during trial. Some were simply silent, like “I don’t accept you ad you are bandits and that’s it. I don’t remember who you write about...
Ovsienko V.V.: Proniuk behaved like that.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, and then he says: “I give no answer because of ethic reasons.”. An that was that. He gave no testimony. That’s one behavior pattern. Another pattern is to give testimony, but this way works when the person has committed something but didn’t have enough time to spread it, thus the testimony wouldn’t effect other people. Then the person only points out it self and that’s the point where new questions occur. During my first arrest I decided not to say anything. And that;s what I did. During my second trial I decided to use a different tactic. I agrees that all the writings they incriminated me were mine and told them of when and where were they created. “Did you give them to anyone?”, - “No, I didn’t.”. And I really didn’t, apart from one person – Ivan Sokulskiy, but they were confiscated from him. There were six written materials belonging to me. Now, the question is, why did I confess to the KGB that those writings were mine? Because that was the strong position in that situation: “Yes, I agree those materials are mine, I agree to have written them, but that’s no criminal act – everything is legal. You’re taking it all wrong, officers”. My first position, when I was denying everything, was week, because I couldn’t defend anything. “Are these posters yours?”, - “No, I see them for the first time”. And that was that. On the other hand, when I accepted to be the author of those materials, I was defending each of them. I was insisting on the fact, and proving that my point of view was rightful. I was defending my belongings.
Andriyana: Wait. This is quite interesting. You were never part of any revolutionary organization with a status or a structure, with an enemy to fight against and tactical preparations, right? You were single people with just personal opinion. By the way, this is the question which bothered me for a long time, but back in those days I couldn’t discuss it with anyone. Let’s say, I was among Olena Antoniv’s surrounding, among very interesting people, like Mekhailo Horyn and others. What should be stated as moral if their views were seen as illegal? It was of interest for many people, not just me. We called those people revolutionaries back at the time. They were those people, who acted out of will for happiness and wealth of other people – were they messiahs then? This was conversation, basically, about you gentlemen. You were imprisoned and we were talking of you!
Pryhodko G.A.: I should say, that I, personally, was far away from thoughts of doing anything for “the society”. Firstly, because a society is a lot of people, and I have no idea about what all of them want. The society never empowered me to do anything. And everybody who does anything for “the society” is demagog and a lier, no matter if he is a deputy or anyone else. To work for the society, one must be empowered by the society.
What is the person driven by? What was I driven by, for example? It may be called conscience, morality or anything else. I simply thought that any friendship with that regime was below my dignity. When I saw people making speeches in Moscow or Kyiv, I felt happy and proud, and was eager to participate. That wasn’t for “the society”, it was for my own dignity. It was for being my self and demanding respect from those around me, including the KGBs.
Andriyana: But I want to say that you will never be alone, because you are surrounded by people who felt sympathy for you, supported you. I mean that even back then an organization was already being created, right? At least underground. New people appeared, that kept on doing what you started.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, some people appeared. Most, however, fled out of fear.
Andriyana: Out of fear, yes...
Pryhodko G.A.: I stayed in a social vacuum for a long time, when everybody was evading me – at work and everywhere else. I had no one to talk to. It took me along time to overcome it. Single people came to support me, helped financially, showed interest in my life. But was it growing into an organization? No, it wasn’t. Because an organization is a formal union of people with a statute and responsibilities, hierarchy, donations and so on. We couldn’t have created an organization, because that regime would have destroyed it instantly. Dissident movement was no organization. Even the Helsinki Group filial was no organization. They had no statute, donations or functional responsibilities. The government, however, considered them as almost an organization and destroyed them. Many people died, some survived.
We understood the situation and tried to use it as efficiently as possible, staying unofficial. Someone was writing, someone else was editing but it never became a structured group – that was the policy out of thoughts about the regime. Our strategy was to firstly destabilize the regime to bring some air in. And only at the of 1980s, when the regime, factually fell, 15 new parties appeared.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ievhen Sverstiuk once said an interesting thing, talking of 1960s: “It was no party, no organization, but when so many great people get together, something special is bound to happen.”.
Pryhodko G.A.: True.
Ovsienko V.V.: We weren’t the only ones who understood this, so did our enemies. And that’s why they applied return actions. Timely, as they thought. I mean the arrests of 1972.
Pryhodko G.A.: But they made a strategic mistake. They made those people gather together in concentration camps. And that created something totally new, right?
Ovsienko V.V.: Oh yes!
Pryhodko G.A.: First of all, those were educated people, thus strong intellectually and morally and they were tempered in the camps, because the regime never missed a chance to use detention cells. These people were released in the end of 1980s – beginning of 1990s. And the result was the destruction of the empire. They made a strategic mistake which brought their doom, and it happened without guns and physical violence. It was intellectual.
Ovsienko V.V.: Mykhailo Horyn mentioned once, concerning the arrests of 1965, that people who were arrested then, mainly tried to defend themselves by saying: “We were never against the regime, all we wanted was to upgrade it, make it better.”. Horyn did say that it was conscious a lie. He said that during the investigation, he wasn’t totally honest with the authorities, but during the trial he decided to stand true and say openly that he was against the government. During the next trials he was always straight and honest, and he said it made him feel much lighter and easier, because he was saying the truth.
Pryhodko G.A.: You know, those who went through second terms were actually professionals. Why were we sentenced to such insane terms? Because the authorities were enraged with us.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes.
Pryhodko G.A.: They faced something they hadn’t foreseen. They sentenced kids, but released professionals, so when we went in for the second time, we gave them a fight. Intellectually and morally. During the first investigation, and I know this from my own experience, I was defending myself by denying everything, and during second terms we made them give us the longest punishment terms. I remember being taken to Chystopol with Sokulskiy, and colonel Honchar coming over to see us. He asked me of how trial went, so I said “ok”. He asked of why were given such long terms and I said that he should know better. He said that he flew straight to Dnipropetrovsk as soon as he found out and the local KGBs just said that it was because our behavior during the trial.
We were given 10 years, and 5 of them in exile. Even Kyiv got scared after that, because they understood that this was going to resonate to Moscow creating problems and drawing attention. Factually, me and Ivan simply provoked them to such inappropriate actions. Why? Because we had no way to defend ourselves. It was absolutely clear how they were going to sentence us, so our actions were the best option.
TRIAL OF 7th-13th of JANUARY 1981
Pryhodko G.A.: When we were taken into court I saw that the hall was full and Vasyliev – the secretary of the regional committee, an ideologically devoted communist, was in the first row. The head of the regional committee and the head of the town committee were next to him. Our relatives were absent, so Ivan stood up and posed the question about this. I was quiet, because my relatives were far away, whereas his family was nearby in Dnipropetrovsk. The judge replied something but Ivan insisted on his family’s presence. The judge replied to this that it is not obligatory for the court to let relatives know of such procedures. After this, Ivan turned to the court audience and said: “I ask for your help. My address is such and such. Please tell my mother and my wife that the court has started.”. No one went to do as he asked, of course, so we understood that there was no possibility of defense at all.
We denied the advocates that the government offered us. We stated that we did not commit any crimes, so there was no need for advocates. That was no real trial. The judge did not agree with us and still provided us with advocates. We said that in that case we will not answer any of their questions. We had to do something to make their situation worse. We had to figure something out, for them to give us the highest punishment terms, so that Moscow would hear about this investigation and this trial.
The whole idea was for people to start thinking that if two small poets, who didn’t even distribute their poetry got such terms, what will happen if the authorities found a whole publishing house? Would such people be shot down straight away or what? There could have been a problem because of this. But Dnipropetrovsk didn’t understand the things that Kyiv and Moscow understood very clearly.
So we decided to work that situation through like this: we went through all the obligatory procedures, applied for distrust to the court, applies for prosecutors dismissal from the hearing and so on. The court dismissed all our application of course. And then, during the court investigation, when Ivan was being question, he said: “I’m not answering any of your question, because I don’t accept the court”.
The judge addressed me after: “Defendant Pryhodko, will you provide testimony?”, - “Yes, pose your question, please.”, - “Does the handwritten material “Ivan Rudenko” belong to you?”, - “Yes”, - ”When and where did you write it?”, - “Why are you asking my, mr. judge?”, - “What do you mean “why”? Because you are standing trial.”, - “Exactly. So, taking into attention that I’m standing trial, I ask you: with what purpose are you asking me questions about this handwritten material?”. The court hall was all attentive and watching, but I could clearly see that no one could understand what was was going on. The judge was also lost, so I said: “Mr. judge, the Code states that the court may pose only those questions concerning criminal actions. What connection does my handwritten material have to do with criminal actions?”, - “Your accusation has the reason right here – it’s an anti-soviet document.”, - “Please read it out!”. The judge looked at my book, which was a thick one and said: “Pryhodko, there’s a lot to read here!”, - “Ok, tell me what exactly is anti-soviet in that document?”, - “The accusation letter states that this document calls to physical destruction of the Soviet Union”, - “Please, read out the paragraph, in which I claim anything of such sort.”. The judges looked lost, because they never read anything from this document. The judge then turned to the prosecutor and asked for his opinion. The prosecutor jumped up: “No reading! Nothing to read there!”, then the advocate jumped up and said: “ Whatever you say, you honor!”. Then the court went away for consulting with each other. Upon their return they stated: “Deny the appeal to read the document”. I turn to the secretary: “Please, note this: the court denied checking material evidence”. It’s important, they must’ve checked the evidence. The secretary wrote it down.
The next question: “Pryhodko, does the text “Pustelnyk” belong to you?”. And everything goes round again, and it kept on going for the whole day. Vasyliev was jumping up and down willing to interfere but every time recalled that he wasn’t on a work meeting but in court, and head to sit back down again. That was funny. He was absent on the second day of the trial. Everybody was tired, including me.
On the second day Ivan stated that he will answer all the questions: “Ok, I didn’t do it yesterday, but I’m ready today”. On the first day I was incriminated 16 handwritten materials and a note which I wrote in prison. Something to do with the 8th of March. Had something to do with women. I wrote to Verkhovna Rada – many people did that, not just me – about defending Ukrainian female political prisoners. I have a saying in that note, that the blossoming of the Ukrainian nation – women, are held imprisoned. I remember how this enraged the judges. The fact that I called Stefa Shabatura, Iryna Kalynets, Nadiya Svitlychna – the blossoming of the Ukrainian nation mage those judges totally furious.
They started the questioning from Ivan and the drill continued as on the first day. His situation was even more anecdotic than mine. He had a deal with a publishing house before all this absurd, about publishing his poetry book, but the publishing house wasn’t sure that it was a good idea because the author was previously imprisoned, so Ivan went to the KGB and asked them to check whether the book had anything anti-soviet in it. The KGB checked it and said that everything was ok. And then during the arrest, the authorities confiscate this one poetry book and incriminate it as anti-soviet. For this reason after some time, these judges were trying to free us both, but more Ivan than me, because it was a serious mistake from their side.
The funny thing was that they accused him basically of two words: “kolkhoz” and “political department”. The thing was that Ivan manner of writing was like this: he sat down at the table, took a sheet of paper and started fantasizing. For example, “kolkhoz” and “political department” were the two words which came to his. He wrote them down and put the sheet of paper aside, taking a clean one instead. So when he was arrested, all these sheets were confiscated and the mentioned two words were seen as beginning of an anti-soviet poem. Funny that was.
Ovsienko V.V.: And according to the soviet system, intention of a crime was also a crime.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. Especially when we talk of anti-soviet poetry. But I understand why they were taking their revenge on him – he entered the Helsinki Group and made this absurd public. They had no intention to hunt me down, because I was not in the Helsinki Group although I had contacts with Kalinichenko and Sokulsiy. But upon Ivan’s arrest they confiscated 6 of my handwritten books which gave him for review.To be honest I gave them to no one else, just him. I wanted him to check them and tell me his thoughts. He didn’t do it, because they arrested him before he got to those books.
Ovsienko V.V.: So your writings were reviewed by the KGB then.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. So he was arrested on 11th of April and sent to prison and I was called up to the KGB office at the end 1980. I came there and was interrogated by Shkonda and Khrypkov. They lead a cross-interrogation, but at first with no evidence. At first it was like this: “Are you acquainted with Ivan Grygorovych Sokulskiy?”, - “Yes, I am.”, - “When have you met?”, - “We’ve known each other since our childhood”. They started off with a blank to fill, and then came to the interesting part: “Tell us please, have you seen any psychological deviations in his behavior?”. At this point I understood that they want to lock him up in the psychiatric ward. I had been imprisoned before, so it was absolutely clear to me, that they had nothing against him, since they wanted to make him a psycho. So I said: “No, I am sure he is totally healthy and adequate.”, - “Maybe you saw him loose his temper?”, - “No. He is always very stable.”.
Then Shkonda reached under the table and showed me a handwritten document: “Is this yours?”, - “Yes.”, - “Do you know where we got it from?”, - “Yes, from Sokulskiy.”, - “All six of them!”, - “I know. Why do you ask, are they anti-soviet?”, - “No, but we can make them anything we want.”, - “Of course you can, but you’ll have to prove it.”, - “In this novel “Ivan Rudenko” you you call on physical violence against soviet activists.”. How did they ever make that? I said: “Please, read aloud that point”, - “We’ll find it.”. And that was it for the first interrogation day.
I was called up again the next day by the same officers and the talk was of different character. Shkonda handed me one of the pages of my novel and asked to read it aloud, so I did. It was something philosophical, like: the link of society’s fate with the territory it lives on. I kept reading on but he stopped me and asked: “Well? What do you think?”, - “What can I say? It’s ok.”, - “What’s written there?”, - “The author wished to understand the link between the fate of society, its temper and the territory of its historical location.”, - “How would you explain that with an example?”, - “I offered him the example of Israel: “Let’s take Jews, Palestine, their historical location together with their history.”, - “Read the next paragraph.”. So I did. The author chose Israel and Palestine as examples in the novel. “Have you read this before?” - I was then asked. “No, it’s the first time I see this.”, - “Who’s handwriting is this?”, - “I don’t know. - I said. It’s Shkonda’s handwriting” - Khrypokv said. “Ok. Maybe.” - I replied. Shkonda gave another sheet of paper and said: “Here. I wrote this out of your novel, just to make it readable, do you know this handwriting?”, - “No, but I can clearly see I wouldn’t be able to read it.”, - “This is Sokulskiy’s writing.”, - “Well, maybe. Genius’s might as well have awful handwriting.”, - “True, can find anything interesting here?”, - “No. Everything is fine.”, - “Ok, maybe you actually daw something abnormal about Sokulskiy’s behavior?”, - “No, my word was final: Sokulskiy is normal. And let’s not return to this subject again.”, - “You know, you actually have all the chances to get to the same place he is now at.”, - “I’m prepared.”, - “Don’t be too prepared.”, - “Well, I’ll just wait for your decision.”. And that was it. Shkonda took me to the counter, where they gave me enough money to travel back.
After that I went walking around the city feeling quite anxious. I wanted to help ivan somehow but didn’t know how to. Yes, they talked as if they had nothing against him. The only thing I could think of was to provoke them to arrest me. As if it was a protest. But then again: prison is one thing, psychiatric wards is different. If Ivan wouldn’t have had a son, it wouldn’t have been such a dirty trick, because children inherit this problem. I had been tested three times for mental health, and on the third time, the expertise sent me to the Serbskiy Institute for additional checks. Having remembered all that, I decided to write a letter to Andropov, who was the head of the KGB back then. I was harsh, but not a hooligan or anti-soviet in that letter. I wrote that I am strongly against Sokulskiy getting locked up in a psychiatric ward, and that if he committed a crime, then I demand an open trial, as stated by the law. I made three copies: one to Andropov, one to Oresya and one to general Shekaturov – the head of the Dnipropetrovsk KGB office back then. I went back home, and then in the beginning of May my mail was arrested. When they gave me a pack of documents to sign, I noticed that the arrest order was written n the day when my letter reached Andropov’s office.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was quick.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. So now we were together with Sokulskiy and thus we managed to keep him out of the psychiatric ward.
And then there was the trial. You do understand the means, with which I helped Ivan evade psychiatry. After the trial, the court set up a discussion. The prosecutor was absolutely destroyed by us, he couldn’t even speak Ukrainian and asked the judge to be allowed to talk Russian.
Ovsienko V.V.: Gob smack.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. The court gave the admission and addressed me and Ivan with a question on whether the prosecutor could use Russian. We said that we didn’t care which language he used. He was holding a file with the cover saying “Leninism Flag” and was shouting we, anti-sovietists were lying and being untruthful towards our government.
Then they gave the last word. Ivan’s turn was first. It was the fourth day of our hunger strike, as we stated that we will stay hungry until the end of the investigation. He talked for three hours, the trial came to an end at 10 pm. We were then taken to prison, and as our hunger strike had ended we were ready to have some food, but there was no dinner waiting for us. While we were on hunger strike, the table in the cell was almost breaking under the weight of different food, but now that the strike had ended, they gave us nothing.
The next I was given my last word. I was aiming at taking 6 hours, but the hunger strike took my strength and I understood that I would not last for 6 hours, so I made me speech shorter – just 3 hours. I was also watching the hall during my speech. On the first day of trial I could see many angry female eyes in the hall. The audience mainly consisted of women. On the last day, some people couldn’t look straight, some of them were crying. After my speech the court went away for a discussion. They returned to read out the sentence and the audience stood up. When the sentences had been read, I saw fear in people’s eyes. The trial took 6 days, and everybody saw that there was no real case there, however, the sentences scared them. Just before the sentence announcement, around 10 people entered the hall and started applauding as soon as the judge read the sentence, but all the audience turned to them told to be quiet, so those people just ran out of the court hall.
That’s how the trial had ended. The protocol had 270 pages and 170 of them were my words.
Orysya, for example, was simply fooled by the court. When she came to the hearing they told her it had already ended, so she had to stay and wait to meet us afterwards, even though she got there in time to be present.
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AT IVAN SOKULSKIY
Pryhodko G.A.: To be honest, the judges pleaded for Ivan’s release after they’d issued the sentences, you should have seen it. In the prison, they were actually preparing him for death. More and more detention cells, like in the case with Stus. It was obvious that Ivan was to go down soon after Stus, but the regime was witnessing its last days.
Ovsienko V.V.: I know that Ivan suffered from many illnesses: radiculitis, osteochondrosis and others. His body was in pain. The detention cells were cold. God, Ivan was so exhausted.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. In addition to that, they fabricated another case for him and added another three years.
Ovsienko V.V.: He was supposed to go to criminal prison after serving his political term.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes.
Ovsienko V.V.: He could easily get killed there...
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. I supported him with my strength, but the only thing I could was to tell him: don’t think we’ll serve the full sentence. Somehow, I was sure they were going to kill us... Only in 1987 I started thinking that there might be a chance to get out alive.
Ovsienko V.V.: The “Zorya” newspaper published an article back then, saying that Ivan decided to confess. He denied it later on, saying that he never wrote that article. What was the deal?
Pryhodko G.A.: The deal was this: me and Ivan, we were in Chystopol, when he was bought in Dnipropetrovsk. We shared a cell, and I saw that Ivan was in a bad state. His problem really silly As any poet he was far away from Earth, flying somewhere in the sky.
Ovsienko V.V.: Poets can not be judged by ordinary standards.
Pryhodko G.A.: True. He was naive, thus trusted everything he was told. All geniuses are children, open and honest. His wife, Orysya, was allowed to see him and was coming to do so. Captain Gavrylenko was Ivan’s supervisor. Gavrylenko was and agronomy engineer by education and used to work in kolkhoz. He was looking after Ivan in such way: took Ivan into a field, using his duty vehicle “Volga” collected flowers for Ivan and brought them to him. Ivan liked it. After that Gavrylenko took back to the cell. That’s the way he was breaking down Ivan’s defenses. Quite cruel he was.
Concerning the interview – yes, Ivan gave an interview. The article was created as if it was Ivan’s interview (“Prozrinnya” - “Zorya” newspaper, 12.06.1983. Author – L. Gamolskiy. Ovsienko V.V.). Ivan was then claiming that those were never his words. The weakness of Ivan’s position was in the fact that he had no recorder. It was his mistake. He should’ve foreseen that fabrication might’ve taken place.
Ovsienko V.V.: Absolutely.
Pryhodko G.A.: Absolutely. Only later did Mykhailo Horyn take into habit bringing a recorder with him to any conversation with the officials. The record was as evidence. In Ivan’s case, they simply forged his interview.
Concerning Ivan’s “amnesty” note. He did really write it, yes. But it was written in a poetic manner, basically stating that the author denied his guilt. He wrote: “Please, pardon me. I do not accept my guilt.”. I explained to him later that writing amnesty notes means that you accept the guilt. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. When his appeal reached the office, the KGBs decided to beat the confession out of him, and so shifted him from Dnipropetrovsk to Chystopol. The next day I was given the newspaper with his interview. There were three of us in that cell then: me, Vitaliy Kalinichenko and Ashot Navasardyan. Vitaliy burst into rage as soon as he read the article but I calmed him down and told that we should clarify everything before making assumptions. I felt there was something wrong there. Ivan was then sent to our cell, but he didn’t know about the article and was in a good mood after meeting his wife. And then Vitaliy was separated from us and taken to a separate cell with Ivan. I then asked Vitaliy to stay calm and not cause any chaos.
Vitaliy did as asked, but still told Ivan of the article. Ivan reacted by demanding me in the cell instead of Vitaliy. When I entered the cell I saw that Ivan shocked and disturbed because of the news, it turned out that he knew nothing about what happened. I had to help him somehow, for example, by sending applications to the Prosecutor General stating that the “amnesty note” written by Ivan was fake. There was no Ivan’s signature anywhere, so officially he didn’t agree to be the author of that article. Ivan in such a bad condition because of this situation that I had to dictate him the letter he wrote to his wife. He stayed in that state for a few days.
After that Ivan was taken away from the cell and I stayed alone. He was moved to a cell just opposite to mine. After three days I heard Ivan screaming in his cell: “Get out here, you bastard! I’ll destroy you!”. I called the guard and asked for the supervisor KGB lieutenant. The screams had stopped, so when the lieutenant came, he addressed me straight away: “What happened? Captain Gavrylenko just came from Dnipropetrovsk and when we entered Ivan’s cell he attacked the captain, threatening to kill him... I can’t understand what happened.”, - “Please, tell captain Gavrylenko my plead – don’t bother Sokulskiy. And also tell the captain I would like to ask for an audition with him.”, - “Ok, I’ll tell him now.
In around a half an hour I was taken to the captain. I entered the place and saw captain Gavrylenko lost and embarrassed. He didn’t understand what was the problem. As I entered, he said: “Grygoriy Andriyovych, I just had a conversation with Kyiv. Your appeal has been taken to Fedorchuk’s desk. They’re asking you to lower your voice. We’ll sort everything out.”, - “What happened?”, - “I don’t know. I entered Ivan’s cell...”, - “Did you bring this newspaper?”, - “No, but I was the one who sent it.”, - “Did you show this newspaper to Ivan back in Dnipropetrovsk?”, - “No, because the newspaper came later than he was moved.”. So, we clarified the situation with the captain after having that conversation. He told me then: “I was doing everything for the best of him. I was bringing hi different things every day, was taking him out to the field, gathered flowers for him.”. Ivan did agree that the captain had been doing all that.
I said: “Well, it happened so because you were fooling him. You were pushing him towards that amnesty appeal. Don’t you understand that you compromised his pride by these actions?”, - “But I was doing it for the best. I have 30 letters here for Ivan from people who read the article...”. He read a few of them and all the senders were praising Ivan’s decision. I took a look at those letters and saw that they were all written in one manner and signed on the same date. I smiled, because I noticed that the captain was still not aware of what was really going on. He looked at me and said: “Do you think we did all this?”, - “No-no! I don’t think so, of course not. But please, don’t bother Ivan anymore. You have already done your dirty job, haven’t you? Well then, stop bothering him. Let him pass away peacefully.”, - “Why didn’t he take these drawings? They belong to his daughter.”, - “From your hands? Those hands are corrupted. Could he ever take anything from those corrupted hands?”.
It looked like this captain never heard anything as honest before. At the end he reminded me that he will call either Kyiv or Moscow to check, whether my appeal reached the goal.
The next he called me up again, but I noticed he was talking differently. Calmer and self confident. He told me he’d telephoned the needed people. He said: “Well, Grygoriy Andriyovych, it’s a shame that such a situation occurred with Ivan. I was doing my best to make him feel better.”, - “Oh please, you’re a KGB officer.”, - “Well, yes, I am.”, - “Who were you before? You were the main agronomy engineer at the kolkhoz, right?”, - “Yes.”, - “Why did you leave your career? You left for KGB and you want Ivan to be your friend?”
That ended our conversation. He left. They really stopped bothering Ivan, and in the beginning of 9185 I was already in Kazan. I was supposed to go to hospital, and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t let me, even though I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. So was going through treatment in the Kazan SIZO. That was the place, by the way, where they started giving me psychoactive drugs. They did it for two days, but I noticed it and made a scandal, so they stopped. After that, for some reason, they kept me in Kazan for two months. They kept me ambulatory treatment, but refused to take me back to Chystopol. This absurd reached its peak, when everyday I had the head of the SIZO or the head of the regime as visitors and they apologized for making me wait. They said that Chystopol didn’t want me back for unknown reasons. So it turned out that I was stuck in the air.
Ovsienko V.V.: Unneeded?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. However, after another two months, at last, a plane came and took me back.
Ovsienko V.V.: A plane? Is the distance that big?
Pryhodko G.A.: There are no roads in winter. It was January-February then. By air was the only way.
Ovsienko V.V.:Oh, it’s the place where shifts get by river, right?
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, by fairy. A few dozens of kilometers. The fairy doesn’t get through in winter, since the river is frozen. Upon my arrival I was told that there were no free cells. The guard apologized and asked whether I would be ok to stay in a temporary isolation cell, but he promised they’d make a hospital room out of it. I agreed, because I was really ill and had high temperature. During my stay in that cell I saw no people at all, as if the whole prison had been moved. But then one day I heard Vitlaiy Shmelev shouting from across the yard that Ivan was standing trial. For what? For hooliganism. As soon as I came back to the cell I wrote an appeal to the prosecutor. I didn’t know what was going on, but I felt it was some kind of provocation. The prosecutor agreed to meet me and asked whether I wanted to testify in that investigation. I said that I would like to know the whole picture for a start because I had no possibility of communication.
He told me that since he called me up, he had to question me. Oh well... He asked: “Are you acquainted with Sokulskiy?”, - “Yes.”, - “Are you acquainted with Kalinichenko?”, - “Yes.”. He didn’t ask me anything else, so I posed my question: “Please, add to the protocol that I would like to testify for the case.”. I also added something about killing Kalinichenko when I see him. “I can not write this down.”, - “What can you write?”, - “Why do you want this?”, - “I want to be called up by the court as a witness. And I wish to be question about why do I talk of Kalinichenko like that, ok?”, - “Well, let’s say, “beat up” instead of kill.”, - “Ok. Write “beat up”. It didn’t work, I didn’t get called up by the court. I was still in Chystopol then, and I was still ill. I was ill for 10 moths in total. We had a deal with Ivan and Shmelev. Because Shmelev was sentenced together with us and knew the drill, he knew that Ivan would try to call us up as witnesses for his trial.
So Ivan was taken to court. We heard it. We shouted out his name when he was leaving. Then he returned and said that the court hearing had been suspended. “Why?”, - “I demanded you two to be witnesses. The court refused, so I refused to testify. That’s why?”, - “Suspended until when?”, - “I don’t know.”.
I was then, at the end of June or beginning of July, suddenly shifted. They moved me far away to Ural, because my prison sentence came to an end and I had to go to exile. The court hearing took place when I was away. I guess they were waiting to get rid of me.
Later, Ivan came to Kuchyno, where I was (Sokulskiy came to the special regime department of the camp VS-389/36-1 (Kuchin village of Perm region) on 17.10.1985 – Ovsienko V.V.). He told me that they gave him another 3 years. Naturally, he didn’t feel good about it. I tried to calm him down saying that one day it will end anyway. And I was right. The sad thing was that Ivan strangly and suddenly died (22.06.1992). We all knew that he was to die next after Stus, but happily, the regime was down by that time.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, but even though the regime became much weaker, there were people like Sokulskiy, Kandyba and Alekseev, who were getting the hardest treatment until the very end.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. Although, still, they suffered less by that time. Because the way they treated Ivan in the beginning – that was obvious intention to kill him. The terms in Kuchyno were a bit softer, true. The officials took their revenge not only on Ivan, but also on Alekseev. Some of those people are still in power and they still don’t get that they are no gods, that they created a psychologically abnormal regime.
CONCERNING MORAL CLEANSING OF THE NATION
Pryhodko G.A.: Certain dissident scientists compare Hitler’s regime to what KGBs created. Hitler’s regime was tough, but it was rational. The KGBs had no ratio. I can’t understand most of their motivation. I could have understood them if they motives of fighting against something, but there were none, they were simply getting revenge. Me and Ivan, for example, we were accounting that the court would give us the maximum possible term out if will for revenge, and we reached our goal. The court couldn’t predict that giving such a term is irrationally worng and would lead to problems. I don’t know the full picture in Dnipropetrovsk, because there were additional problems with the “Matrosov mafia”, which had been eliminated in 1982. That was during Andropov’s reign, right?
Ovsienko V.V.: What is “Matrosov mafia”?
Pryhodko G.A.: There was a mafia clan in Dnipropetrovsk, called “Matrosov mafia”, lead by Milchenko, who suddenly died at the border, when tried to leave the country. Hs clan was racketeering, doing distribution deals, gambling deals. They were in control of drug business in Dnipropetrovsk. There were rumors that they were also doing contract murders for the government. The clan went down after a number of high officials were dismissed or died. All this took place during Andropov’s reign. That story has many strange deaths connected to that mafia clan.
I don’t know for sure. When I was in jail, I addressed the prosecutor of the Sinelnykivskiy region with a question, about the fact that they were supposed to get new materials form the regional hospital about the reason of death of a person. I knew that the materials were coming because one of the doctors told me. He said they should arrive at the prosecutor’s office in 20 days. I went there and received an answer from the prosecutor’s office that no materials had been delivered to them. I addressed the hospital, and they said they had no documents, so I could not determine the death cause. External signs pointed to poisoning. The official death reason was pneumonia, but the real reason was left unknown. Cases like this were numerous. Rumors said it had something to do with the Matrosov mafia, but I never found out for sure. Milchenko’s death on crossing the border was also very mysterious. He wasn’t even on a run, he was traveling legally. The press had some hints towards Pavlo Lasarernko, but no one knows for sure. Other mysteries also took place. We heard that Milchenko got a death sentence, but for some reason he served 12 years and was released. And riddles like this are also numerous in our history. You wrote about unrevealed archives of Ivan Grozny! Can we really expect the revelation of the KGB archives then? Assumptions is all we have.
Ovsienko V.V.: Sergiy Bilokon wrote how hards it was to gain access to the archive materials. There’s only access to the files of people who had been rehabilitated. Those who hadn’t been – remain locked up.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, and not only that. There’s this article of Pshennikov, the head of the Ukrainian Security Services archive. He is the one asked about access to the files of the rehabilitated people, but only of those, who don’t have connections with others. As you may have understood, we will not be able to identify informer agents.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes. They say “Read what I let you read”. And they hold the file in their hand while you read. So it’s possible to read, but not to copy.
Pryhodko G.A.: Pshennikov is an interesting character. He is asked about access to files of Bandera and Stecko, and his answer is: “Well, they were never imprisoned by us – so we don’t have their materials”. I guess, he might be saying the truth. Those materials might be held in Moscow, since Bandera’s killer was sent all the way down from Moscow around Kyiv. Anyway, there are still many secrets and mysteries. The main question is, however, how are we going to cleans our nation with all those secrets. As no one really repented.
Ovsienko V.V.: No one, true.
Pryhodko G.A.: Repent is one thing they can do. Cleansing doesn’t necessarily mean they should be shot down or imprisoned, does it? They should at least accept their guilt. You do see how the nation treats Verkhovna Rada now, don’t you? They hate it! If the new president will dismiss all the Verkhovna Rada, the nation will only greet such actions! It is impossible to cleans a nation without lustration – it’s the first step.
Ovsienko V.V.: Repentance is also important. I remember when a former KGB agent ran for president elections and I was asked whether I agree with it. I said I didn’t, because that man did not repent. If would have, I would have had an absolutely different view on his actions.
Pryhodko G.A.: The question is to firstly find out who is Marchuk. After that we can make an output on what to do. If he really committed murders, he should be imprisoned, because people were actually dying. And someone was killing them – Ivasiuk, Stus and others. Ordinary soldiers might have been the hands, but someone gave them orders. Sudoplatov, for example, did kill. I think he was a more honest person than Marchuk, because he published books and confessed on his doings. Marchuk, in comparison, doesn’t confess, and keeps saying that he will not allow the revelation of the other agents. So if that’s his ground, why does he aim for president? They say: “Do you want Marchuk to be imprisoned?”. And they want him as the president of Ukraine, with all those secrets. We shouldn’t be buying this cat in a sack.
Ovsienko V.V.: The president is a public person, and he has no person life.
Pryhodko G.A.: Of course. We’re not buying secrets. If you committed a murder, you should be punished. Those arrests, when we were punished – they were understandable. It was a political action, but murders can not be understood. And there’s nothing fair about situations when one comes armed and the other is not.
Ovsienko V.V.: Back then I wrote that it would have been wise of Marchuk to have revealed the stories of Stus of Marchenko, It would have done him a good deal.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, I agree.
Ovsienko V.V.: And it would have given him trust. But would never do it.
Pryhodko G.A.: I still haven’t read your article. If you happen to find a copy, please send me one. I had the honor of defending you too. There were situations when some people wanted to defend Marchuk bit started off by accusing Ovsienko. With hints like this some articles had been published in the “For Free Ukraine” newspaper, by Yriy Shuhevych, Ira Kalynets.
Ovsienko V.V.: Stefa Shabatura...
Pryhodko G.A.: I’ve never talked to those ladies. I had a rough talk with Shuhevych. I said: “You created suspicion that Ovsienko is one of the KGB agents.”, - “No, we meant Kindzior and Kosiv.”, - “Excuse me, but you didn’t mention this fact. You stated that two out of three, so Ovsienko could also fall under suspicion.”, - “Oh, come on... When they read aloud to me, it sounded fine.”.
Ovsienko V.V.: Stefa, by the way, during our train trip, said that I wrote one article under their influence. I said: “Excuse me, but I wrote this back in February. It was published in March, and all that was written by Kindzior and others, was read by me later in August.”, - “No, no...” - they answered. By the way, I was the first to stand against Marchuk, and I claim to have brought him down. That was a strong attack against him. He had to start explaining himself in the press and didn’t have anything to return at me.
Pryhodko G.A.: Of course! What could he possibly have said? He was a general of the KGB. If he was clean he could have addressed the court to have checked him thoroughly. That would have been a strong answer to any accusations.
Ovsienko V.V.: But they wrote that there were no materials against Marchuk. That even the committee, which worked back in 1991 (with Mykhailo Horyn), couldn’t find anything against him. It is, however, possiblr, that being the big KGB boss he was, he simply destroyed all the evidence against himself.
Pryhodko G.A.: He didn’t destroy everything, because there was still Moscow, where people really like to keep all the archives, even those belonging to Ivan Grozny. In case of need, the court might address those archives and ask. But, for Marchuk, it would have been very smart to have addressed the court before running elections for president, and ask them to check him id he is clean and honest. If the court would have announced, that Marchuk did serve in the KGB but never sanctioned anyone to murder or arrest, he would have had no problems.
Ovsienko V.V.: He a dissident of the KGB.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. And Kotovenko tells many stories of how he and Marchuk, together with their agents, published the “Maternity swans” of Vasyl Symonenko...
Ovsienko V.V.: Oh yes. He should have also remembered his other doings in the buro.
Pryhodko G.A.: Do you know Kotovenko?
Ovsienko V.V.: No, but I read his brochure and article – it’s so awful, it can’t get any worse.
Pryhodko G.A.: It’s a complex problem. I don’t know how this nation can cleans it self. Back in 1991-1992, when people still had the enthusiasm and the democrats had influence – that was when demands should have been stated, starting with Marchuk, when he was made the head of the Security Services of Ukraine.
Ovsienko V.V.: Our conversation continues on 22nd of January 2000 at home of Grygoriy Pryhodko.
Pryhodko G.A.: I already mentioned the falsification of my and Sokulskiy’s case. It really did take place. Ivan’s case was falsified even more than mine.
His sheets of paper with two words on them were not enough to incriminate a law violation They had to prove he was spreading them around. Like in the case with me, when I gave him my writings.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ivan is omnipresent, thus giving him anything is considered spreading by the KGB.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. Or for example, my file has a line saying, that I had previously been communicating with other prisoners by mail. So what? Where’s the crime? It was never forbidden to mail prisoners. I never sent them anything but letters with no special information. Just communication. I personally sent around 600 letters in over a year between my own imprisonment terms. I received even more letters, because sometimes I gave single answers to two-three letters. The had all been confiscated, but then returned to me, because there was nothing special about them.
I already mentioned that the investigators saw some of my handwritings as a call to physical violence against soviet activists. I really don’t remember this! There’s nothing like that in my writings. The interesting thing is that there’s no link to even a page in the file with the accusation, because no one really knew where those lines were in the book.
In one of the handwritten documents I gave an ecological picture page long. The main hero of my novel went for a stroll on the Dnipro river early in the morning and took some time to think about how the artificial water reservoirs, like the one he was looking at, have negative influence on the steppe. It’s true by the way, because the waves hit the soft steppe ground destroying them. As a result, the soil takes off into the artificial sea creating a swamps instead of a sea. The hero of the novel looks back 15 years at how he planted some reed near the shore, which grew taller and wider, thus defending the shore. And the hero thought “we can defend the shore like that! But I need to mobilize the people somehow.”. Basically, the man simply wants to defend nature.
The investigators saw this as a word against Russian-Ukrainian friendship, as Russians, from my point of view, are destroying Ukraine and I call to unite against Russians. And they refer to this page in the novel. They state that I used a metaphor where Russians are the sea and Ukrainians are the shore. The reed is unity against Russians. During the court hearing I didn’t even try to disprove this statement, because the judges didn’t even mention this during the hearing.
In the cassation appeal, however, I did mention this moment, and the fact that the investigators got me wrong, that I didn’t mean anything like that on that page. I was only concerning ecology. No one really paid attention to that. But one thing is definitely true – our cases with Ivan were falsified. I don’t deny that I had... certain moments in my novels, but they were never anti-soviet, even now I don’t feel anything radically bad towards the USSR. The only thing I was willing for back then, was the independence of Ukraine. The empire had to go down. And during the investigation I stressed on this fact: “You’re accusing me of wrong things. I never agitated against the Soviet Union. I may be accused of “anti-state agitation”, yes. Because I never hid the fact that I want to ruin the empire. I want Ukraine to be independent.”. And when I said this, they answered that there was no such accusation article in the criminal code. So, basically, they were sentencing me by these fake accusations. And I should say, that the investigators were right when stated that Ukraine is being ruined by Russians. It’s true, but all I wanted to say, was that I never wrote of it in my novels.
As I said, I do have certain open statements in my novels, but they were never criminal. The Soviet Criminal Code has precise articles on agitation against the Soviet Government, but I never had any of those statements in my works. In Shmelev’s poems, for example, there were phrases like: “I run into Reagan’s office, saying, “give me a neutron bomb to destroy the Soviet power!”.”. Ukrainians. On their side had other goals, like destroying the empire to gain freedom, but we were never trialled for that, for some reason.
For example, I was accused of gathering a meeting about Ukraine leaving the USSR. Looking back now, I see that we were simply normal people. If a meeting is needed, why can I not share my thoughts there? Today, we may say the same things we said back then. And those, who repressed us back then, talk the same today as they did back then, but somehow they don’t repress us. Now, for some reason, they don’t see us talking criminal.
Pryhodko G.A.: In 1988 it became clear that they were going to release us, even without our consent. Two or three weeks before that release I wrote to the Prosecutor General, saying that according to my sentence, I have yet to serve 7 years, together with the exile, and I insist on serving full term if my sentence will not be fully cancelled. That was the first note to him. After that I sent him another one, repeating the first demand about cancellation and rehabilitation. I also wrote that having understood that we were simply brought to the fact of release without our consent, I ask for permission to carry and use fire arms, because I will be released back into the society full of bandits, like those who imprisoned me in the first place, so, obviously, I will need to defend my self somehow.
Naturally, I got no answer to those notes. I already told you how they released us. It was on the 8th of July 1988. The whole concentration camp had just three people left – me, Niklus and Romashov. Or was there someone in the yard?
Ovsienko V.V.: We were on a non-cell regime then. Me, Ivan Landyba, Mykola Gorbal, Enn Tarto, Mykhailo Alekseev. Three of us were Ukrainians, and we were moved out from Vsehsviatska street on 12th of August 1988. Alekseev and Tarto stayed after us and were released later, on 2nd of December.
Pryhodko G.A.: Ah, yes. You were on non-cell regime then. That’s why I could only contact Niklus and Romashov. I told them that I was told to prepare for release, and found out that they had the same order.
THE FIRST IMPRISONMENT
Pryhodko G.A.: Concerning the first imprisonment. I forgot to say something. I arrived at the 36th concentration camp in February 1975. I was sentenced to 5 years of strict regime, without exile. But I was sentenced in Russia, where they usually gave two-three years less. However, I only spent a few months in the prison, because that was when the political prisoners started their movement for gaining rights, and, of course, I took part in it. The main deal was that we denied compulsory labor, and I mean compulsory, not any other. We applied officially for our demands and after that they started repressions against us. Lightly at first – 2 to 5 days in isolation, then – 10 days. Before this they denied us access to the cafeteria and things like that. It came later to permanent isolation. I had once spent 60 days in isolation. Every 15 days they walked me to the guards office and asked: “Ready to work?”, - “Not compulsory work.”, - “Another 15 days then!”. And it all went round. On the fourth 15-days isolation period they opened the cage and major Fiodorov asked: “How about getting to work? We will feed you.”, - “Major, you’ve done your job. Go home.”. So he did. After those last 15 days I was taken straight to trial where they gave me another 3 years of imprisonment. We stood trial together with Volodymyr Roketskiy.
Later, in autumn, we were taken to Volodymyrsliy prison together with Roketskiy. We spent 3 years there. We denied compulsory labor straight away, after arrival, so we were taken to strict regime straight away.
Ovsienko V.V.: For how long?
Pryhodko G.A.: 4 months each. There was no discrimination. After all the horror we’ve been through before that, another 4 months made as almost transparent.
Ovsienko V.V.: How many calories are meant for prisoners in that prison per day on strict regime?
Pryhodko G.A.: More than in the isolation cell. Just under 2000 calories. 1800, maybe.
We survived just fine. We didn’t work, and there were around 50 of us gathered together from different camps. All the women were in Mordovia, none of them were in Volodymyrskiy prison then. As soon as the strict regime sentence ran to its end, isolation cells started again. We were forbidden to by stuff from the shop for so long that I was left with no teeth powder and soap to keep my self clean. I even wrote to the head of the USSR presidium asking for the needed things. My letter, however, didn’t reach him.
To keep our teeth at least a bit clean, we brushed them that stinking soap. We were left with no hygiene items for the whole imprisonment term, even though the Criminal Code stated that food could not be bought on “unearned money”, whereas soap and other hygiene elements were possible to buy.
And then suddenly all the torture ended. We still couldn’t buy anything in the shop, but nobody bothered us, even though we still didn’t do compulsory labor. I found out later what happened. Somewhere in the beginning of 1976 Kosygin flew to Canada and some local guy handed him a check for 1 000 000 dollars. He said that this money for those prisoners in the Volodymyrskiy prison who deny compulsory labor. He said that this money was to feed us.
Ovsienko V.V.: Interesting fact. I’ve never heard of it.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, that’s what happened. That’s what we were told. It was the information we received from out of the prison.
I’ve had a few other interesting situations. There was a military rocket base in Volodymyr town. I served in that base during my military term. I found out later, during my imprisonment that there was a young lieutenant in that base, whom I knew. I found out because the head of the prison entered our cell one day and said: “Grygoriy Andriyovych, greetings to you from Sasha.”. I was confused because I couldn’t understand who was he talking about. “Who is Sasha?”, - “The senior lieutenant, Sasha.”, - “Oh, ok. How do you know him, then?”, - “He serves here, in the rocket military base.”, - “I know. But how do you know about it, captain?”, - “I was in a trolleybus when he approached me and asked about you.”.
I thought he was lying, but I found out later that he wasn’t. The funny part of the story is that there were a few people in the military base who remembered me, and were simply interested about how I was doing in the prison, but the regime got anxious of such connections.
Later on marshal Grechko, the Minister of Defense, died. Other guys started asking me, as I was the only military person among them: “Who will be the Minister now?”, - “Ustinov.”, - “How’s that? He’s no marshal.”, - “Doesn’t matter, he’s the one.”. And I was right. In a week’s time he was given the rank of marshal and became the new Minister of Defense. I guess, that after that my cellmates became a bit suspicious about me.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, I understand why.
Pryhodko G.A.: There was this other moment, when everything has taken its place. I took the “Krasnay Zvezda” magazine and saw the report from the court hall. If I remember correct, it was Marchenko’s hearing. He was a criminal, working with the Germans, in their police, I think... And there was this man entering the hall, all white haired. The court called out his name and status, he was a soviet infiltrator, who recognized this criminal. And there was another interesting moment. The accuser was the Prosecutor of Moscow. The Moscow regional court was the location of that trial, and they were trialling him as a military criminal. He committed a crime in Sumy and Donetsk, but they trialled him in Moscow. I read this in two newspapers and then wrote an appeal the Prosecutor General, concerning the fact that military crimes should be trialled by tribunal and in the location of the crime, not in another country. I also wrote about the “white haired” infiltrator, because he made a career inside Germany, while serving as an infiltrator, and the only to make a career back then, was through murder of soviet people, so he should also be accused and judged. And that appeal went through.
Two weeks after that 2 men came from Moscow, and that was around the same time when that lieutenant Sasha was asking about me. These men said they were from the USSR KGB and started interrogating me: “Do you know where the rocket military base is situated?”, - “No. I am not going to tell you.”, - “Why?”, - “Because I signed a nondisclosure agreement on the matter.”, - “Do you have acquaintances in that military base?”, - “Maybe, because those I served together with, still serve there.”, - “Who exactly?”, - “I will not tell you.”, - “Well, we’re interested.”, - “If you are, you may take the appropriate materials from the military base, if they will let you, and check, who of those currently serving, served with me back in the days.”, - “Well then, do you really know where the base is?”, - “I do, of course.”, - “ And you will not tell us?”, - “No.”, - “And how much time do you need to find it?”, - “15 minutes.”, - “That little?”, - “Yes. Let’s try.”, - “No, we will not experiment.”, - “Ok.”, - “Thank you, take care.”. And they let me go. I was witty enough to understand, that the man standing trial was an officer of the rocket forces. Because later on, those KGBs asked of the Volodymyrskiy headquarters, and not of any other bases. There had been no more articles of the trial, but there were articles of general Marchenko, so I understood that I was right in my thoughts.
Two months before my term was to end, the head of the prison called me and said: “Well, Grygoriy Andriyovych, it’s time for you to be leave. You will probably be telling around, how awful and scary it’ here, right?”, - “Oh no, I will do nothing like that.”, - “Why not?”, - “Who would believe me anyway? No sane man would believe in the things you’re doing behind these walls.No, I will be telling everyone, that this is a nice place with good food and accommodations.”, - “Oh no! Please don’t. Please, go telling around that this is an awful place, that we beat you up here.”, - “Why do you want that?”, - “People should fear us.”.
So the time came for my shift to an ordinary prison, and just before that I got 15 days in the isolation cell. But 2 days before that terms was to end they took me out, walked me to the bathing premises and then straight to the militia truck. “Guys, give me back my stuff, please.”, - “Yeah-yeah, we’ll bring it to you.”. And they actually did. Just me and the guards in the car and we drove on.
Then we stopped and I was told to get out. We came to some military base and swapped cars and moved on. We drove for about 20 minutes and stopped again. Swapped cars again and kept on driving. Upon approaching the train station I noticed that there a truck full of armed guards just ahead of us. We arrived at the back entrance and the guards stood on each side of me as I walked ahead. That was two days before the end of my term. I was then taken to an isolation cell at “Stolypin”.
Ovsienko V.V.: Oh yes, there’re nine cells.
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes, the isolation cell was the ninth. I tried to find out the reason for such treatment, called for the commander, but all they told me was that that was the regime.
Then they took me to Chusova. Locals met me there, and the terms there better. All as usual: dogs around, people talking... I also found out that was a special regime there and probably because of me. They feared me because of my acquaintances at the military base and because my forecast of Ustinov’s ministership was correct. That was my big mouth – it gave me an additional problem.
Upon my arrival at the concentration camp, I felt easier, because the terms there were better. Besides, we decided that our non-labor protest should end. We survived 3 years at Volodymyrskiy prison and was worth a lot.
So we got to work.
Then some other campaign started. The main organizers were Proniuk, Sergienko and Sverstiuk. I was helping out.
Ovsienko V.V.: Which camp was that at?
Pryhodko G.A.: No. 36. In Kuchyno.
Ovsienko V.V.: When was it?
Pryhodko G.A.: In 1978. My job was to rewrite all the materials and make them really small. It took me a month. There were 300 pages of printed text.
Ovsienko V.V.: Wow!
Pryhodko G.A.: Yes. I even managed to take it away with me, but not all of it. Proniuk was the main organizer. I then had to travel to Kyiv and meet his wife Halyna Didkovska to hand her the package.
But let’s return to the camp issues. By the time autumn came, the boiler house was repaired and I happened to get in as one of the state members together with Ievhen Sverstiuk. The first thing he said was: “Grygoriy Andriyovych, this means something. The fact that they put us here together. We won’t stay here for long.”. And he was right. After 4-5 days and I was thrown into the isolation cell. Ievhen was shifted away from that prison. For some reason we were all getting shifted sideways from that prison. It came out later, that they threw me into the isolation cell so nobody knew that I was also getting shifted. I was taken back to Volodymyrskiy prison, was then released and came to see my mother in Dnipropetrovsk region for christmas in 1979.
I then had to go to Kyiv, so I went to the authorities to certify my leave. There were some bureaucratic problems with that, because I couldn’t catch the prosecutor. Dealt with that, chose the time and first went to Synelnykove, to see my brother. I woke up in the night, quietly, so no one would hear, went to the train station and bought a ticket to Kyiv.
I came to Kyiv, found the needed apartment, told the owner that I needed to see Halyna Didkivska. She came straight away and told me to go with her to Hryts Hrytsak, which we did. In the taxi I quietly, without saying a word, handed her a small note. We came to Hryts, he open a bottle of wine... On the way back, Halyna said that the owner of the apartment I was to stay at aslready knew we were coming.
Later I received a letter from Viktor Rodionov. He had a conversation with Ievhen Proniuk, who gave me his regards and mentioned that I had done a very important thing by bringing that package out of the prison walls.
Although, I didn’t managed everything. I did bring the text out, in parts. It was Ievhen’s poem, but I don’t remember what it was called. I didn’t give everything away. The sealed package was one thing, but the poem... I wrote it down on a tissue and was carrying around openly on my jacket and no one thought that there was a whole poem written there. I passed all the shifts with it but then, just before traveling to Kyiv, I disclosed it. I made a mistake, so, sadly, I had burn it to get rid of evidence. If I wouldn’t have, I could have passed it on to Halyna and all would have been ok, but... Why did I disclose it? I wanted to check whether the text survived, because I was traveling with it for more than to months.
On the day I had to give everything to Halyna, we had to meet near on of the municipal buildings. That morning I felt that I was being followed and later saw the man who was following. Trying to get rid the tail I made a mistake by taking a taxi to the place where we had to meet. While waiting for Halyna I noticed that there many militiamen around me. When Halyna appeared out of the bus and went towards me, I hissed: “Tail”. She understood me correctly and walked passed like we weren’t acquainted. The militia officer approached me and asked for my documents: “Why are you in Kyiv? Why are you not in Synelnykove?”, - “I still don’t have a supervisor. I came to Kyiv to visit friends.”, - “Who exactly?”, - “You wouldn’t want to know.”, - “And who’s that woman?”, - “Why, d’you want get to know her closer?”, - “No-no.”, - “I can’t help you, then.”, - “Do you mind if I copy you ID details?”, - “No, please, go ahead.”, - “So, why are you still in Kyiv?”, - “My train is at 2100. I can’t leave earlier.”. And that was it. He walked away.
Halyna approached me, and I said: “You’re not going with me to the train station. There might be another tail.What should I do with the letter?”, - “I don’t know, I might get searched through.”, - “True. Ok, take me to the metro, and I’ll destroy it.”. She walked me to the metro, I got the train station, and went straight for the toilet, tore the letter apart and flushed it. I came to the ticket office and noticed two men watching me. Four hours I spent there, and so did they. But just watching, no checks and searching. They turned around left only after I took the ticket from the counter. A few minutes before the train, some friends came to see me off, but Halyna wasn’t among them. And thus I left Kyiv.
And that was the operation connected to the prison no.36. That prison was an active one. By active, I mean that they had done a lot for the establishment of political prisoners. And so was the Volodymyrskiy prison, because there was a lot of information there. We all worked hard back then, and we succeeded. I don’t a single person who backed down during the process. At least there were no people like that around me. Everybody was consciously doing what they saw right and worthy. And that was back at the time when there still were special regime status in Mordovia.
Ovsienko V.V.: In Sosnovka.