STASIV-KALYNETS Iryna Onufriyivna
author: Vasyl Ovsiyenko
Ovsienko V.V.: On the 26th of June 2008, at the house of Iryna and Igor Kalynets. Vasil Ovsienko is recording the interview.
Kalynets I.: I was born in Lviv in a working class family. The oldest memory I have from my childhood is checkists storming our flat with rummage. We had mom's relative living with us at the time, and she was part of the underground nationalist movement. The checkists tore all my things apart and broke my toys – I remember this clearly. I also remember them going around different apartments, searching for people to send to Siberia as exiles. They were doing it to get people's apartments. They left us alone because our apartment “wasn't suite” for them. I remember my mother's home village, my little sister eating dry bread with cod-liver oil – a scary memory that is, because I hated cod-liver oil. The village, however, was absolutely exhausted and even a drop of the cod-liver oil was like a life saver. My mother's relatives stayed out of the kolkhoz, thus becoming exiles of a sort. This meant that everything out of the house belonged to us no more.
Next memories are from the first grade of school №87 in Lviv with around 50 girls in the class. It was a girl's school. Only 25 girls stayed present by the end of the year – others had been taken away. Sometimes, rarely though, we received letters and were allowed to read them. Tragic letters they were, and that was my childhood.
Another thing I remember are the prohibitions. Our teacher often asked us: “Did you dare go to church? Did you dare?” Especially on Christmas. At some point, I don't remember the grade I was in, I got angry and said that I did visit the church. I could hold myself for an additional reason – I was ill and couldn't always make it to the local church. I assume, that if I hadn't had the problem of missing church, I would have held myself and stayed quiet, but I hadn't. What a storm it was then!
Everything that happened after school is a widely known story. I met Viacheslav Chornovol. We had a group of thoughtful friends – Teodosiy Starak – the First Ambassador in Poland, Bogdan Savabka – a popular explorer, Ievhen Nakonechniy and many others. We trusted each other to talk openly between us. Naturally, we didn't advertise it much to evade arrests and interrogations, because we often heard about arrests of people from other groups similar to ours. But it's also natural that since we, during our studentship, had such a closed up little community, we had to face trouble with the authorities sooner or later.
Ovsienko V.V.: When were you a student?
Kalynets I.: I entered university in 1959 and graduated in 1964. That was during the “Khrushchev's thaw” when many people, like Olga Horyn, whom I met then, Mykhailo Horyn, Teodosiy Starak could enter university exactly because of the “thaw”. Another importnant moment was that at the same time, many Ukrainians started coming in from Poland. I even remember the first time I met them in Kiev in 1961. Being a student, I took part in the holiday activities honoring Shevchenko and that was the place I met all the mentioned people. These boys and girls added a very interesting flow into my life – they were so open and honest that looked alien in Kiev. That was around the time I met Ivan Drach and Mykola Vinhranovskiy. Soon after, they came to Lviv. Their meetings had many young students and looked noble.
Those times are nice to remember because that was my youth. And then there was the underground forbidden literature. You might remember that the Shevchenko holidays had a lot of it. The Horyn brothers played actively towards this. There was a narrow circle of people who knew all this because they were secretly linked between each other. I remember when Bogdan Zavadka came and wrote his letter after the Vernadskogo Library had been burnt down. You should've seen the KGBs running around!
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean the “Letter on Pohruzhalskiy”?
Kalynets I.:Yes, him (the mentioned letter was being spread anonymously. Ievheniy Sverstiuk was the author, Ivan Svitlychniy was the editor and Viacheslav Chornovol made the text “unrecognizable” so the expertise wouldn't identify the author – Ovsienko V.V.). We sread thhe letter as widely as we could. The KGBs wouldn't have forgiven this because they had already payed certain attention to our underground publications activity. The authorities could've missed a new publication if it had no recalls of the KGB but if had, they would've grabbed us soon as they found out.
The first arrest had Horyn brothers, Mykhailo Osadchiy, Marusya Zvarychevska got involved. Our Kiev friends had been present on the first court hearing (18.04.1966 – Ovsienko V.V.). I also remember demonstrations when militia used water jets against us, like they do in America. We saw that as democracy coming in.
Ovsienko V.V.: We caught on America.
Kalynets I.: Yeah.
Ovsienko V.V.: Who came to see you?
Kalynets I.: Lina Kostenko, for example. She stayed at my place. Oles Sergienko came with Ivan Dziuba. I remember this well because we all gathered at the house of Olena Antoniv, wife of Viacheslav Chornovol... Wait. Sorry, I've mistaken myself. All the people mentioned above came to the court trial of Viacheslav Chornovol (15.11.1967 – Ovsienko V.V.). And the Horyn trial in Kiev... I don't remember...
Ovsienko V.V.: Lina Kostenko was present – that's for sure.
Kalynets I.: Yes, she was, of course.
Ovsienko V.V.: And Mykola Holodniy.
Kalynets I.: Oh, yes! Mykola was present but I can't recall anyone else. The people I mentioned before, they were present at the trail of Chornovol, yes. Lina was present at both trials. There was a special moment in all this – Nadiika was righting down the whole trial and when the guards spotted her, they quietly took her away to another room so me and Lina ran after her to help. You should've seen Lina go! She entered the room like a queen. As soon as the the guards saw her they retreated and started explaining that they had no accusations against Nadiia Svitlychna and they just wanted to talk to her. At that point I said: “Nadiika, let's go” and we just left.
Those were the active and interesting times. As you may know, Viacheslav Chornovol had plans start up the “Ukrainian messenger”. He was doing the start up not even according to the “Rule of three” but to the rule of “I'll do it all myself”. This meant that no one knew anything, no one had any links and connections. I know that this was his plan because we discussed all this. He was a great conspirator. It's hard to say for sure, but the “Ukrainian messenger” might have been the last straw that broke the camel's back and forced the arrests of 1972. Chornovol had been prepared for this. He had been warned of getting arrested after his first book as well as after the second one (“Woe from Wit” or the portraits of twenty convicts”, 1967; “What and how does B. Stenchuk defend”, 1969 – Ovsienko V.V.). Liudmyla Dashkevych, after printing three editions of the “messenger”, realized that someone else should have started publishing it instead. That's what she told me later. By that time Chornovol had been prepared for the arrests. The christmas of 1972, when Vasil Stus came over, had us all waiting for arrests. We travelled by three: me and Chornvol – we saw Stus off, drove pass the KGB house in Lviv... I remember this clearly, it happened on the Stefania holiday, on the 9th of January. I took a glimpse at the KGB house and said: “Oh, the witch hunt has begun. We await arrests”.
Ovsienko V.V.: Exactly the same thing was said to me today by Stefa Shabatura. With one difference – she said this took place on the New Year eve.
Kalynets I.: No. That was Vasiliy going to Kiev We stayed at Stefa's place for the holiday eve. Chornovol came to see us so we would see him off. We didn't know it was our last meeting...
At that time I was mainly working on the previous attendant of the Helsinki Group – it was Viacheslav Chornovol's dream to create a Committee on defending the rights Ukrainians. He was very accurate in terms of analyzing the situation when he said that even if Moscow has a similar Committee it doesn't mean we have to be part of it. He claimed that a separate Ukrainian Committee should exist. And then, being the careful genius he was, he decided that the Committee's activity should start with defending Nina Strokata (“Public Committe on defending Nina Strokata” - the first legal human rights organization in Ukraine. Created after the arrest of Nina Strokata-Karavanska, a citizen of Odessa, on 6.12.1971. The defendants were Lviv citizens Viacheslav Chornovol and Iryna Kalynets, Kiev citizen Vasil Stus, Odessa citizen Leonid Tymchuk and a Moscow human rights defendant Petro Yakir. Publication and distribution of the bulletin No.1 on the 21st of December was the only activity of the mentioned Committee. On 12.01.1972 Chornovol, Kalinets and Stus had been arrested and the Committee factually, stopped its existence – Ovsienko V.V.). I was then sent to Nina, to Odessa. I still remember that all the clothes I was wearing was borrowed – I had no winter clothes of my own.
Ovsienko V.V.: Nina had been arrested on the 6th of December 1971.
Kalynets I.: Yes, and I came to see her in the beginning of December because she gave a clear notice that something has happened and Chornovol assigned me to go and see her straight away. I had been photographed during the journey – it's funny to remember this now. Luckily there had been no searches neither on the way there, nor on the way back. Nina told me she was waiting to get arrested. As she said, she made a mistake: she handed the “messenger” in front of two people instead of one. This doesn't mean that someone told in on her you know. We wrote to each other instead of talking when sat in the same room. There might have been a whisper of some sort, and it's not hard to clarify whispers if you posses certain technologies. Whatever really happened, they got Nina and when I returned home, me and Viacheslav knew that she might have already been arrested. We were right by the way, she has been arrested by then but the materials we needed had been acquired so that was good and done.
I should say that when I recall the “messenger” and the Committee I think that we underestimated the boiling point of the KGB against us. I understood this later on, when the Helsinki Group hwas created. Chornovol was very clear (we kept contact from exile) what all this might end like and was against the fact that Stus, together with other poets, took part in all this. Viacheslav always said that the organization needs new people. I remember these words like he said them yesterday. Stus left, he was very lonely and he wrote about it: “No, I can not listen to you. I will do what I intended to do and will accept the consequences”.
This was the beginning of a dark line for all of us. The thing we feared the most for our boys was the criminal prison. For Stus however, his special wasn't easier for him I guess.
And once they were set free there was no employment. If you possessed a diploma you couldn't attend an ordinary job. On the other hand you couldn't attend an ideological job for the same reason, so there was always a reason to be denied a job...
But I would also like to recall the concentration camp. Or better yet – the exile, because Stus said that he felt nostalgic about writing. Why? Because you were only allowed two letters in the concentration camp, although there was a possibility to be exchanging small notes between the prisoners and we kept using that small possibility. We could even climb to the roof and see our boys from a distance. We shouted songs to Vasil and he replied then, with a note, saying; 'I heard something squeal from behind the fence. “Through windows, wet from all the rains. Through separation and street lights. Girls voices touched my veins. With flower scent like wine glass... Their songs so blossoming this night. My heart is with you, unlike my eye.”
The camp it self was average. Not many women, but any activities or public demonstrations didn't go on without us, and this fact couldn't get settled in Paruiro Airikian's head – a friend of ours. He thought that we should have cared better for ourselves which we weren't doing at all. But he was Caucasian and they have different views from ours.
Once in exile we could exchange letters easier and even call each other. I remember Vasiliy Stus calling me to the phone urgently and says that he's going on hunger strike because the guards wouldn't let him visit his dying father, even thought the doctors have sent an official notice. Straight away I said that we will do the same and then called Stefa and Chornovol, who had a straight connection with the prison. This way we covered the whole lot of political prisoners, not only those in exile but every one of them because a phone is a phone and Viacheslav reacted in person. I don't know how he did it but all political prisoners stood as one for Stus and went in hunger strike together with him.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was the summer of 1978.
Kalynets I.: Probably, yes.
Ovsienko V.V.: Vasil Stus came to Donetsk and talked to his father, who died the next day (7.08.1978 – Ovsienko V.V.).
Kalynets I.: Yes. He even had his vacation extended for a few days because initially he was given only three days. I can't recall whether he wrote a letter or a telegram to Rudenko but it said something like: “Hurry up, Prosecutor General, so your sons make it to see you on your deathbed”. I didn't know Rudenko was actually dying then. I don't know anything about his sons or daughters but what I saw was the strength of political prisoners which they had shown openly – Stus was granted vacation to see his father.
The revenge on Vasil was quite hard too, especially from his natives. You might know that there was this guy in exile with him who really wanted to talk to Vasil, but once Vasil found out that that man was from Ukraine he denied even shaking hands with him. The man promised to pay back. That's what Vasil wrote to me in his letters. Sadly, the letters have been lost but I remember many of them. There was this time when I had to burn certain letters which could be any proof of our underground activities. I was burning them and crying and then the KGBs came with a search the next day.
Ovsienko V.V.: Vasil Stus did the same with his letters – he burnt them.
Kalynets I.: Yes, we actually exchanged thoughts on this subject. We both knew the KGBs always tried to pick on every word. Ihor was surprised: “How did you know? How did you feel it?”
The KGBs asked me about the letters from Vasil Stus and I offered them to dig through my back yard. Of course they didn't do as I offered – they understood that there were no letters hidden for them to have found. We had many ways of exchanging letters, even in exile. For example I would send a letter to Rasmik Markosian inside a honey jar and would write a short notice saying: “Eat the honey first. Rasmik however, decided not to eat the honey first. If the same thing would have been done with Chornovol, he would have eaten the honey first thing. As a result, when the officers came to search Rasmik, they found the letter hidden in the honey. Who's fault is that? The search only took place because they had some thoughts on possible smuggling. This was probably the most interesting time in exile – when we exchanged letters with everyone we could.
Now I think that we were impossibly romantic back then, fantasizing that the regime will not hold too long, that the regime was already falling. I remember the hunger strike in support of Vasil Stus between us women, I remember major Charodeev, the head of medical department saying to us: Hunger strike? Great! Great, because he needs to be treated! Do you understand?” The trick was that we all had strong faith back then, but the events today make me sad...
Ovsienko V.V.: You gave me such a short story and I hoped for a long one, about your arrest, the interrogations...
Kalynets I.: there's not much to tell I'm afraid. I have a few friends here, they work with publishing memories and letters of political prisoners from those horrible, Stalin days. You your self are aware that what happened later is not to be compared with the times we're talking about. I think that psychology nowadays has enough knowledge and practice to show a full picture. Among others who know for sure are Israeli psychologist Cohen or Viktor Frankl. It was a period of shock, when you simply don't accept the truth and it was common for all of us. Concentration camps which we arrived to had already been waiting for us, they knew we were coming. Darka Husiak, my named sister, also was there and we still keep contact. She's a popular woman, a great person. She visits the same church we do, the church of Stefania as we call it. Maria Palchak is another girl who was there back then. Catherine Zaritska wasn't present, Nina Strokata was the only one to have met her. Ira Senik came to us later, also a named sister of mine. She's not so well anymore, I came to see to her last year... (passed away 8.08.2006 – Ovsienko V.V.)
When we were thrown into the isolation cell with Nadiika I would read Tuvim or Staff poetry to her in Polish and she translated them. We had to remember everything because they denied us any pens or paper in the isolation cells. Nadiika, by the way, remembered all those poems I made up in the cell.
What can I say about the search? I remember that they came early morning, around six o'clock, and said: “Telegram”. Ihor left around the same time, he had some kind work trip to a meeting of young poets somewhere in Briuhovychy village I think. And since I had to go to school (I worked as a teacher for a group of children left late, I wasn't trusted to do anything more), my mother came to spend some time with a little child so he wouldn't stay alone. Besides, I could have returned some time soon. So when the officers came I said: “The child needs to get to school”. Ok. I blinked to my little first grade student and she understood straight away that she needed to visit Stefa. When the kid came back, she looked at me and I understood that Stefa had the same troubles I had – we were neighbors after all. The checkists asked me about the reasons I was sending the child anywhere...
They kept searching for something inside the lamp so I asked: “Found anything? You must be looking for your radio bug?” The poor KGB agent fell off the chair he stood on after these words.
They took me into custody late in the night. My father came, Marusia Zvarychevska also came by with husband... They had some troubles too after that.
When they took me to my cell I saw three dark humps inside and understood that I wasn't the only one arrested that night. That was the 12th of January.
I was pretty angry because I was tired – I spent the whole day on my feet. So when the KGB head, Chugaiov, came to see me all square-like as if he jumped off German comic book pages, I simply didn't want to talk to him. How's that? A tired lady forced to talk to someone? That's what I told him and he said back that he was deeply offended that I didn't even stand up to greet him. I said that this wasn't the part where I stand up. However, my mind kept the information that the Committee on human rights organization would make me get at least one and half years of imprisonment. In any case, everything turned out to be different but I don't regret anything. The universities then were great, I acquired a lot from Silva Zalmansonn, whom you might remember, from Nina Strokata and Iryna Senyk. And especially from Darka Husiak, who kept learning English and developing herself all the time. The concentration camp had a big library with many books left after Catherine Zaritska. She had been reading some very interesting peaces of literature on philosophy. Apart from that we could receive books by mail. These “books via mail” took all the money we earned in the camp. I remember this one time when I sent a request, saying “esteemed ms.” or “... mr”... I requested a book of Tuvim and a book of Staff and received five books – with additional three volumes of Adam Asnyk. I also received a short notice saying: “Dear Iryna, please stop calling me ms. I allowed myself to add an additional Polish poet to your choice – the one I personally really like”.
This was so touching you know! I knew who was the person writing to me and she also knew that I was a Ukrainian prisoner but wrote sincerely. The strangest thing was that Almaaty was friendlier with us during the imprisonment than dear Ukraine. Don't you find it strange?
During the imprisonment in the concentration camp we wrote letters to each other with Paruir Airikian and sent greetings through Zalmannson. It was like a separate university of our own. We exchanged letters with you and many others afterwards.
Ovsienko V.V.: There was this search around 1975, when they took away all the poetry, handmade, paintings and claimed that all of it had been destroyed as worthless objects. That was during the International female year.
Kalynets I.: As far as I remember they didn't takeaway poetry. They were, however, very angry with Stefa Shabatura so they did confiscate her paintings even though she was claiming her right to keep the paints. In our notifications we claimed that her imprisonment sentence never said “no right to write or paint”. Stefa even held a hunger strike, a serious one actually, until she was permitted to as mentioned above. When she had been permitted to paint they kept watching her every move, and the moment they saw something they didn't like... It occurred so that she wasn't supposed to draw portraits. She drew a portrait of me – a really nice one, maybe the best portrait of me I ever saw, but they still took it away and destroyed it. Or at least they said to have destroyed it. There were protest afterwards, of course... This story sad but interesting nevertheless.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ok, how about a happy story then?
Kalynets I.: Ok! As you know, the camp produced woolen gloves. There were also old religious ladies in the prison. They called themselves “Truly orthodox christians”. They had Tyhon as their patriarch and after he had passed away, factually, Satan's reign took place. Those grandmas were very interesting. They were all illiterate, they didn't even know written letters. They always asked us to buy them some notebooks. I don't know what they wrote in them but they kept asking us for those notebooks and we kept buying them for the old ladies. We thought they were writing prayers in those notebooks. There were younger ladies though. Nadia Usoeva, Raia Ivanova, they died a bad death – locked up in the mad house with acceptance of their relatives. I greave for them.
And then one evening we had a whole lot of officers drop by for another search through. We didn't know what were they searching for. They came into one of the rooms in the back and found one of the old ladies, who was too old to even walk so she had nothing to do. She was making toilet paper out of newspapers. So the KGBs started reading those papers like there could have been something illegal on them. At the end they called us and asked about what those papers were. I said: “Toilet paper” and they started shouting: “Destroy it! Get rid of it!”, so I said: “Ok, but not right now”. That was funny I must say. I couldn't understand what the deal was or what were they searching for. I found out later that our old ladies were armed with poetry which had lines like these: “We had dreams of mr. Lenin – he's your soviet parasite. Like a dog in hell he's stinking and his soul is all on fire”. That's what the ladies wrote in the notebooks and hid in their gloves.
Ovsienko V.V.: Wow!
Kalynets I.: The gloves were to be exported from the prison and then they found out about these hidden messages. The dilemma was that the old ladies couldn't have been thrown into isolation cells because they were too old. Nina Karavanska said to this: “There you have it, political prisoners! Look at what they had done!” We asked the old ladies about the period they had been doing this and they said: “Over a year now, honey”. So someone told in on them after a year of the mentioned activities. So there were these really funny situations in the concentration camps. We were never bored there. We never lost hope because we knew that this would end some day. The old ladies were telling us of the islands which await us because the world, as they said, was at its end. And I told them of different traditions in return – christmas, New Year and especially the Green holidays and how they appeared. They really liked those stories. They would spend ten hours every day praying and every time they had a spare minute they came to me for more stories. They came to me so I gave them what they wanted, but... that was all in Russian. I can tell you in Russian if it's ok.
Ovsienko V.V.: Of course.
Kalynets I.: So I said: “Ladies, I'll be telling of pre-christian times, you know”. They looked back at me and said: “Ira.. God has always been there for us”. It was so so surprising to hear for me: these totally illiterate women had such a deep understanding of God. Of course we were celebrating all the holidays separately from each other. There was this one time when me and Tania were thrown into the isolation cell on the New Year eve and then in the morning they opened the door for a guard woman to enter. She handed us a few eggs so no one saw it and whispered: “Happy holiday. But be careful so nobody sees the eggshells”. This was strange because there never any eggs at the camp. Later we played the traditional song for our boys but I didn't hear them reply.
Ovsienko V.V.: The movie of Stanislav Chernilevskiy named “The dark candle of the light way”, a movie about Stus had this scene. Have you seen it?
Kalynets I.: You mean the part where I tell this story?
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes.
Kalynets I.: Yes, yes. There many letters. Viacheslav used to say: “I'm the only one who can understand the hand writing of my wife's bride's maid”. He also said that I was always writing a lot. He, however, never wrote less than me – he would use a half of a notebook while writing letters to me. Each letter could only be handed over from time to time, only when there was a convoy or trusted people traveling in the needed direction. Some people had special features. Airikian, for example, whistled special melodies so we knew he wanted to talk. He was a great whistler by the way.
Ovsienko V.V.: I wish you ever heard what a great singer he was! Once up on a time I was spending time in an isolation cell and he was somewhere near. And when he started singing even the guards didn't dare stop him, so strong was his voice.
Kalynets I.: Yes. He also had a good ear for it. I remember when he came to Lviv. I was at home then and I heard his melodic singing from the stairs. I opened the door and actually saw him in person! That was when our boys travelled to Moscow to take part in the Greek-Catholic trial together with Hiell Ivan.
After all, as you might know, there were almost no contacts because we were imprisoned.
That's how it was.
Then there was the return to Lviv. Igor stayed in exile for another year and I went home... The head of the exile in Siberia was an interesting man by the way. He was a KGB named Kulikov. He understood everything that was going on.
Ovsienko V.V.: Could you please name the territory you are talking about?
Kalynets I.: Undino-Poselie in Zabaikalie. That's right in Balei, in Balei region. Igor once said: “Listen, this year is the year of Mother and Child. You should go home”. I had to go home because there were certain juridical deeds to have been done around getting a Lviv registration, even though Lviv was considered to be a regime city without a possibility of registration. Stefa Shabatura was in Liviv by that time and she also had plenty of problems with getting her registration. I said that I will not go to any militia office: I was initially arrested by the KGB, so let them solve this issue. Cherpak was the head of the department at that time. He was very different from locals, maybe because he originated from Dnipropetrovsk or because he survived the hunger. He also used to say that we were the first women he saw, who feared absolutely nothing. He meant me and Stefa Shabatura. For comparison, there was this guy – Kurapov – who is actually still present here as head of the Lenin regional committee supported by the Party of Regions... Or another example, Georgiy... I forgot his surname, but he was the son of a popular checkist. These two people tried to pick on Stefa wherever they saw her and talked bad language at me.
Finally we got a registration and when Igor arrived he was also registered... Mykhailo Osadchiy had more problems then us because he had served two terms by that time. He had previously been registered in Pustomyty region but that issue was solved after all. Viacheslav had similar problems but after all... All this regime thing was going down you know... And we could feel it in everything around us. Upon his return, Viacheslav continued his work on the “Ukrainian Messenger”. We decided to increase the number of people to start publishing articles about culture, arts and literature – I mean the “Evshan zillia” magazine. Ivan Hiell was publishing the “Chrisitainkiy Holos” magazine – about the fate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Yaroslav Lesiv was also into something, Ivan Sokulskiy was also publishing a magazine at the time.
Ovsienko V.V.: “Porohy”.
Kalynets I.: Yes. We kept in touch between each other. We were working on making more magazines and not just political but different. That's why “Evshan zillia” for example, already had articles about destroyed pieces of art belonging to famous Ukrainian artists. The mentioned magazine also had information on those who destroyed the paintings. The first question raised in the magazine was the question on Ukrainians tortured and killed by the NKVD agents. I remember the first meeting we had, a really small one. It took place at the cemetery, near the grave of Bogdan-Igor Antonych. We gathered there and read his and other poems to each other. Igor also took a word. Antonych was also repressed in his time. His poems were considered legal around 1960s and then banned again. It was normal for the Soviet regime.
Many new and interesting people started publishing their creations even though they were using pseudonyms.
1989 started, as you might remember with your trip to the grave Vasil, Lytvyn and Tyhiy. I remember that before that I told Dmitriy: “I know your father, he will never come back on his own will”. Dmitriy answered: “You might be right”. So all three of them came back. I was in Kiev at the time and was coordinating the funeral.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes. Dmitriy payed special attention to your role. I would ask you tell of your participation personally.
Kalynets I.: Dmitriy called some time before and told me he was going. He also said that he wanted me in Kiev because you were going to get the body with two other people. I was leaving late because I had a meeting here with priests. I left late and when I arrived, Oksana helped me to get into the routine. I talked to Mykhailo Horyn and others...
Ovsienko V.V.: Oksana Dvorko, Stus's bride?
Kalynets I.: Yes and I love her very much. So I talked to Mykhailo and others and found out that the funeral, factually, was nowhere near ready and it wasn't clear how and where to burry the body. I decided to offer Mykhailo to make this public and apply to the KGB and tell them that the funeral will take place. He declined my offer but said that it would be ok if the application came from female association. The officer in charge was a man named Barkov, if I remember correct, so we wrote to him saying: “ If you you were born a woman, you should know that it is a tradition to take your hat off during a funeral, not to chase people off”. And suddenly everything had changed. Of course, this application could have been published and the KGBs understood it straight away. But the important thing was that everything was changing and everyone felt it. So what happened next was that me and Valia were called up to the local communal office to organize everything around the funeral: where to burry, how to do it, how many people should be present... When they asked about the number of people I said: “Ten...” - and when I saw their long faces, I added: “...thousand”. They started fussing around: “Oh, yes-yes-yes, we will make all the arrangements, don't you worry about a thing”. Everything was planned – that was taken care of by Mykhailo Horyn, because the local prosecutor was very much against it.
There was one thing complicating the situation: Dmytro Korchynskiy (I think it was UNA then), someone you might remember, said that this should be a political funeral and the body should be buried on the Zamkova mountain. When he came to us and tried to lecture me I asked: “How old are you, boy?”, “Me? I'm 31.”, “When I was 31 I was already serving my term in prison. I ask you to close the door from the other side please”. He had some claims afterwards, but I said that he may burry any of his friends or relatives in any way he wants, but my brothers will be buried the way I want. In short, there were some stitches all the way through. Someone instigated Levko Lukianenko to think that Iryna had done something wrong but Oksana straightened everything out there.
Ovsienko V.V.: Excuse me, there's one thing to be said. The first meeting on the re-interment took place at some apartment and was lead by Mykhailo Horyn. Dmytro Stus came to that meeting as well as Dmytro Koechynskiy, so was I - was called upon from the village. Stus said that the body should just be buried and Korchynskiy claimed that this should be made a political action. He said something else but Stus stopped him and said: “Don't forget, he had a son”, “I'm afraid he did, yes” - Korchynskiy replied. After those words Horyn rose from his seat and verbally attacked Korchynskiy with such power that the Korchynskiy immediately ran out of the room.
Kalynets I.: Yes. However, there was no plan prepared, and that was why Dmytro called me. By the time I came I was tuned for the needed actions. I knew what I was going to do: first of all, it had to be a normal interment to pay tribute to all those people. I called to Lviv, I called upon our religious ladies, I explained the situation and asked them to come and sing as a church choir. I didn't tell them that I wanted priests to come – they knew it themselves. They brought two choirs – from Kaluzh and from Lviv Autocephalous church of Peter and Pavel.
The second question was to get the coffin. I had to talk very seriously with Mykhailo Horyn then but the meeting had been organized after all. It was freezing cold so we were running inside the airport building in turns to get some warmth. And then suddenly I heard the KGBs talking between them: “They're here”. I ran out again because I understood that the airplane must have arrived. We met the cargo... Walked with flags across the square in Boryspil. It was all very nice. At some point a militiaman approached me and asked: “Are we walking him all the way to Kiev?”, “No, of course not” – I answered. We had a problem though – where to store three coffins. We turned to Nikodym... I think Nikodym is name of the pope in an Intersession church. The same church where Valeriy Marchenko had been buried. We paid him quite a lot of money and he allowed us to keep the coffins in his backyard. He let us in even though it was 3:00 am and I was sure that everything is ok, so I went to bed calm and positive. Everything was settled – the route of the procession by car and by foot. We planned it all. Korchynskiy was shown his place and never showed up again. Petro Kohuy was a great help. We bought 2000 candles which had been split into 4 parts,so 8000 people now had candles... We made flyers and we agreed on the content for them. I should mention that Valia and Oksana – from the “Ruh” organization – did a great job. Children were spreading those flyers around... I was mainly bothered about the text of those flyers but all of them had been printed! If you only knew how many people took part in the preparation... At half past three in the morning I closed my eyes for just a moment and the next thing I heard was the phone ringing at half past five. I was called and told that the priest was kicking us out of the church. The thing was that the people covered the coffins with Ukrainian flags although I said that this should have been done later to avoid a scandal. So when Nikodym had finished his first service with praising the Patriarch of Russ – someone someone started the second service straight away... And we had a schedule, everything was planned to the second. I knew that Mykhailo Horyn went to lead the negotiations, and people were going to be at the Sofia cathedral, right? The main thing they protested against was the idea that people should have stood in a line from the Sofia cathedral to the University. So i turned to Mykhailo Horyn and said: “You had this idea in the concentration camp, to make a human chain from Lviv to Kiev. Consider this a start”. He remembered this idea and agreed straight away. No one, however, was sure that we would have enough people. No one apart from me.
Ovsienko V.V.: How many people were present you think?
Kalynets I.: More than 15 000. Like I said, we had 8 000 candles, but that wasn't enough, even though people brought their own.
The second service started at 12 o'clock and that meant that weren't going to be at the cathedral in time. Father Yaroslav Lesiv entered the cathedral and the service had been stopped. Many people couldn't understand what was going on. People didn't know that there was a strict timetable for all the activities that day. And we weren't supposed to brake the event procedure because the authorities could've stopped everything and denied us the interment ceremony. I remember being all nervous and then father Ivan said that we had to walk the coffins around the church, and I knew that we had no time for it. He looked at me and said: “They might be canonized. We must walk them around the church”. So we did. I took a car to be at the church in time – before the coffins arrive because they were supposed to be taken past Vasil's house (Chornobylska str. 13A, Sviatoshynskiy district – Ovsienko V.V.). At ten to twelve the square in front of the church was still empty. A few people Lviv – that was it. Those people from Lviv told me: “Are we all the people to chain from From Sofia to the University?”, I said: “ Yes and we will”. I looked around and saw a group of checkists... And then at 12:00 sharp numerous buses started arriving at the square. It felt like a sack had been opened and the people started flooding the square, walking out of buses and arriving by foot from small streets. The trick was that many people were waiting near by not come too early because they feared being chased off. There were more and more people and they kept coming as if this human stream was never going to end. I ran to Petro Kohuy and told him to lead the people towards Volodymyrska square where they should be standing according to plan. There was a funny moment when I was standing still and this mass of people started walking somwhere. The KGBs saw me and one of them, Horbal said: “Well... You've won, yes...”, and I replied: “Of course I have”. So we walked up to the KGB department and started shouting anti-KGB slogans.
Ovsienko V.V.: You mentioned Horbal. Who was he? A KGB agent?
Kalynets I.: Yes, a small one.
Ovsienko V.V.: Might you mean Honchar? There were Ruban, Honchar, then Ilkiv.
Kalynets I.:A small man named Horbal. He used to come to the concentration camp. So we exchanged a few short sentences but I forgot of them soon. I was very happy that moment – it was a strong feeling to be shouting “Shame!” under the windows of the KGB department. As a result the agents cleared the square cars and trolleybuses which were blocking it in no time so the funeral would continue. This next memory, maybe, shouldn't be protocoled... I saw our boys suffering to get the coffins out of the buses and walk them as planned, but it was taking too much time... I felt that we were getting behind on the plan again so I approached them, took by the hand and lead the procession together with priests who walked a bit ahead. People were walking shoulder to shoulder holding candles. At some point Petro told me that he was out of candles – people whip them away in a flash.
So we walked to the University, which had been planned to pay tribute to Taras Shevchenko. We did that, then stopped. Not so many people went to the cemetery though, but that's easy to understand – there wasn't so much space. I hadn't been given a word but everyone who talked made a great speech.
Ovsienko V.V.: Why weren't you given a word?
Kalynets I.: I wasn't too interested anyway. Afterwards I spent some calm time with Valia and Dmitro... I was happy that I did everything I could for my beloved blood brother. It was important to stay calm because during the organization process of the interment I had no mercy for whoever stood against me.
Ovsienko V.V.: Well, the situation inclined such measures. You had to posses strong will.
Kalynets I.: Strong will... I was harsh apart from having a strong will. How did you travel?
Ovsienko V.V.: I was seated near Yuriy Lytvyn's mother in the bus. She asked me to stay close. In addtion I was very tired after traveling...
Kalynets I.: No-no. I mean the night when we were preparing everything. You were flying in from Ural. The situation was tensed then.
Ovsienko V.V.: When we started off we had the information that the funeral was going to take place at the Lisove cemetery. But in Ural we found out that everything had changed.
Kalynets I.: Yes it has. Everything changed in one moment. We applied female leverage: stood up straight and refused to step back.
Korchynskiy was turned out-of-doors, I don't know whether it was Barkov's merit or the KGB... And Mykhailo Horyn was called up by the prosecutor and told that the only place to burry the bodies was on the Lisove cemetery. And I knew that the deal was set for Baikove cemetery.
Ovsienko V.V.: Where was that settled, in the city administration?
Kalynets I.: No, the administration received an order form above. So they knew very well about the preparations. Afterwards I was told that the impression was as if the whole city was covered with those leaflets. There were many important moments to have been settled during the preparation and all who were responsible worked hard to reach the goal...
Ovsienko V.V.: This might have been the first move in Kiev to have had no problems with ripping Ukrainian flags and beating us around. Harassment, however, took place but later, during the funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr on the 18th of July 1995...
Kalynets I.: That funeral was organized wrong. It was provocative and that was the problem. This should be well known – who to address, how to organize how to let people know. And the problems started because UNA UNSO were responsible. Patriarchs shouldn't be buried in the street... Only the worst sinners are buried like that you know. Although I have had plenty arguments with Romaniuk about it. Doing so is a bad omen. The interment of Patriarch Volodymyr was not prepared at all. A few weeks ago I was organizing interment of general Roman Dashkevych. The army was taking part – it was fantastic! But it was all prepared to the slightest detail. During the preparation I contacted many people. We rehearsed everything before celebrating the 115 jubilee of Olena Stepanivna – the first female officer. During that preparation I raised all my contacts and all the contacts which had to help: schools, lyceums, recruits... 150 people took part and all of them had their roles.
After that, it was my initiative to invite children from the East of the country for christmas. Ternopilskiy and Ivano-Frankivskiy regions joined the initiative later. Next year I received a call from Donetsk and Luhansk with questions on whether I officially promise that the children will stay safe during the trip. I gave a positive response, sent the needed letters... And then one kid got ill. I think I was never so scared, but everything was ok in the end. Some things didn't go smooth of course – there were people who stood against such East-West ideas, but the nicest thing was when I heard one of the kids who travelled to the West of Ukraine on my behalf say: “Oh, I remember this place, we've been here for christmas once”. Girls from Dnipropetrovsk once came with no invitations. They travelled themselves to Lviv to take a look at the centre of Western Ukraine. These trips had no political background and that might have been the reason why the mentioned idea was pure good. Dmytro Stus was right when he claimed that these activities had been organized based on the archetype of paying tribute and that's exactly what was attractive.
And the Lion Associations which my children took part in... The first Lion Association had its first meeting at my small flat... You haven't been there, yes?
Ovsienko V.V.: No, I haven't.
Kalynets I.: the kitchen has 8 square meters. We had to take the table out for everyone to fit in and sit on the floor. Even Belorussians came to us. They raised a toast because it was the day of their city. Mariyske Association started organizing everything for celebrating and they recalled the Day of Union. I remember that Day. The front yard of the Holy Yuriy church was so full of people there was nowhere to fall. The priests played well too. They finished the service earlier and played Rachmaninov so the whole Lviv heard them. It freezing cold but more people started coming when they heard the music. Mykhailo was helping me out then – he was responsible for the media sonce he had contacts at radio “Svoboda”.
So everything was connected in those days. But if we return to subject of Patriarch Volodymyr's interment... I still think that it was a bad idea to hand the preparation to UNSO members. They shouldn't have been the ones responsible.
Ovsienko V.V.: No one put them in charge. They did it themselves.
Kalynets I.: Well, we all see who's part of it today. One should know what the government is like – it's very careful. Even those whp could actually change something for the best hesitate and stay careful. And even those who have never been enemies, like Kravchuk or Marchuk – they wouldn't act either. If one would apply tension – they would act, yes, but never on their own will. Yushchenko is the same, I'm afraid. All our intensions to justify those cruelly imprisoned and tortured in concentration camps stay untreated and former KGB are now building restaurants and houses on the ground which used to have prisons and concentration camps. Something could be changed and there are plans on how to do it, but there is just not enough critically unhappy people.
Ovsienko V.V.: Even here, in Lviv, I'm afraid.
Kalynets I.: I like my students, for example. I really do. Their a special group, very interesting and developed but even this group has half of people who don't really care and wouldn't move to act.
Another problem we face is that we have no idea about the events in Europe back then, 1960s-70s. We had our own little world which we considered the worst nightmare. But Europe had its dark times too. A complete fall of culture. Look at all the pornography flooding us from Europe, all the dirt and mess. But Europe is regaining its beauty. Slowly and surely whereas we keep falling. For me, the main symbol of all this trite nonsense is Hrabovych...
One week ago I had a meeting with children from the Junior academy. Village school boys, around thirty people. Very talented. We talked for over an hour.I told them I understood what they were interested in, because I talked mainly about Vasil. I had many meetings this year, connected to him. I told them: “Yes, opposition is possible, but try and do it. Try creating small elitist groups with no swear words, no smoking... Groups where you will behave like your elite. People might not notice at first, but see what happens next. At first you will be laughed at and picked upon. Will you stand it? It is interesting, yes. But try first”. You know, Vasil, they actually took thought. They need self establishment... Maybe not all of them, but some... I told the same things to the soviets, to recruits and many others because these questions are important. I'm tired of living in stench.
Ovsienko V.V.: Are you currently employed?
Kalynets I.: Yes, I read lectures in a University. I teach literature of the King's Epoque, starting with the “Tails of bygone years” to the “Tale of Igor's Campaign”. There was this one evening where I was to tell of Taras Shevchenko and even though I'm not professional in his biography and his work I started preparing myself. I had a month and I just couldn't let myself tell something ordinary. My attention was attracted by the fact Shevchenko uses Augustine's terms. I checked everything, and confirmed it Dashekvych. He replied that it was a discovery. As a result, my speech was headlined as “Shevchenko and Holy Augustine”. So now I know what he meant in the letter he wrote to Varvara, saying that only christian philosophy would help. The only philosopher from the fifth century is Augustine. He had his influence on the Karl's renaissance, Descartes, Kant, Petrarch. And there I was, reading lectures in a University about Shevchenko relating to Augustine.
And can you imagine a whole lot of students writing to me, saying they never thought that something new could be discovered about Shevchenko. After that they asked me to join them separately after classes and were asking many interesting questions. One girl, however, said that all these literature evenings were of no interest. So I asked her: “How old are you?”, – “Twenty one”, – “And how old were the Cossacks dying for Ukraine? You are the ones who should make these evenings interesting”. If they want to know something – they will. Would you like to see an article about Shevchenko?
Ovsienko V.V.: It will take some time... Or are you going tell something else now?
Kalynets I.: No, It's about enough. I must have made you tired.