POPADIUK Zorian Volodymyrovych
V.V.Ovsiyenko: We are talking with Zorian Popadiuk in the glorious City of Sambir, Lviv Oblast, 12 Rivna Street, on January 27, AD 2000. Interviewer: Vasyl Ovsiyenko.
Z.V.Popadiuk: That’s true, I am Zorian Popadiuk and we are for sure in a glorious City of Sambir where−if not in Sambir as such, then 4 km away from here− Hetman of Zaporizhian Army Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny was born; and not only he but also Hetman Zhmailo and Vienna hero Yuri Kulchytsky, and others. So, it is a renowned country. In addition, if, say, the Russians talk about Sambir, they usually mention Pushkin’s the novel in verse “Boris Godunov”1. There is a Catholic church (kościół); it is still open; according to a legend (and it may well be a historic fact), here in 1630 Maryna Mniszchówna married False Dmitriy on the eve of their campaign against Moscow. Moreover, during World War I here was General Brusilov’s Headquarters. Also this city boasts such famous people, as Andriy Chaikovsky, author of the known “Oliunka”, Ivan Fylypchak and sainted hierarch Petro Koniushkevych.
I live here from two years of age. At the time here lived my grandmother and her two sisters. And I was born on April 21, 1953 in Lviv; well, I was born into … how do you call a family consisting only of a mother and child?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: One-parent family.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, that’s it; I was born into a one-parent family. By the time I was born, my mother Liubomyra Popadiuk was a student of foreign languages department at Lviv University. At that time my father was also a student. I bear not my father’s but my mother’s name: my grandfather’s name was Popadiuk. And my father’s name was Mysakovets Volodymyr Yosypovych. He is already dead and my mother is dead. He was then a student at the Lviv Institute of Forestry Engineering, and he had a calling for it. Having graduated from the university my mother remained working at the University as a teacher of German (after two years in Sheshory, Hutsul Area).
I was reared here, in Sambir, by my grandmother, my mother’s mother. Her name was Kopystynska Sofiya; her father was Mykhailo Kopystynskiy, former tax official. He had three daughters. These daughters lived to a great age. Grandma Sofiya is ninety-five years old and lives with us. (She died on 14.01.2001−Z.P.). Her older sister Stefaniya died at the age of ninety-three, and the oldest sister Yadvyha had 77. Their father Mykhailo Kopystynskiy also lived for ninety-three years.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So, the Kopystynskiys was a famous family?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Speaking of ancestral memory we should but turn to the Kopystynskiys family history. They came from the Village of Horodyshche, which is 12 km SE of Sambir, toward Drohobych. You can trace the history of the family by the Charter to the Gentry issued to my great grandfather Matviy Kopystynskyi in 18342. My great grandfather Mykhailo Kopystynskiy was born in 1859. He was a bank clerk, an action-oriented person; he spent his life somewhere in Central and Eastern Europe: they sent the bank clerk either to Austria-Hungary, to which Krakow belonged at the time, or to Rudky Village in our locality, or to the Czech Lands. Thence the geography of the birth of his daughters. But two older daughters were born not far from here: in the Village of Rudky, 25 km from Sambir.
He went with those people who at the end of the last (19th−V.O.) century belonged in the Prosvita Movement. We have his Prosvita Membership Card signed by famous ethnographer Volodymyr Hnatiuk as well. You could say that I was brought to respect grandfather; for this I am very much obliged to my grandmother, his youngest daughter Sofia. She always stressed: "My sisters graduated from the German Schools". They studied in the German institution in Krakow, which was called the Monastery at the time. It was a school with a religious bias. He sent them to the German school as he did not want to send his daughters a Polish school, because there was Polish domination here, and he considered himself a Ukrainian. His wife, or my grandmother’s mother, my great grandmother Vanda, lived for 85 years, I remember her well. She also was of noble rank of Stupnytskiys, though the roots of her family did not go so deep as my great grandfather’s.
My matrilineal grandfather Popadiuk Ivan was born in the Village of Strilche near Horodenka. He was born in 1892. And at a time when he met my grandmother Sofia he was a school inspector in Zalishchyky, Chortkiv, and Horodenka in the present-time Ternopil Oblast. My granny taught mathematics at school then3.
It’s a pity I cannot trace my father’s lineage in such details. I only know that my patrimonial grandfather Yosyp and his wife, as well as my father, were settlers. During the “Vistula Operation” they were resettled from beyond Przemyśl. Here, close to the Polish-Ukrainian border, but on Polish territory already. But once again I want to remind that my father and mother never married and lived together in a common-law union. In fact, we communicated with one another, though later he had his own family; therefore I have a half brother and half sister younger than me. However, he is already dead, too. And that is how far I can trace the line of descendants.
But I should like to mention one more thing. We (not we but my grandparents) came to Sambir in 1931. We bought a khata on Rivne Street level, when my great grandfather moved (or he was transferred) to work in Sambir. And ever since our family has been living in this khata and now I Live here with my children and my wife Oksana. We have two children: Iryna and Liubchyk, 11 and 10 years. And our grandmother Sofia with us.
My mother Liubomyra died in 1984 immediately after the death of Vasyl Stus on September 19; it will be the 16th anniversary of her death in 2000. She died after another stroke, the fourth one, I believe. At the time I was in jail.
I can tell a lot about a prison camp, of course, but first I must say that our family has always lived in a state of an undeclared, unreported, or how else can I put it, conflict with the authorities. And for some reason this weren’t we who had grievances against the authorities because in general we always lived modestly and had no great ambitions, while the authorities always had grievances against us. It began during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when the Muscophiles got hard on us. My great grandfather did not belong to Muscophiles and was not a Muscophile but one of his friends or acquaintances, or co-workers--and he had a considerable library and subscribed to many periodical magazines and newspapers, or publications, in other words, he had all sorts of literature, including something like it−and someone thought that it was Muscophile literature. On these grounds the Austrian-Hungarian officials, which were more democratic than their Russian counterparts, decided that there were reasons to do searches in our khata and confiscate such literature. Later, under Polish rule, during twenty years after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Polish authorities also persecuted my, but there were no searches, as far as I know. But he was not allowed to work at any educational institutions; so he had to float around. In the end, he died too early, at the age of 38, back in 1930. My mother was not two years old yet.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When was your mother born?
Z.V.Popadiuk: My mother was born on April 8, 1928. I must say that my grandfather, except being a teacher and inspector, was also a Sich rifleman: he served in the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen units and participated in military operations on the Makivka Mountain near Hrabovets, now in Skole Region. I must say that he was in Russian Bolshevik captivity. He was taken to Proskuriv, now Khmelnytsky, and he fled from the captivity by crossing the Zbruch-River boundary. I cannot clearly recollect now whether it happened in 1920, or in 1921; they told me the story a long time ago. He fled, and already on our side of the border somebody shot and wounded him. It was quite a slight wound, his thigh was injured, but he was a wounded man all the same. Perhaps his cardiovascular system was weak and he died of a stroke. Since then my grandmother became a widow and lived with my mother and her sisters as well as with his mother and father.
What else is there to remember? I am not sure that it will be interesting: there is a family legend about my great-great-grandfather, whose name was Chrysost; according to it, his blood brother, that is my great-great-grandfather’s uncle, whose name was Mykhailo Kopystynskiy, participated in the French campaign against Russia, and allegedly in 1812, after Napoleon’s defeat near Moscow, he helped retreating Napoleon to cross the River of Berezina. It happened in Belarus. Napoleon supposedly gave him a watch with platinum details, or a platinum watch. According to our family tradition, it was a fairly big oval or elliptical or egg-shaped hunting watch. With a platinum case. And allegedly that same great-great-grandfather’s uncle sent this watch to a French museum and got some money in return. It was alleged that he sold the watch to the museum. A nice legend it is.
But let’s return to the interwar period. So, the Poles allegedly conducted no searches. It came to be during the German occupation: despite the fact that the Germans lived in this khata during the advance of the frontline, when the Ukrainians proclaimed the state independence on June 30, 1941, the Gestapo officers conducted a search here looking for some books which could be related to the Ukrainian movement. But they did not harm us anyway.
MAKING UP OF PERSONALITY
We were harried by those searches conducted by Russians or the Bolsheviks…
It is worth remembering that the Poles did quite a lot to Polonise this region. In Sambir, There was the only Ukrainian-language school called “Ridna Shkola”. My mother went to that very school. When the Bolsheviks came here in 1939, in fact, all children who belonged to the upper classes−the known documents produce the number 117−were killed. Only a few schoolgirls remained alive, while none of the schoolboys survived. My mother was among those girls; the Bolsheviks detained all of them and kept for several days in the cellar and then released.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Why were the schoolboys killed?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Just because it was the only Ukrainian school. Thus, during the Bolshevik occupation all schoolchildren became members of the pioneer organization, and during the German occupation all schoolchildren belonged to the so-called Ukrainian Committee; there was such organization at the time.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How old were they then?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Well, let’s figure out: my mom was born in 1928 so in 1939 she was among the younger schoolchildren and minors were not that affected: at the time they were 11 years old, maybe 12. Yet senior boys were 15 - 17 years old. Those 15-17-year-olds were virtually exterminated. In 1963, the floodwater washed away the banks of Dnister here and the villagers saw the remains of those schoolboys in the grave−they were called students at the time. During German occupation the remains were excavated and the big mass grave was dug up. And then, in 1963, the floodwater washed out the grave. And down the Dnister riverside, along the banks where we bathed as children−I was about 10 years old then− the bones were scattered along the washout sections. At night the personnel of sanitation station where my granny worked at the time was alerted and ordered to gather all the bones under floodlights. So they gathered the bones, transported them to the local Sambir cemetery, buried them there and limed the soil.
As it happened, no one knew where that was. Or, maybe someone who did know could not tell anyone. When in the days of our Independence in Sambir the people again started to give tribute to all the fallen and innocent, it happened that I was the only one who knew where the grave could be. Because the following day, in the morning, my granny took me by the hand, led there and said, “For you to know that such and such events took place here”. The very grave was leveled but there was a high poplar growing nearby and I remembered the place and later could show the grave of 117 students. There is nothing there now, the grave is difficult of access, but the place of burial is well-attended. In fact, the soldiers spared bullets and put students to death in all imaginable ways. They murdered everyone at night. The excavated bodies had gags and hands were tied behind with the barbed wire. The executioners buried boys alive and the tractor compacted the soil. People who lived nearby heard those cries at night. It was good that my mother and some other schoolchildren survived because they were younger.
My mom did graduate from high school sometime in 1947. However, she also graduated from trade school. In 1948 she joined the University and attended it up to 1953. Or was it 1954…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did she work at the university upon graduation?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Upon graduation she practice-taught in Sheshory, a mountain village, for a year or so. Then another village followed; and it was there that she received a letter from the university with a call to the chair.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Since when did she teach at the university?
Z.V.Popadiuk: As far as I remember, since 1955 she worked at the university. Maybe from 1956, but not later.
Apart from the fact that she taught German at the University and at the Conservatory, she participated in various events: she played violin very well; for a long time she was the second violin in the Lviv Opera House, in the symphony orchestra. Then she was at the University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Denys Andriyovych Khabal; for quite a time she was a violinist there. I remember from my childhood that the TV program included a symphony concert and my mother called me from Lviv so that I could watch her on TV. At the time we had no TV set and I had to go to someone.
At the same time, my mother contacted with people who in the early sixties, particularly in the mid60s, were, so to speak, if not the backbone of the all-Ukrainian, but certainly of the Lviv community, which then became known as the Sixtiers. I already remember the years of 1961-62, when it all began to evolve… By the way, Ivan Hel lived in Sambir. He married Mariya from Sambir; she was from the Khorty family. I do not remember the names now. Suffice it to say that in Sambir and Sambir Region Ivan Hel taught history and geography. The guy that has come to us today had Ivan Hel as his history teacher at school. For some time Ivan Hel worked in the boarding school in Strilky. He had met my mother here, in Sambir, and later they saw a great deal of one another in Lviv. Then there, in Lviv, showed up Chornovil with his wife then Olena Antoniv. There was also the family of Hnatenkys--Stefa and Valery, already dead; both of them were artists. The Kalynetses--Igor and Iryna, Stefaniya Shabatura, and Mykhailo Kosiv were members of the revival movement or creative intelligence, as they were called at the time.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Was it the Club of Creative Youth?
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, the Club was founded later. How did their work manifest itself? It was a continuous process, because there was also an underground activity. They’d just stopped shooting: in the late forties or even early fifties. At the end of the fifties there was already a cohort of people who knew the experience of their parents—for example Horyn brothers--or those who had arrived here--say, Vyacheslav Chornovil or Valentyn Moroz—both of them did not live here, they came here and imbibed ideas, which in Halychyna people, maybe, were afraid to even utter, because all of them were considered horrible ideas. At the same time the newcomers felt no fear, because everything there was new to them. Perhaps they were the impetus for the coming developments. People started thinking and remembering something. It was impossible to talk about Banderivetses4. After all, people were intimidated: not only intimidated, but deceived as well. Parents were afraid to say anything at home. A child went to school the teachers taught at school that Banderivetses were bandits; the child came home, and hardly anyone in the family risked telling his son a different version. As a rule, people were silent, and only a few tried and said something.
So, at home, after all those searches, there still remained a lot of old literature, including Ukrainian literature; for example, there is still a heap of booklets printed by “Prosvita”; at that time these books were not prohibited and contained nothing contrary to law; they were publications on ethnology, but they were patriotic and inspiring. It was in the sixties. I was 11 or 12 years old; I knew that when my mom came down to Sambir or I visited her something was boiling: people uttered their opinions and underground activity was underway. So I already played with the idea. Moreover, it was, on the one hand, a kind of fun for me, and, on the other hand, I got acquainted with the doings of my mother. In our khata in Sambir we had a typewriter: my mother brought it here. She occasionally brought home some papers to retype them. Only later I realized that those were samvydav materials.
And then--it was in 1963--I was only ten years old or maybe eleven; I remember that at the time there was a liberation war in Congo against Belgian and French commandos. There was a local dictator Moïse Tshombe who opposed Patrice Lumumba. So, I together with my classmates, like Igor Kovalchuk and others, drew a large map and fixed it on the wall: it showed a magnified image of Congo from the school map, on which we marked the situation with miniature flags. I still remember those names: Stanleyville, Libreville, Brazzaville, and Léopoldville. We monitored the hostilities taking place somewhere in the État du Katanga. So we were already politically committed. We listened to the radio at ten o’clock in the evening: the Moscow news. At ten sharp I was sitting near the radio and listened to half-hour news broadcast.
And such time my mother brought those papers to retype. Of course, I thought it was cool to learn to type and I wondered what my mom was typing. So I unwillingly familiarized myself with many materials that I still remember. Suffice it to mention that I knew at the time: my mother did not warn me against telling anyone about her typing, apparently not to focus my attention on it, but my granny used to say: “Do not show anybody what you are typing here”. And later my mother left me materials and said, “Retype me this”. And I was typing. Well, I cannot remember all retyped materials now. But I know that it was half-Russian samizdat. There were some pieces of pure fiction. And in general there was a lot of poetry. There was Lviv poet Bohdan Oliynyk. I will omit the well-known names. Poems of Valentyn Moroz: he also wrote poetry. Then came his essay Buried in Snow, Chronicle of Resistance… that happened roughly in 1967.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Moroz served his sentence in Mordovia in 1965-1969; there he wrote his Reportage from the Beria Reserve. And these essays he must have written later: when he was released.
Z.V.Popadiuk: When Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors was shot… I cannot recollect it precisely; maybe I rearranged something in time. But there was something about it. Then followed the treatise of Dziuba Internationalism or Russification? I believe it was in 1967 or 1968.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: In what form did you see Dziuba’s treatise: did you see a typescript?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, the typescript, everything came in the form of typescript.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Certain materials were also distributed in photocopies.
Z.V.Popadiuk: When I was in the tenth grade, we made photocopies ourselves. But most of it I saw myself in typescript, and I distributed materials in typescript as well.
One more thing. In 1965-66 the first arrests occurred. I was already aware that arrests were underway. Apparently, Chornovil was arrested in 1966…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: In August and September 1965 twenty-one dissidents were arrested: Horyn, Moroz, Osadchiy, Hel, and Chornovil for his collected articles about them Woe from Wit. He was arrested in 1967.
Z.V.Popadiuk: This very Woe from Wit we retyped here. I lent a hand as well, but my mother mostly retyped it in Lviv. All samvydav passed through her hands. There were also her colleagues working with her. But I remember that Chornovil was given an amnesty.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He did eighteen months.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I remember how he was given a welcome. (V. Chornovil was arrested on Aug. 3, 1967 and released in February 1969.—V.O.). I also remember Ivan Hel at the time. (Hel Ivan Andriyovych, b. 17.7.1937, Village of Klitsko, Horodok Region, Lviv Oblast. Arrested on 24.08.65, three years of strict-security camps in Mordovia.--V.O.). Chornovil’s wife Olena Antoniv also frequented our khata. I reckon my mother and she were bosom friends already. (Antoniv Olena Tymofiyivna, 17.11.1937--2.02.1986. Doctor. Participant of the Sixties’ Movement. Administrator of Alexander Solzhenitsyn Fund in Halychyna. Wife of Chornovil, then of Z.Krasivsky.--V.O.). I used to attend those evenings. I cannot recollect the exact year, but on Chernyshevsky Street there lived a countess, who organized the evenings of young poets. Those poets read poetry; in the meantime she bustled about in the kitchen and entertained them with delicious food.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where did you live: here or in Lviv?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I lived in Sambir, but my mother came here, and I came to Lviv. As a tenth grader I went to Lviv school.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did your mother have an apartment in Lviv?
Z.V.Popadiuk: My mom had a temporary accommodation there: she had been working at the university for 17 already, but did not live to get a permanent apartment. So first she lived on 9, Chernyshevsky Street, then on 37, Svoboda Avenue, near the Opera House. After that she lived on Kirov Street, in the apartment house near the house of the Horyns: our house was under no. 27 and the Horyns’ house under no. 33. Before they lived on 8, Bohun Street. It is surprising that I still remember it.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It’s good that you remember this.
Z.V.Popadiuk: And my mother’s last apartment was on Engels Street (now Yefremov Street), Building no. 105, she moved there in 1971.
To say something else about my mother, we have to talk about all of her friends because she always passed her time in a small coterie. They were talking about politics, and literature. And all participants were divided into two parts and I felt it then. On the one hand, there was a wave represented by Dziuba’s treatise Internationalism or Russification? Probably the treatise was eagerly grasped by people like Chornovil, maybe Kosiv. It’s my perception, though maybe I am in the wrong. On the other hand, there were people like Valentyn Moroz, Ivan Hel and someone else who poked fun at it; they were orthodox in the perception of the movement of the forties, but never talked about it, because, they say, it wasn’t a right time to talk about it. They did not like to accept the wrong neo-Leninist or rather neo-Marxist literature…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Or national communism.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, though I am far from calling it national-communism: it was simply a return to the origins of the Bolshevik national policy.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: At least officially that is national communism: the scholars define it in this way. Although Dziuba, perhaps, was not national-communist, but he gave his work such shape.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I think that Dziuba could not go further at the time. Dziuba is too big a personality, too big a man; therefore he could not give in and repudiate his convictions. Apparently, his beliefs were not so deep and not so radical. That mountain could not move if he were clear about his ideas. So I think and maybe I’m wrong.
I am very much obliged to my mother. When I had to meet with the violence of the Soviet machine, I was already ready for it. My mom let me in her affairs from childhood; she was not afraid of telling me things and this way prepared me. I saw many those people—on Vyacheslav Chornovil’s birthday, for example, many of them gathered in our khata-- different generations of prisoners came together to drink very strong tea brew, sit forming a ring on the floor, because we had no furniture and had nothing to sit on, and so treat themselves. They discussed recent events: camps or investigations.
Here’s a very brief illustration. My mother took me to the theaters. In one of the performances acted current Minister of Culture Bohdan Stupka. Between the acts we met Bohdan Stupka in the lobby. My mother had something to tell him, and I (probably a tenth grader at the time) showed some initiative in the conversation when it came to dissent. And he meant it as a joke, but, on the other hand, perhaps he was serious and told my mother and me, “There’s no sense learning anything: you’d better go in for politics, and everything will be fine”. I have been remembering it for 30 or 35 years now. So I am following this ministerial instruction up to now.
What was the impetus? Perhaps, the incident that occurred on the Dnister, when the graves were washed out. And there was a prison in Sambir; it is now a reformatory. According to my granny, on the last day of Bolshevik evacuation on the eve of German march-in more than 900 innocent people were executed there.
One more thing: the preserved literature gave me an idea of the Bandera movement. There even remained books with photographs where my grandfather was dressed as Sich rifleman. As usual, at school I triggered all sorts of questions in the class, especially during history lessons. After that washout event on Dnister I at once turned to my first teacher, who was German. She said, “Well, I will not say anything, because I’m not local, I was not in Sambir at the time”. I think she meant that if I asked the same at home, the relatives might spill the beans. Because at the time the official version was that Germans were to blame.
In 1967 when I was 14, my mother presented me the first radio-set. Until then, I kept listening to the Soviet radio, while here I could tune in to Radio Svoboda, which was continuously jammed; however from now on I heard different opinions.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did you fiddle with it to tune in to the short waves?
Z.V.Popadiuk: It wasn’t me who fiddled with it: my mother bought the radio-set in Lviv and asked to adjust it so that we could tune in to 16 and 19 meters. When radio interference was only humming I could hear the broadcast. But then the Soviets learned to jam those frequencies as well. At school, during political briefings, I could compare the versions of events broadcast by BBC, Chinese Radio, Voice of America, and Moscow Radio.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You literally alluded to them?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah. The Czechoslovak events of 1968 captured our attention, awakened national antagonism. However, it wasn’t a kind of nationalistic antagonism, because in our family nobody favored radicalism. My granny would have disapproved if I repeated at home disparaging remarks heard outside about Russians or Poles, or Jews, or anyone else. She was just such by nature. Or one more example. Once I boasted that I stole a ride on the streetcar. My grandma said, “Listen, sometime in the future we will have our own state and you are learning to steal a ride in a foreign country; then in your own country you won’t be able to go by streetcar like a normal citizen”. And it stuck in my mind ever since.
But let’s go back to Czech events. In fact, those Czech events produced the greatest impression upon me. I kept track of events and remembered everything and surprisingly in 1990, my wife Oksana and I went to Germany via Prague. For the first time in my life I went abroad from the Soviet Union; I’d never been to Prague where our transfer station was. In Prague, I marveled at myself: I went out of doors and I knew every street in Prague, its name, where it led, and the city map. As if I lived there; and I’d never seen it on TV, had never seen it: I’d just listened to the radio what had been going on and where and how. I knew where the clubs were situated; I knew where that Jan Palach set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square, all places in the city, everything. Oksana wondered, saying: “You wouldn’t read about it!” I led her here and there and there, and offered my explanations. But apart from listening to the radio broadcasts about the Czechoslovak events, I knew nothing. How old was I in 1968? 14 years? Maybe even 15 already.
UKRAINIAN NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT
In fact, already in 1968 and in 1969 we made our first attempt to create a youth organization. I gathered my schoolmates, classmates: there were eight of them. So, eight classmates created an organization and pretentiously named it “Ukrainian National Liberation Front”. Why? Because there was the “Ukrainian National Front”, which included Mykhailo Diak, Dmytro Kvetsko, Zinoviy Krasivsky and others. We knew that they had been arrested and therefore we chose such name so that the front could continue to exist.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Zorian, if anyone ever wanted to portray this event as it happened, for example, shooting a film, how did your meeting take place?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I remember everything because I invented all of it, so to speak. It is on the one part. On the other part, it was the circle of friends with whom we constantly discussed this issue. When they drove us to Lviv for sight-seeing, I could lead them from the group and take to the cemetery of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen: the Sich Riflemen were buried here; here Bolsheviks were ruining the cemetery. In this way this unofficial idea stuck in the minds of some part of schoolchildren. I knew whom to invite and whom not to invite to take part in such work, and whom only to inform but not to involve.
We gathered in the yard near my khata. There were such a bench and a chair. We wrote a program, drew up the text of the vow or oath, and glued together a flag of two pieces of blue and yellow cloth with a trident. Bought a typewriter…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yeah, all signs of organization under Article 64.
Z.V.Popadiuk Sure, the first sentence was under article 64-a. Since the organization had to act, we marked the first anniversary of the entry of the Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia with leaflets. They included partially the handwritten text, and partially the typewritten text. Suffice it that we pasted them all over Sambir.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And what was the number of copies?
Z.V.Popadiuk: In Sambir we pasted no more than twenty leaflets in public places. It’s one thing. And another thing is what we had: I brought literature from Lviv down to Sambir. I remember there were Chronicle of Current Events, various essays, Moscow pamphlets. There was some interesting stuff by Paperny: funny, satirical. There was Kochetov’s novel What do you really want? and its humorous imitation How do you couch your wants? I remember some of the characters from it. There were a bit of spying and funny names of characters of different nationalities like Shot of Whisky, Bug, and Von Jerk. There were already first numbers of Ukrayinsky Visnyk, Woe from Wit by Chornovil, essays of Moroz and Dziuba. My colleague and I retyped and retook something of it in Lviv. And then we distributed the copies.
That first day we had eight participants, including Yaromyr Mykytko, who was later arrested along with me and imprisoned, there was Igor Kovalchuk, who now works as director of Sambir radio &TV shop “Electron”, Volodymyr Halko, now a doctor in Lviv. There was Omelian Bohush. We later went to different higher educational establishments, and when we were arrested two years later, we all dispersed because we all were expelled from those educational establishments. Those, who were not tried, joined the colors. We were dispersed differently. Omelian Bohush became the head of the oblast executive committee in Kurgan-Tube in Tajikistan. Similar fate, as in the case of Roketsky. (Brother of political prisoners Bohdan Roketsky and Volodymyr Roketsky; he went to Siberia and became Irkutsk governor.--V.O.). There were also Petro Petryna, Gennady Pohorilov, first husband of my Oksana, and Igor Vovk. All of them were my classmates. Henyk or Yevhen Senkiv lives in Irkutsk Oblast now.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So you created this organization actually…
Z.V.Popadiuk: …being schoolboys. It was the ninth grade.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It took place at the beginning of the school year? Because the Czech events developed in August 1968.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, and we created our organization in 1969. It’s good you’ve reminded me of a preceding event. In 1968, it seems, on October 29, the 50th anniversary of the Komsomol was marked. Then we carried out our first protest action: we demanded that our principal, teacher of history, should explain us the events that took place in Czechoslovakia. We clearly called these events occupation of Czechoslovakia. But he refused. Then the whole class went on strike and left our lessons. And then and there we were punished, they found two insurgents, including myself. They told me at the time that I wouldn’t graduate from my school with positive testimonial. I had to finish ninth grade here; the historian who promised me all sorts of trouble, started tormenting me with history, because the final examination in history was then in the ninth grade, and still he had to give me excellent mark in history, but he wrote such a testimonial that when I went to the tenth grade in Lviv school I just threw it out or torn or burned it, I do not remember.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Maybe with such testimonial they wouldn’t imprison you?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes. So I went to another school, to the 10th grade, without testimonial, because of those events. But it was our first protest in connection with the Czech events. We tried to involve other schools as well. They brought pressure to bear upon us. I became the tenth grader in Lviv school no. 55. I lived with my mother on Kirov Street, near the Horyns, no. 27. Then I studied with boys who were not very communicative, but they could lend a hand in our affairs. When next year when we all went to higher educational establishments the geography of our “Ukrainian national liberation front” grew larger. The majority of us went to Lviv higher educational establishments, some classmates went to Frankivsk, Chernivtsi and Ternopil establishments. We also made some other leaflets but I do not remember the details now.
And then we conducted our joint action in early 1972. It was time of a kind of mini-thaw when people came back from the camps, when Kalynets and Chornovil were still at large. Everyone was, except for Moroz. Samvydav was widely-distributed and socializing was coming along. On New Year’s Day in 1971 we traveled to Kyiv where we staged puppet shows and sang carols and collected gifts on Christmas eve.
On December 25, 1971, on the New Year’s Eve, at my mother’s apartment we again celebrated Chornovil’s birthday. There was a multitude of friends in our khata. It seems that at that time Chornovil had already divorced Olena Antoniv broke; for a while he even lived with us because he did not want to live with her in one apartment. And my mother was a good friend of Olena, and maybe my mother did not take Atena at the time, although she was on good terms with her, they were cold relations. My mom loved Chornovil and could even criticize him when he was in his stupid bag again. There was this birthday party, then New Year, Christmas, and January 12, 1972; on the latter date, which was afterwards referred to as the Day of Ukrainian Political Prisoner, there happened mass arrests in Ukraine; we also got into trouble: the officers came with a search warrant.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: On the same day?
Z.V.Popadiuk: It happened on January 12, on the night of 11 January. I passed an exam for the third semester. I was a sophomore at the Philology Department, Ukrainian branch. In the morning our doorbell sounded. It was right after six. At the time Natalka Biliavska, my mother’s friend, lived with us. Mom went to answer the door. There, of course, somebody said, “Telegram”.
The day before there was an occurrence. I came home and went to bed or rested on the lounge, and my mother was going about the house. I asked her to bring me my bag from the kitchen because I needed something there. She went to the kitchen and returned already white as a sheet: “What are you carrying with you?” And I had there membership cards of our organization, a dozen solid lines of type, because we were going to print something with those linotyped texts. It was a book of Ivan Hel about Moroz: a collection devoted to Moroz. It contained “Instead the last word” and all works of Valentyn Moroz prefaced by Ivan Hel. And all of it I carried in my bag. I carried it with me and had to hand it to someone. My bag was splashed with mud because, despite winter, there was sleet outside. In short, my mother started pestering me: “What are you carrying with you? Let’s throw it all out of the bag!” And I asked her: “Well, where are you going to put it?”—“I’ve no idea yet, but rake it out all the same!”—“Well, you mean we could put in on the balcony or in the kitchen… well, where would you put it? While it is in my bag, I have it. And when we go to work, then I do not know who rousts in our khata. Anybody may enter our dwelling and rummage in the corners.” I sounded reasonable and she calmed down. Well, in the morning the doorbell sounded: “Telegram”; it was still dark and Natalka Biliavska, who now lives in America, whispered to me: “KGB!” Somehow an idea flashed across my mind that probably they overheard our yesterday’s conversation.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And where was the bag?
Z.V.Popadiuk: The bag was near my bed or lounge. I was on my feet already. I do not know either consciously or by force of habit I kicked the bag away from me and it stuck near the table-leg in the middle of the room. The first to enter were two girls-witnesses who asked where the switches were. We showed them where the switches were and they turned on the light; they put their bags near mine on the floor. Then all the KGB officers treaded in, and each of them had a bag. Under the table there formed a line of about nine or even ten bags, as far as I remember.
Well, the search started. It continued from 6 am until 4 pm. We had a small room and a kitchen. We had practically no furniture: sofa sleeper, convertible armchair, table and a whole lot of books, which have remained until now. Not all, but rather part of them. The books were arranged without shelves along the wall. And they raked through them. They tore the mirror off the glass support, they opened each book, went to all lengths, but hand no time for my bag.
There was a moment, the most interesting one, when investigator by the name of Odnovolov, a little sloppy, and the other one Berezhnov Yuri Heorhiyovych… By the way, during the search the orders were given by well-known—in fact, we were visited by a bunch of celebrities!--Korniyenko, who now is heading Kyiv militia.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What was his rank then?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not know. Senior lieutenant, I guess. I have it somewhere in my archive. Out of the blue he pointed to my bag and said to Batiuk, chief of ideology department in the KGB: ‘Whose that dirty bag is?” And he answered: “Whose… whose… Odnovolov’s! Whose else it could be?” And that one stood in front of him leafing through the books and saying nothing. And I kept sitting nearby them. So they did not look into that bag. Then they all went away everyone taking her or his bag, and my bag fell on one side. Korniyenko bringing up the rear measured the entire room with his eye, looked like this and saw that bag… and they took themselves off!
V.V.Ovsiyenko: The Lord made them all sightless temporarily.
Z.V.Popadiuk: And there was another moment. They messed about in the kitchen. They were stirring over there and I went there as well. It seemed we were free to move about the house: no one forced us to sit still. I went to the kitchen and saw security officers dawdling over kitchen utensils. And we had the plywood case there from the parcel with potatoes. And then my mom who never spoke to KGB officers told them without a shade of complaisance: “Don’t soil your hands: I’ll help you! Come spread a newspaper”. They spread out a newspaper and she shook out potatoes on the floor and shocked the box at that saying: “Well, there’s nothing there!” and gathered potatoes back into the case. Three officers stood over her and noticed nothing. I noticed that some newspaper and some papers were falling out of the box. Once they were gone--and they took my mother with them--I rushed to the box and it was full of samvydav materials! Nonetheless they kept her until 1 am. On that day the KGB conducted mass arrests.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: No, it’s God’s will. Nina Mykhailivna, mother of Valeriy Marchenko also told me something like this. When she arrived in the Urals to visit him, he prepared capsules with texts and carried them into the room for visits. They lay in the cup on the shelf and his mom had to take them with her. They suddenly burst in intending to perform a search because they suspected something. Captain Ruk took this cup, and she started praying on the sly: “Mother of God, please save me!” And having said that Ruk yawned and returned the cup on the shelf.
Z.V.Popadiuk: That is really something. What else? During that search, we exchanged stinging remarks; thereon they snitched on me to the university that I wronged them in discharge of their functions, used dirty language and so on, though I was nowhere near it. In fact, I teased them and joked about their efforts. Nevertheless, the court sentenced me to a fine of 30 karbovanetses for disorderly conduct in relation to the KGB officers. Therefore I was dropped from the university. So how it was.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you a Komsomol member?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, I was.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you expelled thereafter or when?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Somehow the things settled; I still have my Komsomol ticket.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So there were no disgraceful procedures connected with Komsomol? Usual absent-mindedness?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Maybe they forgot about me because I was a member of Komsomol for a very short time. I entered the university. Exams began on August 1, 1970, and a day or two eelier I joined the Young Communist League. As I went to furnish the documents to the university the dean, who compiled the documents and conducted the interview, said: “Well, man, well, we … (and my mom worked there and they knew me somehow). Pass as you may your exams, you won’t stay here without joining Komsomol, no one will admit you. Grab your legs and do join it.” So I bought a bottle of cognac, went to the First Secretary of the Zaliznychny District Committee of Komsomol Dziuba and it him 10 minutes to fabricate me a Komsomol ticket. We went and knocked down a couple of tumblers, and so I became a member of the Komsomol.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Like it was a custom with the commies.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Sure. I handed them this Komsomol ticket and entered the University. And I was expelled from the university because of my behavior which discredited the honorary title of student, at least it read so. I behaved like a hooligan against the KGB officers.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When did they expel you?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Probably it happened on February 16, 1972.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You were a sophomore.
Z.V.Popadiuk: And then summer was in.
LEAFLETS. POSTUP MAGAZINE
In summer we initiated a solid action: we distributed leaflets in Lviv, Chernivtsi, Kolomyya, Frankivsk, Stryi, Dolyna…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How come? You were omnipresent?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah. I myself went and pasted those leaflets in Stryi, Dolyna, Frankivsk, and others did the same elsewhere. These leaflets were dedicated to the fourth anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. I wrote the text myself. Most likely, it was good, because many years later I came across that text while rereading my case I found that it’s OK.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And you thought how clever you were! Is that so?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, because the security men were dumber than me. Because at the time for those leaflets they arrested two people at random, residents of Ivano-Frankivsk, because they found on their raincoats the traces of glue similar to one we used for gluing. But since all silicate glues are the same, it seems, the similarity confined to it only. They spent six months in the KGB detention center in Ivano-Frankivsk. Only when six months later they arrested us in connection with other matters, they closed the books on that case. Still, the investigators threw a crime on them and imprisoned them all the same.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did they call your mother in for questioning in connection with the arrests?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Of course. No, she was not called in for questioning: they kept her well into the night from 4 pm till 1 am next day and told to come back at 10 am. She did not go to them. Then they tried and called her again, she demanded to be served a subpoena. And they failed to satisfy her claim.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: They were sure that they wouldn’t force her to say something…
Z.V.Popadiuk: In this way she put an end to communication with that team. They tried to reach her at the university through the dean and department head but to no avail and they stopped calling her.
But on the day when we were pasting leaflets I arrived in Sambir at about six or seven o’clock in the morning, just after dawn, and went to bed. My granny hastily cleaned my raincoat because there might remain some spots of glue. In short, I slept, but somewhere at half past nine the KGB’s Volga drove up to our khata. They asked if I was at home. My grandmother opened the door and said I was at home. “When did he come yesterday?”—“Oh, very late!”—“When?”—“Maybe at one o’clock, or maybe a little later.” They weighed up (and I told my granny what to say) and concluded that their timing was wrong because if I came home at one o’clock and went to bed, I had nothing to do with the action. They did not even wake me up. So the danger was over. And then they arrested two other people.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did you live here when they expelled you?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I was expelled in February, I spent a little time in Lviv, then went for a month or a month and a half to the Caucasus, to Georgia. And after that I stayed here.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Your own master, heh?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, sure.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Didn’t they make you to seek employment? Didn’t they charge you with parasitism?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I had irregular earnings. In the Caucasus I joined the construction gang. I needed spare cash.
What else about the Czech events? They made inquiries in Czechoslovakia whether there or elsewhere were similar leaflets. They wanted to prove that these leaflets had been created (maybe they really wanted it to be so) in Czech state and brought here. And actually I plugged through it by myself.
Moreover, there was this magazine. At university I had a student of the same year Hryhoriy Khvostenko, a gifted linguist, no doubt. Maybe, he wrote poetry, but he was in no haste to show it to the public. He was a mysterious guy; now I think he was like the hero of The Demons, who provoked a revolution. He came from Sumy Oblast, from Yushchenko’s Ulyanivka, Bilopillia Region. One day I went to visit him in Sumy Oblast, and there we conceived our magazine “Postup”. There we dashed off first materials for the magazine. We made only two. He gave most of the articles for the magazine…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What do you mean by two: two issues or two copies?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Two issues. Most policy articles were his. There were interesting articles “Outlines of Real Hrabowsky” and “The Roots and Flowers of Russian Chauvinism”: it seems those are correct titles. It is a kind of review or retrospective of Russian history and the history of literature concerning its great-power chauvinism. Maybe there was something else which I do not remember. I wrote something on general political: “Our Epoch” or something like it. Or “The Time of the Consumer”. The bottom-line of the article is that the Soviet reality turns us into deideologized consumers who can every day now become conscientious Europeans. There was something about Crimean Tatars.
We studied the History of Ukraine by Hrushevsky. It was our homework.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How did the magazine look like and what was its circulation?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Typescripts; five copies of the first issue and five of the second; 60-65 pages.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yaromyr Mykytko said someone else retyped it and duplicated.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Downright truth. There was one such Reytblat in Lviv, whom they grabbed with such magazine. Those nearly 60 pages absorbed everything so that you wouldn’t wish for more: some old materials retyped, even pre-war ones, some materials we wrote ourselves. But as distinct from other magazines of the time we included daily chronicle of topical events. It was a bimonthly. Also, sometime in October, it seems, in 1972, in Sambir we tidied up the grave where 900 persons were buried who had been killed in prison after Bolshevik invasion. We set up a cross there and inscribed that 900 victims of the NKVD were buried there. They imputed it to Ivan Hel and it was included into his sentence; later we were arrested as well and we were charged with it. (For the second time Ivan Hel was arrested 12.01.1972, imprisoned for 10 years in a special regime colony and five years of exile.—V.O.).
Our last sensational action consisted of distribution of leaflets concerning the prohibition of the celebration of Shevchenko’s anniversary.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You mean there was a special prohibition?
Z.V.Popadiuk: It seems the prohibition was imposed by the Lviv Oblast Committee of the Communist Party; I have a vague recollection of Kutsevol ordering it…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, there was one such…
Z.V.Popadiuk: He banned all sorts of parties…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did it happen in March?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, in March. In the university everything was ready for the evening and everything was canceled. In this connection we published a radical leaflet. Usually I, as a liberal, always made it sound less radical. I wrote the text, but still Khvostenko managed to add the most drastic words such as Red Terror or red fascism or the like of them, I do not remember. We typed hundreds of copies of this leaflet and pasted them all over Lviv. There were eight of us but another group gave us help in this case: at the History Department there was a group, which included Khudyi, son of late Ivan Svarnyk Mykola, an employee of the State Historical Archive. The group consisted of sixteen members and all of them helped to paste. The guys were still pasting the leaflet all over Lviv in the small hours, but at my home the KGB officers were already conducting a search.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you personally pasting them?
Z.V.Popadiuk: The search was underway at my khata: personally I was not pasting. I only typed and delivered them. The search in my khata was triggered by the fact that a girlfriend, as they put it now, of this Khvostenko, known poetess Nadiya Stepula, took a pack of leaflets intended for Khvostenko and brought it to the KGB (yes, at least, according to the KGB) and left it there. So they detained Khvostenko and Khvostenko gave away everybody and everything he could: they came to search everyone he knew and did not touch anybody whom he did not know. This was Khvostenko who betrayed. I do not know whether both Khvostenko and Nadiya worked for the KGB together or Nadiya worked apart; I do not know and will never know for sure. But that Nadiya and Petro Lelyk were in some way or another associated with the KGB. However, this fact tells its own tale. In the case it is put down in black and white that she brought it and her statement that she submitted it.
So the officers conducted searches, and when they came to me and said, “All right, you’ve taken a fall now”, I retorted in my mind, "Okay, you guys just get cracking!” At the moment I knew exactly that in Lviv the leaflet-pasting job was underway. It really gave them a turn. They came at 1.30 am and kept searching till the dawn and in the morning someone called them and they began to see red when they realized that the whole city was pasted over!
Many people were arrested: more than 20 people, maybe 30, I do not know. After two or three days there remained about eight of us detained: the ones that were in our old school organization−Khvostenko and another one or two.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you detained then?
Z.V.Popadiuk: They arrested me the same night. On the night of March 27, 1973. They brought me to 1, Myr Street, now 1, Bandera Street, to the investigatory isolation ward of the KGB. I did not feel nervous at the time. I was exhausted and I lay down to sleep. I slept for almost thirty-six hours. They woke up when it was time to take food but for the rest of the time I mostly slept.
They didn’t use force or anything… They did not offend me, neither moved me, nor pushed. I could catch up on my sleep. And then they began examining me. One investigator had his own work style…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Who was your investigator?
Z.V.Popadiuk: One such Malykhin, Major.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Malykhin? Well-known KGB sly-boots!
Z.V.Popadiuk: That’s the guy. But he was a skilled security officer, already old, looked like a psychologist. Individual approach in each case. For him I was a test person. His style was very simple: he always showed that he was a very sick man: heart pains, pressure rises; in this way he tried to arouse sympathy. Well, and a person under investigation, or how else they call him or her, sympathizes with her/his investigator, takes pity on the investigator and so he gets a person talking. There were many of us, each one breathed a word and many a little makes a mickle: for the investigator everything was lovely and the goose hung high. A few days later they had almost a full picture of doings and how-tos.
I chose my way: all evidence obtained from others, I would either confirm or not confirm, but I won’t give fresh evidence myself which might be the right step to take. This mode was okay for some time; then, ten days after brought a charge against me and ever since the examination grew more detailed. Someone was freed, someone was released, and in the third month, when the case was coming towards the end, I realized that under the investigation remained only Mykytko, I and Khvostenko, and they let the rest go home. And only Mykytka and I finally appeared before court. (Yaromyr Olexiyovych Mykytko, b. 12.03., 1953, Town of Prokofievsk, Kemerovo Oblast, Russia. Founding member of the youth organization “Ukrainian National Liberation Front” (Town of Sambir). Arrested on 26.03.1973, imprisoned for five years under part I of art. 62 of the Criminal Code of the UkrSSR. He served his sentence in the camps of Mordovia nos. 17, 19, and then in the camp no. 37 Perm Oblast. Presently he lives in the Town of Sambir, Lviv Oblast).
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How many months did the investigation last?
Z.V.Popadiuk: We were tried on 6-7 August, while we were arrested on March 28. The Khvostenko’s case was assigned for a separate proceedings.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What were the reasons for this?
Z.V.Popadiuk: By reason of the fact that he was undergoing psychiatric examination, that he was acknowledged mentally unbalanced or something there. And finally he was released. Or he was tried and given five-year conditional judgment…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Was he tried separately?
Z.V.Popadiuk: He was tried separately and given a conditional judgment of five years, but he was not in prison. Before that we had several confrontations−not several, but two−where he spoke and I objected. And it came to fundamental things for me, because most things were non-essential and I did not mind. One matter of principle concerned the alleged fact that in the presence of my mother I gave Khvostenko the Dziuba’s treatise. I did not want to involve my mother in this episode, but he insisted that she knew and was a participant in this handover. And another similar evidence that concerned my other friend, Olga. Just the same fact of handover, and I also did not want to involve her, because she was not privy to the handover. Just two such moments.
I was forewarned, however. At one time, a man who brought his poetry to our magazine (Vasyl Hanushchak, he is in Pechenizhyn or in Kolomyya now) forewarned that Hryhoriy Khvostenko was a weak vessel and possibly a stoolie. Someone forewarned me that he supposedly saw Khvostenko’s revolver. But I was beneath their notices; I only kept a still tongue in my head in his presence and didn’t spill the names and whereabouts of my friends. And whom he did not know the security men did not know as well.
My mom was fired sometime in June, in the third month after my arrest. Allegedly by decision of academic council: in fact, I’ve no idea about the details. After that she went to work as a medical statistician at the same hospital where Chornovil’s second wife Olena Antoniv worked. They drove her out from there as well and she moved here, to Sambir. And here she had all sorts of disability problems: she had two strokes one after another; and it happened that the first letter of recognition of the first degree of disability came exactly on the day when my mother was buried.
And then was the trial. We approached the trial being in a different degree of, so to say, seediness. Did investigators resort to any tricks? Well, there happened some slight intimidation; say, they threatened that we might become lifers. However, on the whole the investigation was carried out rather correctly; or maybe we were still very young and green as grass. There were chuckle-headed guys though, such as diehard Colonel Rapota, Head or Deputy Head of the Investigation Department. He has been retired, but nevertheless he loved to stand head and shoulders above us. The rest of officers were little people.
In this way we approached the trial. The trial was a separate story. It was a hearing in private.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did the verdict mention the fact that it had been a hearing in private?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, it did: “hearing in private”. There was a long confusion: I insisted on public hearing, but to no avail. Then the debate followed. I insisted that I committed no crimes, that my actions were nothing but fulfillment of my civic duty, and that if I was wrong, I would sort it out by myself and as it were I needed no prompting. Such was the youngster’s stand. I had such a stand, and Mykytko’s stand was a little different. As far as I know, his father persuaded him to become more compromising and repent. But such attitude was not effective: on the one hand, he said that he supposedly was sorry, on the other hand, however, he said that he was right. But if you need to repent, you try and do it. At least it looked so from the outside.
We went to Mordovia.
Z.V.Popadiuk: We were transported under guard on October 25, 1973.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you two transported together?
Z.V.Popadiuk: We were transported with the interval of four days, probably. But we met in the urban village of Potma in Mordovia, in the transit camp. There was Avakov or Avakian, I do not remember now. With him there were Mykytko and Alexander Alexandrovich, a Chechen; the latter was a very well-known old man, his last name has just slipped my memory. He was also a writer and reviewer under Suslov, and someone else.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Wasn’t his name Petrov-Agatov? In the zone, he maintained that he composed the song “Dark is the night, Only bullets whizz in the wires…”; you might’ve heard it on the radio. They still paid him author’s emoluments. Some prisoners believed him, some prisoners didn’t…
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, Petrov-Agatov. And he wrote interesting poems, if he really authored them. In fact, he was a wide boy…
Z.V.Popadiuk: I still remember some excerpts of his poetry...
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Good poems, I also heard them. But he came to a sticky end.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not know that.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He ended… Actually, it was not the end of his life, but on February 2, 1977 the “Litieraturnaya Gazeta”, Moscow, published his article against Ginzburg and Orlov…
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not remember this.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And in those very days they were arrested for their membership in the Moscow Helsinki Group. And here in Ukraine, on February 5, Rudenko and Tykhy were arrested for their participation in the Ukrainian group…
Z.V.Popadiuk: It is just like him.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And this is despite the fact that Ginsburg, when he retired, granted him from the Solzhenitsyn Fund money to buy a room in Tarusa so that he could live there; that is how he returned evil for good…
Z.V.Popadiuk: I remember:
"There is a legend how once for men
a swallow stole the fire from heaven.
God raged and hurled then
lightning to kill impudent bevan.
Like dagger split it birdie’s tail,
and wings grew black in their dart,
but carried she for men’s avail
stars’ sparks to warm a human heart."
I do not remember now how it ended.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: His poems were rather interesting. He eventually attended our Ukrainian evenings, or on Shevchenko’s day, and shed a tear.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, he’s a cool man. He charmed us in Potma… I had a company there, some young guy… It was Liubomyr Starosolskyi, really and truly! (Born 8.05.1955 in Stebnyk, Drohobych Region, Lviv Oblast. Imprisoned on 9.02.1973 under art. 2 part 1 for 2 years for hanging out together with Stephen Kalapach Ukrainian flag in Stebnyk on 9.05.1973. He served his sentence in Mordovia camp no. 19). I met Starosolsky in the Lviv KGB detention center right before our departure. We were transported together. Well, we were kept in Potma, and all of a sudden they made this Avakov and this Petrov-Agatov go out of our cell and instead we saw another dangerous special state offender entering the cell: Mykytko! Unshaven… we’d been already shaved, and he was unshaven still. They kept us there all night… And then he was taken away. They moved him to the 17 camp, where he fell into Chornovil’s hands.
What else happened during the investigation? Several psychological occurrences. For example, they knew that I had met with a woman. They figured out when she passed the windows of investigatory isolation ward on her way to the university. And at that very time they called me for examination. Summer, open windows… you may relax and stand near the open windows, take the air… And unexpectedly I caught sight of the woman. Such moments.
One day I came for investigation and saw a bouquet of flowers on the table. Chocolate, postcard. From whom? It appeared that they were from Khrystyna… There was one such Khrystyna Pidsadnyuk: she died in childbirth. She was a sister of my schoolmate, her husband was Mykola Svarnyk. She married again, they had a son, who still cannot move, though he is thirteen by now, cerebral palsy. She died in childbirth; he rears the child himself. He didn’t marry all those years and got married only now.
But I’m not about these flowers as such. I want to know from whom they are. And my birthday was in a day or two or three. And they said: “Wait, wait, let’s see the postcard!” And the investigator looked fixedly at me. Of course, he snatched the postcard out of my hands, but I already figured out who wrote it. They thought that I wouldn’t manage figuring it out and that I might think about someone else. As a result of heart-to-heart talk that day they succeeded in getting a thing or two out of me. By the way, I’m not a spy or know-it-all to spill things of real importance. That is there is nothing for me in it to repent about. I didn’t blurt out a thing about my mom’s participation in any kind of activities. By the way, it was typical of the whole process of investigation. I had an impression, especially strong in the beginning, that they cared more about my mother, than me. At least it seemed so.
Well, we arrived in Mordovia. And we know quite a lot about Mordovia: being inmates we had a bitter experience. The first impressions from those prisoners who did 25-year terms were very strong and positive.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Whom did you know there?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Dmytro Syniak cut a fine figure. At one time He was a UIA aide-de-camp. He was not Rakhiv Region but from the other side of the Carpathians, from Yasynia. Synia Yasynia… no, rather Zelena…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: No, Dmytro Syniak’s native land is somewhere near Hvizd, Zahvizdya…
Z.V.Popadiuk: It’s Nadvirna Region. Then Ivan Myron.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: The latter is from Bychkivtsi near Yasynia, from Rosishky.
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, from Rosishna. (The book of referencereads: Rosishka.--VO). Mykhailo Zhurakivsky is from Yaseniv. Mykola Konchakivskyi is from Rudky, Mykolayiv Region. Roman Semeniuk is from Sokal. He had a very interesting story about his escape from the camp and great cruise down the Dnipro River, across Ukraine, and about dropping leaflets. They escaped from the camp together with Antin Oliynyk…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: That one was executed by shooting, and Roman was added three years.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, he served 28 years. He’s dead already: he had a road accident somewhere.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Perhaps one of them is still alive Ivan Myron.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Ivan Myron… he was a sort of goblin… He wasn’t penitent, but his life was penitential. He was in the UIA only one day. He just came and got into the secret dugout, as I remember it…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was then 20 years old. And got 25 years…
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah. They forced such guys out from the camps in 1956; they said such prisoners had to sign something, but Ivan kept his ground and stayed. There were also Lithuanians Liudas Simutis and Petras Paulaitis of blessed memory. With him I made friends there because I respected him very much.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: With Petras Paulaitis you were at first in the seventeenth camp?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, sorry: later he was in the nineteenth, as I came back from Vladimir. In general, I was bowled over by him. Out of respect for him I even learned Lithuanian language and still remember it.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were there Ukrainians there?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I’ve named those old men who impressed me with their terms. What was the most interesting, they did know much about the current situation… I came, a young philologist, I’d just made myself familiar with the poetry of the Sixtiers, I was under the fresh impression of them and these oldies knew it all as well as I! And they were doing their 25-year terms at the time. So, I was very impressed.
As regards my likes I remember Vasyl Dolishnyi (born 11.13.1930, Village of Pidluzhzhia, Tysmenytsia Region, Stanislav Oblast, now Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.--† 31.12.1995, Village of Pidluzhzhia. From the age of 13 he was a UIA orderly, arrested when he was 16 years old, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 5 years of deprivation of civic rights. Discharged on 04.09.1954. Arrested for the second time on 21.02.1972, 7 years of tight security and 3 years of exile under art. 62 of the CC of the UkrSSR. In July 1984 he was charged with “malicious hooliganism”, 3 years--V.O.) and Kuzma Matviyuk (born 2.01.1941 in Khmelnytsky Oblast, engineer, lecturer, arrested in Uman on 13.07.1972 under art. 62 part 1, sentenced to 4 years--V.O.) and Hryts Makoviychuk (Hryhoriy Trokhymovych Makoviychuk, born in 1935 in Vinnytsia Oblast. Worker at Kremenchuk Automobile Plant. Sentenced to 3 years for leaflets. Article 62, part 1, 1972-75.--V.O.), and Kravtsiv Igor (born in 1938, engineer from Kharkiv. Imprisoned in 1972 for samvydav. Article 62, part I, 5 years. He served his sentence in the Urals and Mordovia.--V.O.) and probably…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And I was brought there.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, of course, Ovsiyenko arrived. Well, Starosolskyi was with me.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: There were also young Lithuanians.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I remember very well Lithuanian Rimas what’s his last name.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I’ve also forgotten the last name of Rimas. (Chekialis.—Z.P.).
Z.V.Popadiuk: He was a young lad, he played flute.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, he played flute with inspiration.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I was also under great impression of Russian monarchists Vagin, Kapranov, Avierochkin, then I met Ogurtsov in the medical zone. Well, and this little team of participants of the Dymshits–Kuznetsov aircraft hijacking affair or “Group-29”.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Aircraft hijacking affair.
Z.V.Popadiuk: There was one such Azernikov…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, Anatoliy Azernikov, Lassalle Kaminsky, Boris Penson, Mykhail Korenblit.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Do you remember Kronid Liubarski?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, Kronid Liubarski was there as well. There was Alexander Romanov from Saratov, our colleague.
Z.V.Popadiuk: By the way, he’s recently written me a letter. I’m ashamed that I haven’t answered him.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Alexander Romanov wrote the famous epigram on Zorian Popadiuk.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You’ve got no idea? He imitated the style of the famous poem by Lermontov: “He catches fire like a match, But fire is useless in a hatch”.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I had no idea that it concerned me.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And one more about Kronid Liubarskii; he was passing the barrack where Kronid lived (and Kronid was a sprig of the nobility): “Here’s the abode of noble kid Lyubarskyi by the name Kronid!”
Z.V.Popadiuk: And I still keep recalling those old-fashioned primitive severe policemen patrolling there with the bands…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And such puns for IOC: “Internal order council” or “Informer’s oft-repeated constitutional”.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes. And I was under very strong impression from it. And about the everyday life in the camp, I think, I couldn’t tell anything special. With me it was somehow so… With me things settled one way or another.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Zorian fulfilled his camp quota: to experience everything possible. The cooler, cell-like room, and Vladimir prison.
Z.V.Popadiuk: It wasn’t an end in itself. I simply came to the zone.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You yourself told me: one needs to visit all possible places.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Maybe I said something like it, but I was not eager to experience all of it. Once I was just going somewhere and met Lieutenant Colonel Velmakin, tall man, chief of regulations. He was just approaching me: he did not know me and I did not know him. He passed me. “Why don’t you greet me?" What possessed me to retort: “Why should I?” Something like that, I do not remember. Or: “I wish you no good at all”.—“And what punishment do you deserve for this?” And I said: “Why? I might do without it and I deserve a great long life and what about this punishment?” Well, I just acted the fool. He gave me 14 days, on the third day. Thus my camp experience began. But I gradually put that and that together.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What was wrong with your heart at the time?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Well, nobody knew about it: at first my blood pressure began jumping and cardiovascular problems ensued. When it hikes I fall down and see nothing, when it sinks my head is in a whirl and I sicken; then again my blood pressure increases and I have the same symptoms or even worse. In the 19th camp it was not so bad yet, but in the 17th it was much worse. The summer was hard to bear and I was on nitroglycerine. Once I dropped and they took me to bed and prescribed bed rest for 20 days: they believed that was a heart attack. And after that I was sent from the 17th to Vladimir.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Wait. When did they move you from the 19th?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I don’t quite remember that day.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I remember when winter came at the end of 1974, you and Liubomyr played in the snow, wrestled with one another, and I looked and thought: just kids!
Z.V.Popadiuk: We made a bust of Stus of snow. Stus went from the punishment cell to the bathhouse, and in the meantime Starosolsky and I made the snow bust of Stus. I reckon they transported me from the 19th to the 17th sometime in February 1975. And Heifetz was in the 17th. No, he hadn’t been there, he arrived later… There were Paulaitis, Dmytro Kvetsko (born in 1935, leader of the Ukrainian National Front, jailed in 1967 for 15 years and 5 years of exile. He served his sentence in Mordovia, in the Perm Oblast, in Siberia.—V.O.), Valery Graur, Paruir Airikyan, and Razmik Markosian.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Markosian was in the 19th.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Markosian might be in the 19th, and there was, perhaps, Ruben Arutiunian.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: There were such guys as Vitaliy Lysenko and Yuriy Butenko…
Z.V.Popadiuk: By the way, where is Lysenko now? Nobody seems to know. He was Ukrainianized. And Butenko… I remember something but rather vaguely…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: The case of these guys was very specific: they were charged with disclosure of classified information…
Z.V.Popadiuk: And there was Petr Petrovich Lomakin, a unique person. Lomakin helped me to go to Vladimir because I could not stand his squealing anymore and I decided to bonk him on the head. Not literally bonk on the head, but I rather derided him: we were talking at the door, and he was eavesdropping on the other side of the door clinging to it, so I pulled the door sharply and he barged into the workshop, and I shoved him back. That’s all. He ran to the administration to complain that I’d beaten him. That was the story. And they gave me the appendage to my term, because I, so to speak, assaulted “Petr Petrovich Lomakin who was trying to go straight” while I “evaded going straight, violated norms, for which I was incarcerated many times and locked in a cell-like room.”
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How many times were you locked in a cell-like room?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Maybe twice. One time I was locked in one cell-like room with Stus.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Was the locking term less than six months?
Z.V.Popadiuk: One time I spent four months there. They gave me six months, but then we just went on hunger strike because of Chornovil: we protested that they taunted Chornovil in the punishment cell. Then Stus, I and Lisovyi and someone else went on hunger strike; in fact there were a lot of people. As a result of that hunger strike, they reduced our term. They revived us after the hunger strike and cast out of the cell-like room. Then Stus was transported to his third camp, and I was moved to the 19th. Therefore I spent there to the tune of four months altogether. That is how I remember it; perhaps I may be wrong.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And from the 17th to Vladimir you were probably brought sometime before October 30, 1975?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, on October 28. 28th is a special date for me. I was arrested on March 28 and, naturally, then released. On October 28th they transported me from Lviv to Mordovia.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: On October 30, 1975, on the Day of the Soviet Political Prisoner, they transported me from the 19th to the 17th camp, where your place was still warm, and they put me on it.
Z.V.Popadiuk: So, they hospitalized me with the heart disease. I stayed in bed there and not long after they sent me to Vladimir. I had bad heart and the road was heavy. In Vladimir they put me up in the cell of Superfin Gabriel. There was also Andrei Turyk, already deceased. The third one was Bodar from Cherkasy or Bila Tserkva, I don’t remember, Ukrainian democrat. Bondar, but I do not remember his name. (Mykola Vasyliovych Bondar, b. 21.11.1939, Vapniarka Station, Vinnytsia Oblast. Kyiv University (1968), philosopher. Arrested during demonstration in Kyiv on 7.11.1970 with the slogan “Shame to the CPSU Party “eadership!” Seven years of imprisonment in camps of Mordovia and the Urals, in the Vladimir prison.--V.O.). We were together in prison. They came from the Urals, and I came from Mordovia. They warmed me there first and nursed me back to health.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you on medium security there?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Initially in the jail I was on maximum security and then, like everyone else, on low security. And then I achieved the status of political prisoner, we refused to work and they switched us to the maximum security for six months. Then followed a couple of punishment cells and maximum security ensued again. And so it went. I was kept there in punishment cells as well.
I came there in late October and early November. In December I met in the Vladimir prison hospital Volodymyr Roketsky. They took him away on the New Year’s Eve, on December 31. I was left alone. I remember that New Year’s Eve: at midnight there was thunderstorm and pelting rain.
There was another interesting case. Mykola Budulak-Sharygin. if he is still alive, he is very old now. I had heart pains. They treated me with vitamins and high-calorie diet and hospitalized. Sometimes I felt crummy all night. There was such Elena Nikolaevna Butova, surgeon and chief of the medical unit. One day in the spring of 1976, maybe even at the end, she again called me to the doctor’s office and prescribed a heap of drugs. I always had Validol about me. When I was about to leave her office she said, “Wait, come back. Where are you from? Were you prescribed at school such small white pills? Were you given pills regularly?”−“Yes”. In fact, nobody prescribed me such pills. She carried out some tests and said, “Well, I’ll leave Validol, just in case”. Something against pressure, Bendazol or something. And she proceeded: “And these you’ll take in emergency cases, I prescribe you one pill a day for a week, then one pill a week”. Imagine, I took one pill and until evening felt nothing, neither pain, non dizziness, nor weakness. The same the next day, too, for more than a month I felt nothing. And I’ve been lucky to feel nothing to the present day. It turned out that it was normal hyperthyroidism, and it was responsible for such complications. They treated me to the special jail no. 1 and all heart problems were over! Yes, it did happen.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I’m afraid that sometimes your pronunciation is inarticulate and it will be difficult to transcript my recording.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Well, we may syllabicate for that matter.
Then in summer of 1976 they brought me from Vladimir to Lviv in order to convince me that time had passed, and I could realize that I had acted the goat, that the life was just coasting along, much better than it had been a few years ago. “And you might as well go back to the university.” And then they went at my mother and tried to persuade her, on the one side, and tried to gain over me, on the other side, to play with the idea of going abroad. I’ll be damned if I know! Perhaps they simply put forth a feeler. So it happened.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And how long did it take?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Maybe about a month.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And the road even more?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Plus the time of travel.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Maybe under safe convoy?
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, just ordinary transport under guard, with stops at all points. During that transfer I contracted tuberculosis. It happened not in Serdobsk, but in some transit prison… Maybe it was Ruzayevka. No, Saratov for sure.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did they keep you in the same cell with the tuberculosis prisoners?
Z.V.Popadiuk: From Serdobsk zone they transported twenty-something tuberculosis prisoners who spit blood; I caught a cold, and stayed with them for about twelve days. When I returned to my prison, I also began to cough, and even red blood cells were on my handkerchief. Then it passed. I did not tell about it anybody until that blood spitting ended. I wouldn’t dream of doing something about it. When I went from the prison to the zone I weighed 49 kilograms.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where did they return you?
Z.V.Popadiuk: They returned me to the 19th zone in Mordovia. It was already in October 1978. I was the last political prisoner to leave the Vladimir prison. A month before all of them were transported to Chistopol. And I spent six weeks in the punishment cell for some kind of strike. I spent 15 days there. Late in the evening they brought me a couch to sleep on. It is very cold in those prison cells. And I told them that I did not bring it in and I would not bring it out. I used to be a spiteful guy. “How come?”−“You heard me!”−“If we take it away we won’t bring it in tomorrow.”−“Well, I won’t beg you.” They gave me 15 days for this wrangle. And they never brought that couch in again.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And how did you sleep?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I made myself more comfortable. It was a punishing cell and there was a pipe in the cell. The pipe was hot in winter. It could not warm a man, but it was so hot that you could burn yourself. Well, it couldn’t heat the stone walls. So I came up with an idea/ I made a sort of two bands of my overalls, which were durable as ropes, hooked them to the lattice as there was a small window over the pipe, tied those ropes round myself and made myself suspended a little over the pipe. Excuse me, but now I warmed my ass. Great! It was not hot, but really warm. And in such a way I slept round the clock. Those poor guys−there were many coolers in the corridor−were seesawing, cursing, swearing, and kicking up a row, because it was really cold there. While I was warm as a toast and I slept. They had no idea how I solved the difficulty. They peeped into the peephole and thought that I was sitting on the pipe. And one couldn’t straddle the pipe. So I slept for six weeks.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Sort of winter sleep.
Z.V.Popadiuk: The best sleep possible! At least I rested in the punishment cell. The main thing that I figured how to warm myself and how to overcome the cold. I had enough sleep. When my term ended, I was sent to Mordovia.
MORDOVIA ONCE MORE
It was somehow easier In Mordovia. In the 19th camp it was a little bit easier then: the diet was better.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Whom did you manage to find there in 1978? Was Mykola Rudenko there?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Rudenko was in the third. Later they transported me to the third. But I do not remember when it happened. With Paulaitis I was in the 17th earlier, and now I met him in the 19th. He was surprised that I knew Lithuanian a little, because before I didn’t know it. So we became friends with Paulaitis… I have to go to his grave. There were other known prisoners also, but now I really cannot remember. There were some old timers as well.
And in the third camp I met Yuri Badzio (Yuri Badzio, b. 25.04.1936, Village of Kopynivtsi, Mukachevo Region, Zakarpattia Oblast. Arrested in Kyiv on 23.04.1979 under part I art. 62 seven years of maximum security (ZhH-385/3-5, Mordovia), 5 years of exile in the Village of Khandiga, Yakutia. Discharged on 8.12.1988.--V.O.), Leonid Lubman from the 19th zone. Then, in 1978, there was Khnokh Aryeh, Jew.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did you know Dmytro Mazur?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not remember. There was Mykola Rudenko in the third (19.12.1920−1.04.2004. Writer, human rights activist, Chairman of the UGG (9.11.1976), arrested on 5.02.1977, seven years of imprisonment and five years of exile. Discharged in October 1987. Taras Shevchenko State Prize Winner, Full Member of Ukrainian Free Academy, Hero of Ukraine.--V.O.), and Volodymyr Romanov, not Olexander. It seems he was a monarchist, but not of the kind that we’d seen before, but the constitutional monarchist.
On March 25, 1980 I left the zone and was transported under guard… And it took me quite a time, maybe six weeks. When I arrived at my destination, there were already provisionary letters awaiting. The Kalynetses thought that so long as the transport was behind schedule and nothing had been heard of me they decided they decided to write to the address of Stus, because they believed that I could be there. So there I found the letters addressed to me from Igor Kalynets. (Born on 9.07.1939, imprisoned on 11.08.1972 under part 1 art. 62 for 6 years and three years of exile. Poet, Tars Shevchenko State Prize Winner, 1991--V.O.). This was the settlement of Matrosov. Once it had been called the Beria Mine and now it was Matrosov Mine. Tenkinsky Nasleg, Magadan Oblast.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where do you lay stress on in this name of Nasleg Tenkínsky?
Z.V.Popadiuk: They pronounced it this way. And the urban settlement Ust-Omchug was the administrative center of Tenkinsky District, 130km from the mine, and there was the settlement in the vicinity of former gold beneficiating mill, where I was brought; its name was Omchak, six kilometers. You just go downhill and there you find this Omchak.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So you lived in the same dorm as Stus did?
Z.V.Popadiuk: On the same floor, two rooms up the hall from Stus. The guys told different stories about him. Each one viewed the things differently. There was one whatshisname from Halychyna. He took offence at Stus who used to observe that the guy would better speak Ukrainian: “I have been here for six years now; how can I speak Ukrainian?” Such was the guy.
So I stayed in exile; around six weeks I worked as a miner.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What were you doing there?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I just worked in the mine. They gave me a knock-boring machine: it is like a coal hammer, but on a support. I drilled blast holes to the depth of about five feet. I had to drill a total of twelve or fourteen holes, I do not remember. I had 6 hours to drill tubular holes in the face. It was the 600th horizon: 600 meters underground. Then came blasters, loaded holes with explosives and then detonated them. Then the scraper loaded the wagons and the remaining slough was shoveled, and that’s that. Afterwards came timbermen…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It is a kind of ore or what?
Z.V.Popadiuk: It is a gold ore. Then that ore was transported by big KAMAZ or Škoda Czech dump trucks to the gold beneficiating mill.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It seems there were clouds of dust!
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, dust. But I worked six weeks and was paid a lot of money: over UAH1000 per month. At the time I made a scoop; as the world goes it is a lot of money today as well. After a while they brought down there a photofluorographic unit and began checking. They examined me and found a spot on the lungs. They took me to the Debina Village: that is the 464th km of the Kolyma−Magadan highway up north. From my place it meant about 200km eastward and another 100km down south. My settlement was located on the 560th kilometer. The Kolyma Highway forks into two ramifications, and further down the road the second branch converges with that Tenkinsky Highway, and then it leads to Yakutsk in winter because in summer it is impassable. In short, there I underwent a lung surgery. They found a spot there. At first they treated for tuberculosis, but the therapy, including medicine droppers, produced no results, and they diagnosed tuberculoma. In fact, tuberculoma is a self-recovered tuberculosis. However, the nidus of infection remains; it is usually skinned with thick layer of calcified tissue. If it splits, it may be re-infected.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When did they perform the surgery?
Z.V.Popadiuk: They performed it in the fall of 1980. The whole summer I stayed in bed. They hospitalized me in July, so July, August, September, and on October 10 I underwent surgery. It really was the tuberculoma and they extirpated two segments of the right lung and that’s all. They treated me until January; as a result I spent around seven months in that hospital. After that I returned back to the mine. However, this time I didn’t go down to work in the shaft; I began working in the carpentry shop on the ground. We manufactured all sorts of things. I worked until April or May, it was already warm outside. No, in May, I still could get home for 10 days…
[End of the track]
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not remember whether it was 9 May or later that I received a telegram from home that my mother took to bed, that she had a stroke, and I was given 10 days leave not including the time of travel.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How did you go, how did you reach home?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I went by plane from Magadan to Moscow and again by plane to Lviv. There is a regular bus to Magadan, about 8-10 hours drive, and then by the IL- 62plane eight hours to Moscow. Then from Moscow I flew on plane to Lviv and from Lviv I arrived here. Here I spent 10 days.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: In what condition was your mother?
Z.V.Popadiuk: My mother could walk, but she had a difficulty of speech and she couldn’t move her left hand. She could not lie. She was walking hither and thither near the khata.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So you spent all your leave in Sambir?
Z.V.Popadiuk: You’re right. After my leave-time expired I returned to exile. It was already at the beginning of July. Then they summoned me to Ust-Omchug, to the regional center, to the KGB. They started bullying me: you dirty so-and-so, we will come down on you and pin a new accusation on you for something. We began bickering. They pretended they were about to arrest me because I was at it. At long last they conclude: go back to work and we’ll sort it out here.
I went back to my Matrosov mine. The next day a security officer arrived, came to my work, and said that he had already settled the issue with my superiors, everything had been arranged, and I had to go and get my final pay. He handed me the documents he already had. Let’s go. Where to? To Kazakhstan. The fifth department in Moscow ordered that because of tuberculosis or those operations I had to be transferred to less remote locations.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did anyone intercede for you?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Nobody as far as I know. Maybe it was the result of foreign broadcasts. I mean I could write letters stating that was there and it was cold there, it might have been, but there were no applications or solicitations.
KAZAKHSTAN. SECOND TERM
It was enough that they brought me to Aktyubinsk under the convoy of that security officer. He convoyed me to Magadan, then with a change of plane in Yakutsk we flew to Aktyubinsk5. In Aktyubinsk he told me “bye-bye!”, handed me a document, like you guy do your best and reach the Aul of Saralzhin, which is Kazakh for “yellowish”, Bokey Orda Region. It’s down south from Aktyubinsk. Sands. I was without any money whatsoever, without a cent of money. I took out the documents and began tinkering with the idea of getting anything to eat: I was hungry as a hunter. I sat at the railroad station waiting for the bus to arrive. Over there the railroad station and bus terminal are combined. Then the Moscow train arrived and I saw a woman with two kids who carried heavy luggage. The weight of it nearly knocked the wind out of her. Suddenly came to me an idea to help her. I took those bundles and carried them to the taxi. And they shoved some money in my pocket. I took money out and it was the Soviet three-ruble note. This three-ruble note could cover my grub and trip. So I ate my fill and bought a ticket which cost more than one ruble. And I arrived at my destination. They settled me in the room where previously this one… Valeriy Marchenko lived (Valeriy Veniaminovych Marchenko. 16.10.1947−7.10.1984. Journalist, member of the UHG. Imprisoned on 25.06.1973 for six years and two years of exile, arrested again on 21.10.1983 for 10 years of special treatment and five years of exile. He died in a prison hospital in Leningrad. Buried in the Village of Hatne near Kyiv during the feast of the Protecting Veil in 1984.--V.O.) and then a Georgian woman… Pailodze. They put me there. I went to work as a carpenter. I refurbished the apartment, made a spacious and warm hall and a new entrance door. In short, I made a comfortable apartment to live in. Apparently, neither Valery nor this woman paid any attention to it. I changed everything there to make the apartment warmer.
There I lived for about a year. The first vacation I got again in July or for the whole month of July, 30 days, and they permitted me go home on leave. I arrived in Sambir and spent here about a month. Then I returned to Kazakhstan.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What was the condition of your mother at the time?
Z.V.Popadiuk: My mother recovered a little in comparison with the previous year, but then I came right after the stroke. This time she looked passably and we used to go for a walk…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And what were her means of subsistence? I mean, two old women lived there… Was she a pensioner?
Z.V.Popadiuk: She had disability pension, second group. My grandma also received a pension. My second grandmother received a pension as well. I also sent money from Kolyma. They bought a big color TV−at that time it cost a lot of money−and a refrigerator. The Amnesty International also helped: from time to time they sent a package…
By the way, I used to meet Oksana here several times, I was a guest of them, they lived there on Sadova Street. And we knew each other with Oksana from childhood.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You went to the same school?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Thus, from the fifth grade we studied together. The moment I came to their class I began chasing after her. Her mother forced her to answer my notes. Then the fate decreed differently…
I returned to Kazakhstan and went to work. I went to work and on the very first day the KGB officers arrived and run me in. For three months in Aktyubinsk prison they rang the changes: what were you doing? They pressurized me both literally and figuratively.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did the investigating officer do it with his own hands, or what?
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, not the investigators… the investigators kept asking and then they let me go to my cell. They accused me of not being buttoned up or something and used to send me to a punishment cell for a day or two. At night the guards came and, so to speak, kicked me about. That was five times. Then the security men came, but I did not complain. I knew that they were behind it and decided that I would say nothing. And then they cooked up that investigation. The investigators gathered letters from all friends to whom I wrote…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And did the record of the proceedings comprise?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Nothing… only that what the judgment included.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I have it, but please repeat it for the record…
Z.V.Popadiuk: In a letter to my mother, to Dolishne, I wrote something about Polish "Solidarity". The addressees were different. There were many of them; the officers conducted searches far and wide in Lviv, in Moscow and elsewhere in exile. In a letter to so and so I wrote about the Polish "Solidarity" and mentioned the Czech events.
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, I do not remember… nobody told me about Afghanistan. Well, I was in 1981.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Afghanistan was occupied on December 29, 1979.
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, there was no question of that, I do not remember. It seems I wrote about Kazakh nationality… and they found it. Somewhere I either told Kazakhs something or wrote something about the Kazakhs or joked about national traits. They compiled all this crap and construed a well-founded accusation. This time they made an unimaginable fabrication. They showed no documents. I spent a month in the regional hospital for disease prevention. I talked with somebody there while listening to the radio… while listening to the radio I commented on something in conversation with someone there. Unexpectedly these comments turned out to be the opposition against the Soviet power and that’s what I had.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Obviously, they wanted to prevent your returning Ukraine. How long was it to the end of the term?
Z.V.Popadiuk: A lot of time yet. It was in 1982, and I had to serve my exile term up to 1985.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Wow! They always hurry on.
Z.V.Popadiuk: And then there was a farcical trial into the bargain, but there was nothing for it. I was sent up for a new term: ten years in prison and five of exile. But it hadn’t to be the tight security due to my tuberculosis. Indeed, at the time there existed a law under which the accused suffering from such diseases could not be recognized recidivists.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Kind of humane treatment it was!
Z.V.Popadiuk: And so I was sent to the Urals. Before I left the prison they beat me black and blue for good memory, because from time to time I placed demands on them. For example, if they did not take me out for a walk, I demanded a walk. IN general, those were the evil days: Brezhnev had just died and Andropov assumed power, and the treatment in the jail underwent drastic changes, they even set dogs on prisoners. Immediately we saw the iron hand in action.
They convoyed me to the Urals, zone no. 36 in Kutchino, and I served there until 1987. Except for the time I spent in the prison hospital. No, then they moved us from the 36th to the 37th. I was released from the 37th. Or not… I cannot remember...
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I wonder how did the procedure look like? I remember that back then, in 1987, and started ripping the sawdust out of those on tight security. There were rumors that some Moscow officials visited the tight regime institutions. From Kyiv, by the way, there were no officials.
Z.V.Popadiuk: It was very simple. One day, it did happen at the 36th zone, so I’d been in the 37th zone before and after a time they returned me to the 36th. Towards evening they simply assembled us in the medium security barack−11 or 12 people−with bindles to be ready for the transportation under guard. We stayed in or cell: 4-5 prisoners per cell. Nobody knew where they would lead us, maybe to the 37th zone, and maybe as far as to Yavas, or maybe some other administration.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yavas is somewhere in Mordovia…
Z.V.Popadiuk: And another whatsitsname… Yeah, Vsesvyatskaya. Well, they brought us to Vsesvyatskaya. At the railroad station they disembarked us from the cars for prisoners and at that time a long-distance train came in. We, 10-14people, entrained. When we were seated in the sleeping car together with ordinary passengers, we realized that we were going somewhere, to an unknown destination. For example, here’s how it happened in my case. There were two passengers sitting in one compartment and I and somebody else were told to occupy vacant seats while two soldiers kept guard at the door. It took us several hours to travel from Vsesvyatskaya to Perm.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And no one spilled a word where you were going?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Even more than that: those soldiers on guard asked quietly, “Where are you going?” We realized that as we were transported in such cars, something peculiar should happen. But we were safely transported to Perm, paddy-wagons rolled up, they brought us to a Perm prison, shoved us into our cells and everything became okay again, again at home.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Again, one of the jailers who searched us said: “Hey, why have they brought in such a crowd here?” And on the second or third day they called out of the cell one man, called out the second, called out the third. They put the same questions: "Where would you like to live after your release? Where would you return?”—“Where… where… back home!”—“Where?”−“Well, where… where you detained me.”−“Your home address, please.” Well, my address is such and such. “What would you occupy yourself with?”−“Well, I’d look and see.”—“Would you participate in anti-Soviet activities again?”−“I was not engaged in anti-Soviet activities why should I participate in it in the future?"
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I don’t need it…
Z.V.Popadiuk: “That’s all, you may go.” The same repeated with the second fellow-inmate. It happened on January 31, 1987. Then on February 3, already at night, 11 pm… they didn’t switch off the radio. Usually they switched it off at 10 pm, and now it was 11 pm already, and the radio was still broadcasting music. In our cell each one minded his own business. There were also my cellmates Mykhailo Kukobaka from Belarus, somebody else. Suddenly the newscaster announced that “the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a Decree about pardon of a number of jailed persons…” When we heard it on the radio, we started to try it on. We were reviewing the situation, laughing, and at long last went to bed. Why did we go to bed without thinking about ourselves? Because each of us thought as follows: yeah, they called us out, maybe someone somewhere repented? Maybe someone came home by weeping cross? Perhaps they’ve decided to release as a penitent? But nobody admitted it concerned himself personally.
In the morning, the door opened: “Let’s go get your belongings!” And they moved us to other cells. The new cells were more spacious…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Who were your new cellmates, Ukrainians?
Z.V.Popadiuk: There were Yosyp Terelia (born on 27.10 1943; political prisoner in 1962-66, 1966-76, 1977-82, 1982-83, and 1985-87.--V.O.), Vitaly Shevchenko (born on 20.03.1934, journalist. Imprisoned on 14.04.1980 for seven years and 4 years of exile under art. 62 p. 1.--V.O.). There was someone else I do not remember. Our group included 16 people. There were Biedarkov, Grigoryi Isaev from Kuibyshev. We spent another day in that new cell. They had already read out that we had been released.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did this order concern all and sundry or each one individually?
Z.V.Popadiuk: The officers entered the cell and read out the list naming everybody individually. We were released according to the Ukase of 2 February 1987. And now we had the evening of February 4. They read out that we were free. They released us in the cell and locked us up. But early in the morning they opened the cell, handed each one train ticket, belongings, money−about 200 rubles−and we went to Moscow. They brought us by a regular bus to the train, got us in one car, and we went to Moscow in prison uniforms with rucksacks, bald…
When we entered the car all passengers took fright of us. The situation was funny enough: I was with the one from Kuibyshev, which looked like Bolshevik, “Let’s go get some food at the restaurant car”. We sat down. And those passengers felt themselves uncomfortable: two prisoners with nameplates came in and ordered their meals… The waiters did not know what to do.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Maybe they played with the idea of calling the militia6?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Their hands trembled! They’d probably made a big deal out of it already. It’s enough to make a cat laugh…
We arrived in Moscow and walked around the town. We were stopped at every turn, they took us to the district militia stations, examined our documents uncovering our identities. At the very last they apprehended us in the central department store: we were putting our clothes on or buying something.
In the end I came to Lviv. I visited Mykhailo Horyn first thing. Mykhailo Horyn was still in the hospital. He was also discharged, but he was not at home.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So when did you arrive in Lviv?
Z.V.Popadiuk: It seems, on February 6, 1987. And Horyn was released in April, or maybe later… I know that he was ill.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Horyn was released on July 2, 1987…
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not remember… Yeah, at the time they brought him from the Urals to Lviv and at that moment he was in the hospital. Olga Horyn told me that my grandmother broke her leg and was in hospital. I then took a taxi and went to Sambir. I went home, greeted with granny’s sister and run to the hospital. So it was…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I have to ask: when did your mother die?
Z.V.Popadiuk: My mother passed away on September 19, 1984.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How did you learn about it?
Z.V.Popadiuk: That is an interesting story… At the time I was again protesting and I was visited by the clerk of the court. (Legal counsel, who served as clerk of the court in Aktobe, Galina Ustimenko, with whom we corresponded; she used to come to Sambir to visit me and my relatives. She sought, though unsuccessfully, to visit me.—Z.P.) And I was not allowed to see her. I declared a hunger strike. On the eighth day, or later, I do not remember, they brought… Well, no… I finally stopped the hunger strike… there was a sort of agreement. And on that day when I stopped my hunger strike, they brought me the telegram that my mother died. Or was it a letter? No, it was a letter, in reckon. It was on September 30.
FIRST STEPS AT LARGE
Well, now, I do not know whether it is interesting…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It is important: you should tell about developments after 1987.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I walked free from jail, met my present wife Oksana, and we got married…
Z.V.Popadiuk: In the same 1987, in August.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: According to documents, early in September 1987, the Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners was established, and there were your signature, Horyn’s, and someone else’s.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Actually the Committee met in Lviv for not all prisoners were released yet. For example, Khmara had not been released. I signed the document, but I do not remember that the committee acted at the time. Then everything went on in an unorganized manner. All committees separated and went political. (Ukrainian Initiative Group for the Release of Prisoners of Conscience was a NGO founded in August 1987 by six former political prisoners (Vasyl Barladianu Ivan Hel, Mykhailo Horyn, Zorian Popadiuk, Stepan Khmara, and Chornovil.) The statement about the creation of the group emphasized that the release of the prisoners of conscience did not address the causes of the conflict a person with power, and it can stop the proclaimed movement of the state towards democratization of political and social life. M. Horyn headed the group. The group demanded that the Government of UkrSSR released all political prisoners, removed from the Criminal Code the unconstitutional articles, under which the dissenters were repressed, and rehabilitate all Ukrainian political prisoners with payment of appropriate compensation. The group joined the International Committee of Prisoners. Its activities were covered in the Russian, Ukrainian and Armenian informal press. The group participated in the preparation of the International Public Seminar. Its work continued until 1990, when the last Ukrainian political prisoner Bohdan Klymchak was released. -- From the “Glossary” of Kharkiv Human Rights Group).
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, the group did its part, you protected rights of individuals. When in September 1988 I arrived in Lviv in order to visit Mykhailo Horyn, Dmytro Mazur was still in prison and his condition was very serious. It so happened that I knew most about him. Mykhailo says: write down this text, go to the post office and send Gorbachev this video telegram. (Dmytro Mazur, born 1939, Village of Guta Lohanivska, Malyn Region, Zhytomyr Oblast. Teacher, educator, fellow fighter of UGG, political prisoner in 1970-71, 1980-88.--V.O.).
Z.V.Popadiuk: In March or early in February 1988 I was employed by the trade administration: baked goods deliveryman. I rode by the bakery goods delivery truck and delivered bakery goods to baker’s shops. I tried to join public life somehow. From the very beginning I had conflicts with the militia and the KGB, because they didn’t issue me a passport and I had to fill out all forms, and they required to make it in Russian. There was a ballyhoo, but eventually they gave in.
Later, probably in March, 1988 or in February, we worked out a questionnaire on the public status of the Ukrainian language. We began testing the questionnaire in Sambir. At the time my Oksana worked as an engineer at a furniture factory and circulated the questionnaire among employees of the factory, and I in Lviv, in Shevchenko Grove before the start of a great jubilee celebrations. We collected a bunch of signatures. I went with the signatures to Kyiv. It was still cool: around the end of March or beginning of April. I started look for “out-of-sight” persons, who would take up the work in order to continue it and churn out the signatures. So where did I go? I went to the Writers’ Union. The session of the “Green World” took place in Mariyinsky Palace. Oksana was with me. She’s six months gone. There was Ivan Drach; I turned to Drach saying that we’d gathered thousands of signatures and here were the questionnaires. And before Roman Ivanychuk actually refused, as well as some other Lviv “out-of-sight” intellectuals: they were all afraid. Though I consulted on the text with Mykhailo Horyn, but I did not want to involve him in this case because his very name would scare people. Otherwise people were glad to sign.
In short, they chucked me out of the Writers’ Union. That said, that it is a great work, noble cause, but leave the Writers’ Union alone, because, as Ivan Drach told me, “You bring me 50 million signatures and I won’t be afraid to head and sign it and no one will say that the Writers’ Union has inspired this action.”−“Go to blazes” I thought. We found Mykola Riabchuk. Mykola Riabchuk agreed saying: “I’ll set about it”. But after a few weeks, the events leaped forward. I gathered additional dozens of thousands of signatures and then brought them to the same union. When I came for the second time to the Union with the signatures, they seized them with both hands and things began to take off. As times have changed, everything began to move forward. It’s one thing.
Another thing. We created a society. There was one Volodymyr Kobilnyk, local ethnographer and political figure. We named the society after him. He was one of the founders of the Boikivshchyna area museum in Sambir. This society actually acted in parallel with the Lev Society in Lviv. Life became turbulent. So the 1990 elections were on the threshold. Or was it in 1989…
There was an interesting moment. In 1989, when the election campaign was on the threshold, which was already 50% or 25% democratic, I was suddenly invited (and I was an ordinary bakery goods deliverer) by the First Secretary of the City Communist Party Committee and he started interrogating me, “Why do not you run for deputy?” Oh, those deputies, oh that’s something… I thanked him. He asked if he could help me with something, maybe he could find some other work. Can I give you a hand? This kind of talk. I expressed my gratitude to him and then went on delivering bakery goods and later I had my appendix excised and after surgery I applied for work as a carpenter at the furniture factory. However, it wasn’t that easy to realize, because the director of the factory made frequent visits to the KGB to clarify for himself if he could employ me as a cabinet maker. The KGB gave the green light for my employment as a cabinet maker.
The local “Prosvita” started me a nominee to the local Rada; there were 150 deputies in the Rada. I was nominated by my electoral district, where I live. But all of a sudden the trade administration, where I didn’t work at the time and had nothing to do with it, nominated me from the Central District, according to the local newspaper. I reckon the KGB officers had a hand in it: they prompted them to conduct a meeting and nominate me. I do not know whether they were from the KGB or not from the KGB, but they exerted every effort to involve me in public activity. I won the elections. I ran not in my district, but in the mentioned one, and there I won the election. They not only elected me deputy but later elected me the chairman of the City Rada. It was in May 1990. It was an interesting battle because they held the first session and suggested to elect the First Secretary of the Communist Party Committee the Head of the City Rada, but he was a few votes below the target. His rival, a Rukh member, was below the target as well. Then they nominated me and I won with a few extra votes. Before that there was great confusion, because the rural districts wished to break away from the city ones. The rural districts were comprised of the red directors or red heads of collective farms. And the urban districts usually included democrats. There were one third of urban districts and two thirds of rural ones. There were also protests in Lviv, and when I was suggested to head the city rada, I hurried to Chornovil. I went to him, and he was receiving people and asking advice what had to be done. I said, “Vyacheslav, they suggested that I head the Sambir Town Rada. What should I do?” And he answered: “Look! Recently I’ve been suggested to head the oblast rada and I think I should go”. I said: “Then let’s go”.
Our partocrats7 as we called them at the time rebelled at first; before those elections they went for a short time to Kyiv, where they received support. The Rada was not summoned; they intended to assemble a hundred those rural deputies separately. At the same time rose in rebellion the furniture factory, “Silhosptekhnika”, drove them out from all halls, where they planned to come together; each time the workers came and threw them out. Finally we had to enter into negotiations; all heads of collective farms accepted negotiations and agreed that we would hold the session together rather than split now. In the course of this session, on May 5, they secured for their group that the first deputy would be appointed on their behalf--from heads of collective farms. We agreed and the head was elected form the minority and the first deputy from the majority. But then everything underwent changes: people changed their views and the red directors became great nationalists literally in a month. (Sambir Town Rada at that time included 109 localities and consisted of 150 polling stations: 49 urban and 51 rural, that is it combined 150 deputies.—Z.P.).
I became Chairman of the Sambir City Rada, then the Chairman of the Executive Committee and Rada, which were combined in less than a year. Then I became the President’s Representative in Sambir Region and in the City of Sambir. In fact, such office in Sambir was illegitimate, because the law did not provide for it. In this way my city deputies delegated me functions of town management. And so it went on until 1994. In 1994, we went to the polls again but I did not take part this time. My first deputy ran for and won the election and became head of the administration, and I became his deputy.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Why did not you run for?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I had no such ambitions. I understood that my time was up: I did all I could when it was necessary to seize political power. Now it was time for others. Although I am very sorry: we carried out reforms and made a good start. For example, consider today’s presidential decree on reforms in agriculture: it is word for word the agenda of our session, and we have actually initiated them. In Ukraine we pioneered the privatization of state trading: we fully privatized it. All meat processing actually stopped but our first private firm--big meat processing and packing factory--worked. We took action and staked our all. On the one hand, my successor was a cool guy, but, on the other hand, he went no further, because, as they say, the best is oftentimes the enemy of the good. I kept pushing forward, to crush the old system.
And then Mykola Horyn made me the President’s Representative in Old Sambir… (Mykola Mykolayovych Horyn, brother of M. and B. Horyn, b. 29.01.1945 in the Village of Kniselo, Zhydachiv Region, Lviv Oblast. Graduated from Lviv Polytechnic in 1968. In 1990 Deputy, in 1992 Head of Lviv Oblast Rada, in 1995-97 Chairman of Oblast State Administration.—V.O.). It was from December 30, 1996 till April 1998. But till April was a formal date, because in fact I stayed in office until November 1997. Then I fell ill and was treated in Kyiv Institute of Neurosurgery and the rest of time I spent on the sick leave.
There arose a problem that people’s deputy Furdychko ran for deputy from the crossed Starosambir Distric and promoted Agrarian Party there, and I wasn’t in direct opposition to that, but I did not support it in any way. Therefore they actually decided to oust me. I felt it, and so I handed in my resignation. I wrote this resignation and two or three days later I fell ill, and they responded to that resignation too late when I was hospitalized in neurosurgery in Kyiv. The President issued his Ukase discharging me on the grounds of my resignation. And it was illegal. And the Presidential Ukase poised) in midair somewhere from November until mid-April next year. Then again I was transferred to the office of the deputy head of the regional administration in Sambir. It was a way out for them, because the ukase was illegal; then one after another the pilgrims arrived from Kyiv, from the President’s administration, to negotiate tackling the situation so that the wolves were sated and the sheep intact. Finally the compromise was made.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: This is your life story…
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not know if it is interesting enough… I do not remember everything. I happened to meet a lot of very interesting people. If I could commit it to paper… While speaking you cannot remember everything.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So try and commit it to writing. Anyway it is a live history.
Z.V.Popadiuk: What else can I say? I’ve never deviated from my views. I have always been tuned liberally, and I still stick to my opinion.
What can I say about present developments? Recently, some optimism showed up. No matter who is in power there, but everything is more or less good. I think that all those movements−now we have to say “movements” because the Rukh isn’t an only movement now−and all those petty or small individual parties, I think, should join the greater structures and make them like our former smaller organizations. Probably, there is no other way out.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It seems you’ve never been a party man yourself.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I was the NDP member and took a walk when it fell under Kuchma completely. Together with Stetskiv and his team I walked away. Later, I looked closely at the Reforms and Order Party, but I was scared away by some of the mechanisms of its activity. During the presidential elections, it turned out that it was not worth joining it.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Anyway, the Lord was gracious to you.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, of course, there is no doubt about it.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You experienced a lot of suffering, but you were given your due to some extent. At least, I know from you a bit about the story of you and Oksana: it is truly the story of mercy of the Lord.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Not only that. Say, here is an old woman, she is 95, and she’s lived to see me. She did not know how it would be. I have uneasy conscience because in the course of fourteen years I could take care of her. At least now, in her old age… and friends who kept out of the picture proved to be real friends. So I cannot say that my life was that bad−on the contrary. And finally, I can easily perceive life; probably I’m a light-headed person.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Judging by the way I kept persuading you to record this conversation, you are light-headed.
Well, Zorian, I’m very happy that we’ve finish the job. I thank you sincerely.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Thank you!
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I’ll try to give you a copy of this text. Maybe you will revise it, expand and make necessary additions. I’m tired of repeating that history is not always what really happened but what was written down. The history of the nation consists of stories of individuals.
This conversation we’ve concluded 28 January at 0 hours and 50 minutes, AD 2000.
Z.V.Popadiuk: So we’ve wasted two tapes, or haven’t we?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Why wasted? I intend to copy the records.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Know what tape I’ve got here? I have Krasivsky’s “Slaves Laments” read by himself.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yeah, but I cannot rewrite the tape here. At home I have twin-deck cassette recorder.
Z.V.Popadiuk: But the author’s voice is a cherished treasure for me now. We’ll figure how to do it.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: On the third cassette Zorian Popadiuk will tell about other people he knew.
[End of tape 2]
ABOUT BRILLIANT PEOPLE
V.V.Ovsiyenko: January 30, 2000. Zorian Popadiuk will tell us about the best people in the world beginning with Oksana Humenna, right?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Ooh! It’s an overwhelming task! Well, the objective is set, and so we start. It may take me a long while to recount everything about Oksana? A lot more than about myself.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: You may zero in on the chief events.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Surely, there are women about whom you can tell quite a lot. Even ungainly facts can characterize a person, especially if she was a real enchantress. And she was my classmate. We met when I came to her fifth grade because previously I attended another school. The very first moment I became her classmate I began to fall for her. So I made court to her for quite a time; she disregarded my attentions until her mother reproached her and said, “Well, had the cat got your tongue? The guy writes notes to you and you don’t care even to respond?” Well, so it was.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Really? Her mother interfered?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes. Once freed you wrote a letter to Oksana. Did you know it while still in camp or where from…
She first married my classmate when I was in prison. That was in 1975. She then graduated from the Lviv Forestry Engineering Institute and returned home to Sambir; such was the situation.
By the time I, so to speak (at least I thought so), I won Oksana’s heart−it happened in the eighth, or seventh grade − when I attained my end, I faced the challenge, as all teenagers did, of what is to be done next? I did not know what to do, and had, so to speak, to retreat somehow. Well, then came other times. I went to the tenth grade in Lviv and there I graduated from the school, there were other interests, I made new friends. We met sometime before my arrest.
When I came on leave from my exile, from Kolyma, Magadan Oblast, I went on a visit to them. They had a baby. During this meeting we were very excited. But the next year they let me go on leave from Kazakhstan. This time we missed each other for she went somewhere. But a lively correspondence sprang up between us. It was a nice correspondence. I did my term and returned. When I finally (finally, I hope) came out of that prison, we met and never parted again. At that time she had her own problem: her husband was very ill, alcoholism, advanced stage. The whole family got into trouble: for some time his brother abstained from alcohol addiction and then suddenly fell off the wagon again; the same about his father.
Well, be that as it may, they were almost separated. In short, she divorced her husband and we got married.
I don’t know whether she may be called a fun person. I do not know: you may call it an infatuation of a youngster or something, but I was stuck on her. I came to visit her one time, then again the second time, the third time; well, the third time it was a final decision. In addition, she was an activist, not an inert person. When we were still in school we got up to different shows and I always let her into our ideas. We went to Lviv to give credit for the graves of Sich riflemen; but now there was real work: the collection of signatures for making Ukrainian a state language. In fact, she started that action at a furniture factory where she worked as an engineer. As a result they obtained many thousands of signatures. For this action she was subject to repressions. However, she was not sacked for the new times were a lot freer. She started it, and then we decided to go public. She participated in creation of the text of that questionnaire; she edited and circulated it among people. She has a nervous temperament: if something goes wrong, she will fight to the bitter end.
So we began living together… Liubchyk was born into our family in Kyiv as a seven-month baby, because at the time we were busy with those signatures, and our signing campaign progressed in fits and starts, because such brilliant personalities as Drach, Roman Ivanychuk and others didn’t like taking part in this signing campaign. She was very nervous and it was contraindicated in her condition. For example−I do not know if I can tell it, but maybe it won’t be widely circulated−Ivan Drach said, “You bring me 50 million signatures, then I will sign it as well”. It happened at the Mariinsky Palace where a party congress or something was underway.
Then Liubchyk was born. (April 9, 1988.--V.O.). At the time we were in the Kyiv apartment of Olga Heiko. We were about to go to the subway station to return home, when labor pains began… (Olga Dmytrivna Heiko-Matusevych, b. 9.09.1953, Kyiv. Philologist, member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. Arrested on 12.03.1980, sentenced under article 187-I for 3 years; in Odesa on 12.03 1983, after receiving her certificate of release, she was arrested and charged under art. 62, part 1, sentenced to three years. She did her term in Mordovia. Activist of Ukrainian Culturology Club. Now journalist.--V.O.).
I’ve just told that Oksana gives you every attention and you gradually lose the ability to do housework, to go about the house for she takes everything upon herself. The only thing she fails at is to think my thoughts. And at times she rebels though: man, you’re getting far above yourself and shirk housework. Then I used to become full of zeal and started doing some kind of trifles like tinkering with a vacuum cleaner. Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little.
Of course, as the fates decreed she had to mess with her first husband. When we married, she moved to my house. And living conditions here were terrible. At the time my 95-year-old Grandma was 13 years younger but all the same it was a difficult age. And there was her sister, who was almost ninety. So Oksana saw that the life would not be easier for her. The accommodations here were less comfortable than at her previous home.
I worked and carried bakery products on my shoulders or my head. I head scanty earnings and we scratched out on her salary. And most importantly: our environment and friends did not try to understand us. Everyone, starting from the director of the furniture factory where she worked. He used to say: “Whatever turns you on”. He was the one who always walked with embroidered shirt, but for him it was… Because he was a jailer. The same was about our environment: where are you going? What do you take upon yourself? They’ll jail him tomorrow and you will be left with all those problems. I know nothing of her motivation at the time: a sense of duty, or love, or just some sort of obsession. I also realized that they could jail me anytime, especially as they kept pestering me then. And what if she will be left here on her own? Such was the situation. Now we hold a steady job together.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Zorian, I remember that when we were in Mordovia you said about Oksana as follows: “She’ll be waiting for me”. And I doubted whether she would be able to outlast twelve years of your imprisonment with very bleak prospects afterwards! Such thought had crossed my mind, but it turned out your way.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I really wonder that I said something about waiting for I didn’t conceive the situation in the category of waiting; I reckon that I would serve my term eternally, it seemed to me that I would never be released from the prison. I am very liberal in this regard. I always resented those who over there, in captivity, expected from their wives a sort of super-devotion.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: In connection with this, perhaps, we can remember Mykola Rudenko?
Z.V.Popadiuk: That’s what I had in mind. But not only. There was another such one whom I brought round. I always thought that if you want−but I do not know if it is for the record−if you want to have a woman that you want and love and respect, with whom you would be glad to go somewhere, the woman should be a woman and not a kind of guard in your house or something like that. I never urged anyone, for example, to be on the loose, but everyone should remain a human and I always managed to combine the concept of human with everything that is characteristic of the human being.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: But we’ve just remembered Mykola Rudenko. Did you happen to stay with him for a while in the camp number… nineteen, right?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I met him in the 19th in 1978. I came from Vladimir. In the 19th we were with him for nearly two and a half years. Subsequently, we, together with Mykola Rudenko, were moved to the third. Maybe I’m a little confused about details…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He is a man of whom it is necessary to fix everything that people remember.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I still have somewhere among my books one old book of his. I imagined Mykola Rudenko as kind of “Soviet writer”. And then I met him and immediately began reading me his poems, pieces of the long poem mentioning hunger… I was under impression of his Kolyma Highway, about which Petrov-Agatov wrote. He engraved on my memory at the time. And then… again, it is not worth bringing out everything here, but I see that Mr. Mykola is a novice, neophyte in his old age.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was born in 1920. This year, on December 19, he will be 80.
Z.V.Popadiuk: About the famine, the UIA… it was actually a new information for him then. All his whole life he had different circumstances and surroundings: he was also a war vet and he was wounded during the war. He spent his life in other coordinates. Nevertheless his dissent and his involvement in the Ukrainian Helsinki Group were a kind of protest of the Soviet citizen. I met him just during the process of breaking, basic reorientation, as they say now, his shift towards the political right. He was so enthusiastic about… in fact, not with enthusiasm, but with pain spoke about hunger. And then he used to add, “I know not really from my own experience, because I had other circumstances, I didn’t have firsthand knowledge”. This I remember from the first moment of meeting him.
There were various discussions. For example, in poetry he preferred traditional style. Then we discussed poetry of Igor Kalynets, his vers libre, poetry by Stus. Mykhailo Heifetz even formulated that discussion in a few words that I allegedly said that Stus was the major contemporary poet. And Mykola Rudenko remarked: “One cannot say so about living poet”. And I objected: “Well, you mean he has to die first?” Maybe it was a youthful exaggeration.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: But you’re not wrong about Stus. Mykhailo Heifetz turned your phrase into the title of his essay about Vasyl Stus: “The Ukrainian poetry now has no bigger poet…” (M.Heyfets. Ukrainian silhouettes.—“Suchasnist”, 1983.--P. 249-271, (in Ukrainian and Russian, also: Field of despair and hope. Almanac.—Kyiv, 1994.--P. 361-38); also: Mykhailo Heifetz. Selected Works. In three volumes. Kharkiv Human Rights Group.--Kharkiv: Folio, 2000. Volume 3. Ukrainian Silhouets. POW Secretary.--296 p., with photographs−P. 6-7, 170-186, 205-206, 222-224, 231-232, etc.—according to the name index.—V.O.)
Z.V.Popadiuk: You bet! I’ve got no idea about it. Something like that could be. A man does not know much. Step by step we began to socialize with Mykola Rudenko frequently. I felt on my own back his Economic Monologues. During long evenings… and you may remember that we had the rectangular orbit in the nineteenth camp. Mykola Rudenko and I took to orbit in one direction, and Kuzma Matviyuk went in another direction. We suggested, “Hey, join us!” He answered: “I was put into a different orbit”.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Matviyuk? Matviyuk was sentenced to four years; he was released as early as in 1976.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Maybe it was someone else. But Matviyuk maintained that he was put into a different orbit. Then Rudenko fell ill: he underwent a complicated surgery. He was taken to Ruzaevka or somewhere for surgical operation. He had acute prostatitis, in which case they perform a complicated operation; they even invited a surgeon from far away to operate him. After he returned, the security officers started scaring or taunting him; I do not know how to put it: they invented and told him all sorts of stories about his wife. I think that he felt it deeply and even grieved. I thought that he wouldn’t hold it in himself and he would try and utter his feelings. Once I tried, on the one hand, to isolate him as much as possible, so that he wouldn’t speak out; I didn’t like the idea that the security men would enjoy themselves with it! On the other hand, I thought I found the perfect key for that: I made it to sound a bit frivolous ridiculing the situation; after all they were of very different age, a gap of 19 years, or what…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: His wife was born in 1939 and he in 1920.
Z.V.Popadiuk: It seems that he even bore a grudge against me for a while, though did not spill a word about it. But I also think that I helped him at that moment. My evading the problem as such convinced him even more than the lessons of all old timers. I think that he eventually was thankful that such an urchin as I dared to say something to grandfather. But it seems finally everything was fine with him.
Many of these people went down big with the people. I will not reiterate about my meetings with Vasyl Stus, because so much was told and written that today, after a considerable interval of time, feeling the greatness of Vasyl Stus, not everyone would dare to talk about her /his familiarity with him.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: They might even consider you a person who jumps on the winner’s bandwagon showing yourself a bosom friend of Stus.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Not as a time-server but as a person who intends to bathe in reflected glory. You may feel warm in any case. I remember that the first sculpture of Vasyl Stus was made by me and Liubomyr Starosolsky during his lifetime. They brought Stus to a medium security barrack, cell-like room, in the 19th camp and led him over the territory carried through to the bathhouse. Either every ten days or once a week. Everything was covered with a new-fallen snow. And while they led Stus to take a bath, Liubko and I made a big snow bust of Vasyl Stus. I do not know if he noticed it, if he saw it, because all of us were driven away from that road when they convoyed punishment cell inmates. But it stood when he was passing it. And after that it stood as well.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It well might be the first bust… But Borys Dovhal in 1969 made a sculpture portrait of Stus. Interestingly, he exhibited it under the title “Head of a Man”. At the time Tamara Hlavak was the Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Komsomol of Ukraine and she recognized Vasyl Stus and ordered to take it away.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Interesting. Hence, the secretaries were not undereducated.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, anybody recognized your sculpture?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not know how it was afterwards, but then everybody in the know was up to a trick or two. They even prompted us in the process. Later we stayed with Stus in the same cell-like room together for some time. Maybe for four or six weeks.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I remember that when you were released you memorized several of his poems to preserve them for further generations. Then I heard poems of Stus for the first time. Out of prison I came across something. But you brought into the zone the cycle “Chernyshevsky in Saratov”. “Centennial of the Demise of Sich”… You brought them into the zone and then I rewrote them for my own use.
Z.V.Popadiuk: This has escaped my memory. But the poem dedicated to Mykola Zerov has been engraved on my memory “Wheels tapped like waves against the ferry, Hi, Comrade Charon” and so on. And there were also theses lyrics set to music: “Slavuta’s cliffs are rippling”. I did memorize a lot: I had a good memory was bad, and now I’m not really complaining about it.
At the time he worked on his translations from German: most probably it was Rilke. Firstly, the jailers didn’t care about it, and everything went on swimmingly. It was snowing, I remember, and we were walking in the exercise yards. It was on May 20, 1975, the yard was covered with deep snow. I’ve just remembered it: a first they locked me up in the in punishment cell. I was in the punishment cell and Stus was in the ward. He even threw me lollipops through the peephole. And then they released me from the cooler, I spent a few days in the zone, and then put me into the ward, where Stus was kept.
Everything else that linked me to Stus was connected with our correspondence. Several times he wrote to my mother.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: That’s right; and some of his letters to your mom have been published. (See: V. Stus. Works in 6 volumes, 9 books. Vol.6, book 2.--Lviv: Prosvita Publishers, 1997.--P.115-117.--V.O.).
Z.V.Popadiuk: That letter contained a card for me; my mother mailed it to me. Since then we never contacted again. When I arrived to the Kolyma camp, I felt badly the fact that he’d just recently had left this camp: about a month or a little bit more.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Somewhere in his letter to me he prophetically wrote about you: “He may take my warm place”. And so it happened. (See: V. Stus. Works in 6 volumes, 9 books. Vol.6, book 2.--Lviv: Prosvita Publishers, 1997.--P. 175.--V.O.).
Z.V.Popadiuk: Thus it happened, I remember the letter. People somehow felt that I went into exile where Stus was, to the Village of Matrosov. And there I found postcards from the Kalynetses which had been waiting for me for a couple of weeks. They read: “I am writing on the off-chance, but I reckon you’ll be there”. It took me a long time to get there: from March 28 to June 1.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: But Stus left that place on 11 August 1979. Anyway, the place was furnished, the staff was ready… It often happened that exiler was brought to the place already warmed by someone. You were later transferred to Kazakhstan where Valery Marchenko had been?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I replaced Marchenko and then Myroska Marynovych came after I went away. So Myroslav had to be satisfied, because I made the place habitable for him in the best possible way. (Born on 04.01.1949, founding member of UGG, arrested on 23.04.1977; sentenced to seven years of imprisonment and five years of exile under art. 62 p 1, did his term in the Perm camps and in Kazakhstan.--V.O.).
Among non-Ukrainians whom I remember very well and with whom I made friends was well-known in Lithuania and probably not only in Lithuania but also elsewhere across the area of FSU Socialist concentration camps Petras Paulaitis. For the first time I met him in the 17th camp. Then I was ill and arrived there in spring 1975. In the fall, I left the camp for Vladimir. There, in the 17th, was Dmytro Kvetsko and many of our mutual friends, I am not about making a list of all my acquaintances here. And the greatest figure--in the literal sense, because he was a tall man—and Patriarch of the zone was actually Paulaitis, Petras Kazimirovich.
One can be forthcoming about this man, because, in the first place, he knew a lot and was an unordinary storyteller, although his Russian was not quite perfect. This man spent two years in the Gestapo, escaped from there, and then almost 37 years--at that time—was kept in the Soviet camps.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was given 25 years, and after 9 or 10 years he was released for a little while, and again they gave him 25 years.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, sure. In the seventeenth zone he worked in the canteen. There were cauldrons, he boiled water and laundry was nearby: it was one room.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He worked in the kitchen as a dishwasher. Maybe he ladled out gruel for a while…
Z.V.Popadiuk: No, he never ladled out gruel and did not dispense food; from time to time he washed dishes, but as a relief washer only. We had no canteen at the seventeenth zone: they delivered food from the zone for criminals. He occasionally washed dishes. I remember he said that they called him out to wash dishes. Usually he went about laundering.
Paulaitis was among several prominent persons of Lithuanian underground (although how long he could be in hiding, if he was kept in jail all the time?). He was the Lithuanian ambassador to Italy and Portugal…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And to Spain, to three countries. He told me that he met with Mussolini, Franco, and Salazar.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was a respectful person and a plain man at the same time. He could communicate on an equal footing with the children: when some of our elders felt their weight and made it clear (or did not want that, but it just came out of itself), Paulaitis was such a man that he behaved naturally enough with everyone: both with a boy and older person feeling their equal. He was an urbane man. Just imagine: I was hewing firewood there doing it in a slipshod manner, I dragged logs over the snow because not knowing how much, pull those logs in the snow, because that was the way of doing it; all of a sudden he emerged from the laundry barehanded, and with his steaming hands the old man came to the aid. It was very touching…
He was professor of theology, he was deeply religious man. I always distinguished myself not by atheism proper (some of our people considered me as a very big Christian), but by free thinking, like a boy who wishes to have a lot on his plate. Ye had his wits about everything, and with him you could… I was looking for my own philosophy and finally found it. You could discuss everything with him: he was open to any discussion; he didn’t adhere to principles for principle’s sake. On the outside he had no opinions: they were somewhere deep in his soul, and if they became apparent, they were already adapted to his company, on the one hand, that his interlocutor understood him and, on the other hand, felt no inconvenience from that he might have some other views. He was a man after your own heart.
In fact, he impressed on me… When they brought me to Vladimir, where I spent three years, I came across a book there−for some reason it was in the prison library−Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denysovich," though in Lithuanian. Probably because of it the book was on the shelf for no one knew what it was. And we had the “Books by Mail” there and I ordered the language textbook and the dictionary and read that book. And when I came into the zone and met Paulaitis again in the 19th zone−because he had already been there−I eagerly began to speak Lithuanian for no reason, no reason at all. And in all Lithuanian companies since I felt good because I spoke, though with an accent, and understood everything and everybody understood me.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: But wait! So in Vladimir you met no Lithuanians to converse with? Did you have only a book?
Z.V.Popadiuk: There were no Lithuanians in Vladimir. Over there I rubbed shoulders with a very small circle of people.
As we’ve started talking about the non-Ukrainians, I with great reverence treated Kronid Arkadiyevich Lyubarski. I thought, principally he was a democrat. Usually with the Russian democrats−to say nothing of other nationalities−it was impossible to discuss all topics, for example, Ukrainian theme was very painful always and everywhere, by the views of Lyubarsky were mostly such…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, he showed sympathetic understanding of our problems. For even Alexander Bolonkin showed something like great power attitude.
Z.V.Popadiuk: But Bolonkin was a spontaneous adherent of the great power attitude. He did not realize that. Maybe he was a good mathematician and a good man in his life, but when came Razmik Markosian, who already had higher philological education and worked as a teacher, and had a lot to deal with mathematics at work, and Bolonkin ran to become acquainted with him, and then returned deeply disappointed: "He’s a kind of mentally retarded.”−“Why?”−“He cannot speak Russian.” We hardly convinced him that in Armenia, where 97% of population are Armenians, it is impossible to know Russian, except if you are especially concerned with it. And then he began hardly understanding that everybody has the right to freedom.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He admitted, but when it came to the specific case, he could not understand that the man belonged to another culture. I had the same squabble with Yuri Fedorov. Fedorov was a participant in the aircraft highjackers affair; I was with him in the same cell in Kutchino. He was speaking about one of Russian writers, and he was surprised that I did not know him. I told him, “Mr. Yuri, I belong to a different culture, in which I know who’s who and Russian culture is an alien culture for me.”
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, there was a kind of barrier. But Lyubarski understood all those moments and was very close to us, saying: "Yes, I recognize your right and I’m ready to defend your right”. When, for example, well-known Vladimir Bukovsky, which was exchanged for Corvalán (he was released from Vladimir prison just when I was there; we bid farewell to one another; he had no idea where they would take him) he said this: “No, we won’t tackle your problems for you.”
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Afterwards Liubarski confirmed his position with all his life, because when he published his “News from the USSR” he furnished objective news only, as far as it was possible. In 1973-74 he was in Mordovia camp no. 19, and after the trial he was sent to Vladimir. I remember the weather was warm and we delivered with a big wheelbarrow his wooden trunks and sacks with books to the shift as far as at the time they allowed to take a considerable luggage with you. Then it was still allowed to carry a lot, and later they ordered that the prisoner was entitled to only 50 kg of personal things.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes. He was a consistent democrat as I called him. Certain radicalism or our national limitations didn’t make him shudder, because such facts were known as well. And it jarred on the nerves of some Russian democrats.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did you ever meet Kronid again?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Many years later I met Kronid Liubarski in Munich. He corresponded with my mother; my mother visited him in Kaluga after he was released. He was very friendly to me: I saw his notes.
One should keep in mind that they came to the camps when they were grown-ups, so to speak, conscious men, and we were teenagers still. Why it was so easy to communicate with people for me? Because the verdict was “my passport”. People read my sentence, responded to it in a peculiar way and accepted me into their circle without my efforts.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I noticed that the elderly, especially in those conditions, always were very friendly to younger prisoners. They just loved young people, because they remembered themselves at that age. And even the longing for parenthood… and it was perfectly natural. Maybe it was a kind of exaggeration, advance for the future; I myself also felt it. But the words written by Mykhailo Heifetz about Zorian Popadiuk that at the mention of Zorian he felt ecstatic raptures might as well be repeated by all who were enthusiastic about Zorian.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I know. I myself was terribly fascinated by those old man: Dmytro Syniak, Roman Semeniuk, and Mykola Konchakivskiy, there were many of them; I always wondered how Syniak knew everything. I collected many pocket-size books of poetry of the 60’s and early 70’s because I was keen on it, I studied philology, I took interest in it… but how on earth did he know everything? I was carried away by it. At home I heard many stories about rebels, but to look the live active participants in the face is another kettle of fish. And yet, they were not callous and obtuse persons; on the contrary, they were more democrats than our half-baked Ukrainian democrats. Because, between you and me, Anatoly Zdorovyi, Igor Kravtsiv or even some dissidents… they were but diehard nationalists. These persons were broad-minded and in the groove.
The next person that I remember was Liudas Simutis, a somewhat mysterious person. I felt affection to his: I heard his story from Paulaitis. He was also a type of underground worker, on the one hand, and a leader, on the other hand, probably a Komsomol leader.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Really? I do not know, but he was probably one of the youngest prisoners, who belonged to the age group of about 25 years of age. He was young at the time.
Z.V.Popadiuk: He was engaged in clandestine activity; yet at the same time he headed some state, Komsomol, or some other structures; as they say, he infiltrated into these organizations. They also told stories about humiliation of him and his parents: I was under great impression… At the same time, he was a very gentle person in personal contacts and very attentive at that. Such things are also remembered.
Next person was a Ukrainian, but a citizen of England: Mykola Budulak-Sharygin. He was also an interesting man.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It seems in 1969 he was imprisoned for 10 years.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, he did the ten-year term. They accused him of spying. In fact, he was well schooled in almost all European languages who knew languages: Hungarian, Polish, Romanian; he knew all these languages .
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Not to mention the German, English, and French.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yeah, I ’m not talking about it. And he knew Ukrainian and Russian as well. His life story is very interesting, too. His adopted daughter, by the way… Do you know that story, or don’t you?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: No, I don’t.
Z.V.Popadiuk: His adopted daughter−Anna, it seems−as a matter of fact, she was the granddaughter of renowned All-Russian Headman Kalinin, whose mother was a Soviet spy. Her mother worked somewhere in Germany during the WWII and gave birth to a daughter of a German general. And Mykola was a teenager at the time: I think, he was 14 or 15…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was 15 when the Germans took him from Vinnitsa to Germany to work. Then he went to England. He was graduated from Cambridge and worked for an industrial firm; he traveled throughout Europe and concluded contracts, and when he as a member of a delegation arrived in Moscow he was apprehended and accused of spying. It was a response to the fact that just then 200 workers of Soviet institutions were expelled from Britain on charges of espionage. And they wreaked their vexation on Mykola. They failed to prove guilt^ the court withdrew for advisement and did not return. Only three years later they he announced the sentence: ten years for… evading conscription! And he was coerced to go to Germany as a 15-year boy! He had no luck because he failed to obtain British citizenship because it was a complicated procedure. “It’s OK,” they told him. “The Queen does not consider your case a casus belli.”
Z.V.Popadiuk: Their ways intersected somewhere in Germany. The general was killed in action and the mother did not want to return with her daughter: the daughter remained with the people where Mykola stayed. And when Mykola went to England−I do not remember how it happened there−he took nobody’s child, so to speak, with him. In Britain the family of the Sharygins, old Russian immigrants, gave refuge to Mykola and the girl, it seems that her name was Anna. She grew up, finished school, and then her mother reappeared and took all sorts of steps to ensure that her daughter would go back to her. I do not know where she lived at that time: in Pskov, or in Smolensk. And the daughter went here, and then ran away as far as I know it.
But I’m telling you about him not just because of this story. In this cell there were Oles Serhiyenko, Mykola Sharygin, Yasha Suslensky. Yasha produced the greatest impression on me because he just took me under his patronage. He developed feeling of support of younger people. When they brought me to Vladimir I suffered from heart disease. But once I arrived in Vladimir I met Garik Supenfin or Gabriel and Andriy Turyk. They both were in one cell. Then there also stayed for a while Mykola Bondar from Cherkasy, if I am not mistaken. All those people also showed attention to me. However, I was then very ill and I apparently had to be taken care of. Turyk died; his fate was very interesting too. Volyn, young boy: they trapped him when he wanted to go to the UIA. At a huge stretch they entered into his file that he had relationships with the OUN/ UIA bands”. He was taken to Eastern Ukraine. There he started doing underground work: some kind of leaflets. Then he was given 25 years: they sentenced him in the last months, when they passed 25-year sentences, it happened in 1957. He is already dead.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: According to Levko Lukyanenko, it was no accident. He participated in the protests of younger generation and he was taken to the hospital. He had no deadly disease, but he died.
Z.V.Popadiuk: It was said that when his Vladimir term ended, he went to a zone somewhere where he slept or lied on the grass, his kidneys caught a chill, he was taken to the hospital, and then he died in hospital. And someone of the inmates of the prison camp told me that he kind of had cancer.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Levko Lukyanenko said that he was killed just for participating in protests and always mentions him among those who died in concentration camps together with the names of Stus, Lytvyn, Tykhyi, Marchenko…
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, in fact all who were put to death or died in the camps are victims… Such was the fate of Turyk. He helped me a lot.
Garik Superfin was a special case. We became friends with him; we maintained a common approach to everything. However, I exerted pressure on him and rubbed Ukrainian and Jewish ideas because he was a diehard rebaptized Russian, though a Jew by birth. He remained baptized, however, though at least it seems to me, that in the long run I convinced him that one could be Russian, a Russian citizen, remembering that you were a Jew by birth. He said, “I do not forget.” But he was not ready to take up the Jewish national position and go to Israel. He is now in Germany, and yet he is a Russian immigrant. He is a philologist, so we had a wider base for debate. For a long time our discussions around the problems of the origin of Rus, around Old Rus written monuments because for him belonged to the tradition… He was formerly Secretary of Solzhenitsyn, together with Tatiana Velikanova he was among publishers of “The Chronicle of Current Events”. That is he was an educated Russian democrat with taken-in Russian national spirit. I think I managed to make him a non-Russian democrat, simply a democrat. So I give myself the credit for it.
He came to the realization of Ukrainian problems, because earlier for him the origins of Ukraine were dated by the 17th century, when Khmelnytsky appeared, and the rest was in line with Russian history. That is he managed to separate the notions of Russian and Rus only thanks to my very serious effort. He now works at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Bremen, and this is his unshakeable belief. He is a man with a capital letter, talented, with a great memory.
Once again, we must return to our rebels, Ukrainians.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What else about the rebels will you tell us? General and individual characteristics.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I said that among the vast majority of the people I met I never came across what I expected: I never met a national orthodox. They were men of broad views, usually democrats. They communicated mostly with dissidents. They clearly stressed they were not dissidents but participants in the struggle for liberation. They were parents, guardians, caregivers, and helpers of all those who came to the camps. You know how it was. Dmytro Syniak was the first one I came across. O God, wasn’t he an educated man! He was once the referent of the UIA.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was one of the last caught. He was seized in 1956 and gave him the death penalty, and then replaced it by 20 years of penal servitude. Before he reached the hard labor zone, it had been shut down, and he just did 20 years in prison. He told that when he was under the death penalty he had a dream: he stood on a piece of land that kept breaking down. And at the last moment he noticed a hand. He looked and saw Voroshilov! And at the time Voroshilov was the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Thus, it was he who replaced the death penalty. I learned a lot from him too while going behind the boilers in the boiler room. It turned out that his column of route marched through the forest near my village… Sometime in 1976, Syniak was set free.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I do not know: I was not there at the time. Liubomyr Starosolskyi went to see him in the Zahvizdia Village, Nadvirna Region.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Can you just guess where I met him? In 1990 there was an All-Ukrainian action the “Chain of Unity”; I was responsible for this Chain in Zhytomyr; he came with his friends from Halychyna, and I met him at the Spartak Stadium. O God, how he cried! He piped his eye and said: “Just look and see how many people and our banners there are! We gave up our lives for it and now it takes place here at last!”
Z.V.Popadiuk: I wonder if he is still alive or not?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: No, no. He died around two years ago.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Ivan Myron, this sorcerer… Rosishky Village, near Yasynia, Rahiv Region. He is still alive. This man who spent in the underground not more than one day. In fact, he didn’t participate in the underground activity; just a young boy descended into the shelter and there he was immediately grasped. This man was like a mountain. He had an opinion of his own, his own views… He looked like a Penitent, but he did not consider himself a Penitent. But he had his own views and without preliminary permission, without any outward show, he stuck to the status of political prisoner. He never crossed his arms behind him, never stood up facing the boss, and at times he wasn’t talkative. He was well-read and studied English. He knew German, he remembered Hungarian since the time of the Hungarian occupation. I had an impression that he was always reading, always with a book.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He worked in the boiler room and it gave him some time.
Z.V.Popadiuk: He believed in God. He had a habit to go bareheaded. There happened bitter frost, but he had to pray for an hour or so, without a hat. He used to go behind the barracks, trod to and fro upon the snow clasping his hands. And somehow neither flu nor cold ever gripped him. When he was thrown into the punishment cell−I remember this episode, but I do not remember in which year it happened−and he believed that it was unfair and there was some reason…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: There existed a very simple reason. He sat in his barrack and surrounded himself with books: the books were on his knees him books, books were on adjacent benches, and several dictionaries. Once a chief entered the barrack, and he failed to stand up and salute him in the first place. He explained that, according to our tradition, the person entering khata has to be the first to great the household. You remember, what were the consequences of this? In the punishment cell, he was on dry hunger strike for five days. Then the situation almost repeated itself, but that was with Colonel Velmakin, chief security officer; he also failed to stand up and greet him. They gave him 10 days and 10 days he was on dry hunger strike. It was something phenomenal!
Z.V.Popadiuk: And, most interestingly, that after his hunger strike he returned with his belongings; I remember the moment: they gave him a kind of mattress in the punishment cell. He could scarcely move; the jailers said that when it was time to release him, he was very feeble, he took a mug of water−there was a water bucket in the guardroom−drank water, took his mattress under his arm. They wanted to help him to carry it. They told him to go to the hospital, but he took it all and returned to his barrack.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I remember his tongue swelled. Mykhailo Zhurakivsky brewed tea, pressed his tongue with a spoon and poured some tea; in this way he nursed him back to health.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Right. He was a strong man; he was a man of spirit and had a sound body too. By the way, the fate showed mercy to him. He returned home, married, has many children, four or three.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Once he arrived in Kyiv, maybe in 1991 or later, and visited us in the URP office. I talked with him and even recorded this conversation. I wanted to publish the text; I edited it, however the newspaper turned it down. I wish it was published. But I have the text somewhere.
Z.V.Popadiuk: The fate of Roman Semeniuk…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He also belonged to the youngest rebels. By the way, he was drafted and then arrested there.
Z.V.Popadiuk: He had an instability of temper; he was sort of wired. He was awaiting the death penalty, the capital punishment…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: They had grudge against him (I believe unfounded) in connection with his escape. Anton Oliynyk and he escaped; they got Anton talking, and “for further maintenance of action” they executed him by shooting. A Roman got three years for escape.
Z.V.Popadiuk: They gave Roman his due under the law. And in the case of Oliynik there was one more “shooting” article.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: But Roman Semeniuk was almost the only one among rebels who dared to participate in our dissident actions. And the matter did not rest there: they cast him into the punishment cell and then transferred him to the 17th zone, which was regarded as a penal one. So I stayed with him a bit in the 19th zone and then in the 17th. He was 28 years old. He also was a member of the URP and chairman of regional organization in Sokal. Somewhere around 1992 he was walking down the street in heavy rain and was hit by a car; the same car brought him to the hospital, but he died an hour later. I also met him in Kyiv at some congress at the Film Theater.
Z.V.Popadiuk: in Lviv I learned that yesterday Roman Semeniuk was buried. One such Pshevlotsky told me…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: There is also Mykola Konchakivskyy; perhaps, you know him the best, because you worked with him at the gang saw, he and you rolled logs there. He was broad as an ox and you were a tiny boy. He was from the Village of Rudky, Mykolayiv Region.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I remember him for he conducted his activities in neighboring part of the world. He knew General Chuprynka, knew legendary hero Makomatsky, together with him he participated in different actions. He was a good storyteller.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: By the way, when I on April 12, 1974 came to the 19th camp−even my belongings were at the guardhouse and I was walking near the guardhouse−he was the first to come up to me. He inquired who I was and wherefrom. And he put his hand on my shoulder−and he was a sturdy man… I told him that I’ll serve a four-year term and he told me: “Mr. Vasyl, I’ve been serving my term for twenty-sixth years now; I went to battle in nineteen thirty nine and I’ve been doing it until now.” So my four years shrank and immediately became negligibly small! “Take it easy, Mr. Vasyl, you’ll do it like anybody else!” He had three graves! He was “buried” as a Polish soldier and even carved an inscription on the gravestone. And then his relatives received two KIA notices. He went with the Security Service and told me about some operations against the Germans. He showed me his shot-through hand: he grabbed the SMG’s muzzle barehanded…
Z.V.Popadiuk: He maintained that three years was the best term: you still did not get out of the habit of feeling at large but already got to know what prison meant. It seems he died of pneumonia or something.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was released in the fall of 1978 and lived at large only a month. I received a letter from him, and then came the death notice. It was very disappointing: the man did twenty-eight years, he said, and expired in a month after his release.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I know that when he was taken ill, he ran a very high temperature. Maybe they failed to take proper care of his temperature shock which happens during pneumonia or something like that.
He’s a tutor by nature: he did not let the young guy lifting anything heavy and did it himself.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: There was also Mykhailo Zhurakivsky, Hutsul from Yasynia, 25 years old. The Bolsheviks actually drove him in the woods: he received Soviet Army call-up papers. Therefore he left his khata, his family and joined a guerrilla band. However, during recent years he restored his ties with his family and was very happy about it. His daughter Nastia came to visit him. He did his term from start to finish and was in good standing. This was a sample of Christian respectability. He told me that one day in camp Mykhailo Zelenchuk (it was his commander) warned him: “Look, Mykhailo, beware of becoming a whistle-blower.” And a bit later, said he, he saw Zelenchuk with SVP armband! At home he was illiterate and in captivity he learned the three R’s. He also played very well drymba8 mouth harp. Vasyl Stus asked him to play. “His drymba sounded so sweetly That even Lord cocked His ear.” You bet it’s about Zhurakivsky.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Priest Denys Lukashevych. For me he was interesting not so as individual, but the story of his sons did arouse my interest. He was first to tell me the version which was documented later.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: His son Ilariy and his friend Stakhura were accused on the grounds that they allegedly were well in with Galan and killed him with an ax. At the time Ilariy was 18 and his brother Myron was 15 or 16 and that one was shot too even though he had nothing to do with it. Their father was imprisoned for 25 years.
Z.V.Popadiuk: As far as I know, those boys were executors. They obtained an order from a Soviet agent who became a regional commander. That regional commander was either killed or arrested. He held the position of an agent for six weeks or so issuing all sorts of provocative orders.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Father, Denys Lukashevych, did not want to talk about it. He believed that his sons were not involved in this murder.
Z.V.Popadiuk: However executioners they were. Whom else could we remember?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: In the 17th zone you also knew Volodymyr Kaznovsky. Though, he was not an insurgent. Nevertheless, he was accused of collaboration with the Germans. Why?
Z.V.Popadiuk: During the German occupation he was a livestock supplier. Being illiterate he made a meteoric career. The Germans also forced him to take care of the so-called contingent. So he purveyed cattle for himself and had to go about that “appendage” as well.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He called himself a merchant.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes. He learned three R’s in captivity. Paulaitis used to visit him and wonder: he recited big fragments of Virgil in Latin. Such a guy. He had breast pang or angina pectoris and suffered a lot: he sat on the steps of the medical unit and kept moaning. He was an inveterate anti-Semite…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Mykhailo Heifetz, however, made him to begin to doubt. He was frank and honest with Heifetz. Heifetz somewhere quoted him: “I will never forget you.”−“Really?” And he never forgot him indeed. Heifetz wrote about him in his essay “Holy Old Man of Ukraine”, a very nice piece of writing.
Z.V.Popadiuk: He was such a guy. I will never forget an episode when Kvetsko or someone else… he wanted to drink and somebody went, drew some water from the barrel and brought it Kaznovsky to drink and he commented: “I hope it is not the water from the barrel, where Jews wet their beards?” (Laughs). And afterwards Kaznovsky used to call that man “one who brought me the Jewish water”.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Do you know that he feared that his name might be mentioned in our documents? Yet he gave such consent to Vasyl Stus; he trusted Vasyl and Vasyl gave information about him to the West. His name was mentioned somewhere, and his son turned up abroad and he began to seek release of his father demanding his early discharge as a confirmed invalid. And he was discharged as a confirmed invalid indeed somewhere in 1978; it was a rare case, but such cases did occur. His sister lived somewhere in Halychyna; her family name was Holovatska; I remembered her address and even wrote her a letter after my discharge. So, the old man was discharged. Later they told that he was released and had to go to his son abroad, but he allegedly expired while flying in the plane. So it was.
Z.V.Popadiuk: In the 17th zone I also met Misha Heifetz. I had the good fortune--he mentions about this in his small book Ukrainian Silhouettes--to always start arguing as I liked to sort everything out: how come a Jews here feels himself a Russian patriot? I have to be my patriot, he has to be his patriot. I plagued Misha Heifetz, and I think -- at least he writes so -- that I had converted him to Judaism! Such was my fate.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Continuation of the conversation with Zorian Popadiuk about the brightest personalities, whom he knew. January 30, 2000 at his home in Sambir.
Z.V.Popadiuk: It is worth saying a few words about Paruyr Ayrikian. Though I can speak warmly about Razmik Markosian and late Ishkhan Mkrtchian, I liked most Paruyr with his personal problem, on the one hand, with his openness to the world. His personal problem was that he was a sort of a national hero or a real hero (why are we afraid of such words?) of Armenia and had a girlfriend with whom he had been or hadn’t been married at the time, I do not remember, but who was a Jew. Most of the Armenians in the zone could hardly accept it. I remember him for his width of views, his openness to the world. Armenians are introverts, because their past is so great and grand that it is difficult to climb from the depths of history into contemporaneity. Let’s take a thick volume of the History of Armenia by Movses Khorenatsi: this book was written almost two thousand years ago9. In fact, it is incredible! Paruyr was above that. He might be primarily concerned with his own thoughts and feelings, but from the depths of his thoughts he could see the topical realities. Very bright personality and very talented.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I admired Paruyr as well. How cleverly he contrived the transfer of information, how he managed to expose agents! Do you remember how he saw through Kuziukin? Captain Vladimir Kuziukin. He served in Czechoslovakia and then in Bila Tserkva. He was condemned for the leaflets concerning the occupation of Czechoslovakia. He was very ill and very exhausted, and we could understand why he became a rat for the KGB. Then Paruyr spread a net for Kuziukin which fell into his toils, and then Kuziukin, when the contingent of the Camp 17 “A” was split and sent to various camps in summer 1976 and the camp itself was pulled down--I was not there at the time because they brought me to Kyiv--was transferred to the 19th zone, though they kept him outside the zone to be safe. For 2-3 days he was kept somewhere in the room for visits and then they released him.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I told then paraphrasing a famous saying that he “was a talent of many faces”.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Mykhailo Heifetz said about another Jew as follows: “His talent was directed every which way.” It is characteristic of Jews.
Z.V.Popadiuk: We did not say so at the time: he was a charismatic person. All Armenians felt it. He had lucky stars.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was a recognized leader, he was respected by all Armenians, and they believed that this was bound to happen.
Z.V.Popadiuk: As I recall, he taught me some Armenian songs. He wrote lyrics, set them to music, and they had a hymn “Մենք հայ ենք”—“We are Armenians”. In fact, he could fugle, act as a leader…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Sometime in December 1975, I was in a punishment cell: they brought me there from the 17th zone: they kept me in the 19th zone and he was kept in the cell-like room there. Once he began singing… God, it was a wonderful singing! Even the cops dropped dead.
Z.V.Popadiuk: I can but return to my first vivid impressions: Sasha Romanov.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, is of the same age as we, or maybe I. He was then 25 years old. He was born in 1949. Philologist, he studied at Saratov University.
Z.V.Popadiuk: He was a wonderful man, Russian Orthodox. He started with Marxism. After a breakdown… there was a terrible occurrence when he rushed to the barbed wire… I was in the cell-like room at the time and I heard.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: We then went out in the morning to look and see. The land was freshly snow-clad: it happened on May 20, 1975. It was snowing in the night and that very night something happened to him: he rushed out northward from his barrack; we saw footprints of his bare feet, very big strides. He tore at full speed to the barbed wire, but just at the time a watchman appeared in the no-go zone. He feared for himself or what but that officer shouted to the soldiers: “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, I know they were not shooting. He must have seen… that something went wrong. They brought Sasha to the cell-like room at night; I remember that they clung to him ask: “What’s wrong with you?” They tied up him there and then kept asking: “Well, can we untie you already?”
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Then we went to see him in the medical unit: Sasha was torn with the barbed wire and smeared with brilliant green. Then they said that it happened on the grounds of his faith. He did three shifts in the boiler room, he was seriously exhausted, skinny, could not eat anything because of frequent shift changes; he just lay and prayed, lay and prayed.
Z.V.Popadiuk: He a standing question: he delved into Russian history. By the way, the Ukrainians can also blame for such frustration. He was Russian in spirit, by nature, and everybody repeated him that Russians were not Russians indeed but Finno-Ugric people, Mongols and so on. And all of a sudden he came across such lines in the poetry of Blok: “Yes, we’re Scythes with slanting and rapacious eyes…” They said or even he himself told that after this poem he felt miserably. As result of such wretchedness he went to seed and migrated to the monarchists, from neo-Leninist or democratic ideas…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: From Marxism via democracy to monarchism.
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, but he was an example of how a man can be monarchist-minded while remaining the absolute democrat. And there was nothing chauvinistic in him, except for those views that he declared. We all loved him very much.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When he told about his crime-buddies−there were five or something of them−he used to put it like this: “My squealing crime-buddy…” Or: “My crime-buddy, who has become a squealer, of course.” But later he formulated the same as follows: “When I say “my crime-buddy” I mean a squealer.”
V.V.Ovsiyenko: The conversation continued at 11 am January 30 at Yaromyr Mykytko’s home, but the words of Mykytko were re-recorded to his cassette. Zorian Popadiuk goes on with his story.
Zorian, you promised to tell us about Ishkhan Mkrtchian, who was buried under number eight between Yuriy Lytvyn and Vasyl Stus in the Village of Borisov near Kutchino, Chusovskoi Region, Perm Oblast. As far as Lytvyn died on September 4, 1984, and Stus on September 4, 1985, Ishkhan Mkrtchian died somewhere within this interval.
Z.V.Popadiuk: What conclusion can I draw? He was a smart kid… he was a bit younger than me… or maybe somewhere about my age. However, he was shorter than I and had a youthful look: therefore he seemed younger. He took very skeptical view about everything, he was a skeptic by nature. On the other hand, he was a merry fellow and liked joking. He used to stand in the doorway inviting, “Come, come, come” and then comment finally: “Real comers they are”. He was always involved in all sorts of actions indiscriminately: the only condition was the war with the administration… For example, at times Stepan Khmara liked bluffing. He caught on the jailer with his elbow, the jailer became indignant, and Khmara made work that he’d been beaten by the jailer. Then punishment cells and hunger strikes followed; I knew Khmara’s ways and didn’t butt in, but Ishkhan swallowed the gudgeon and got involved. We even got into a heated argument about it, but he said that he was not interested in that and that, because the main thing for him was that one of them was a jailer and another one a prisoner, and had done with it.
He delved deeply into the history of Armenia, so that he even had kind of aversion to the rest of the world. He believed that the Armenian history deserved lifelong studies intended to master it, and all the rest is somebody else’s headache. He was a bit sentimental and a person of ready sympathy. If anyone felt out of sorts, he was instantly at hand irrespective of could help or could not, but he tried all the same.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: What term of imprisonment did he have? And how did he perish?
Z.V.Popadiuk: I reckon that he was not exiled; he had only the five-year term of imprisonment. It seems they kept him in the punishment cell on the eve of the Armenian genocide. It had to be on April 24 when they put him into the punishment cell, though I do not remember now for what reason. I also do not remember whether he was in a cell-like room or in the punishment cell. Probably it was in 1985. Yes, it was in spring of nineteen eighty-five that he committed suicide. In the medium security barrack. As far as I remember they hastily took away his body.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Could it happen precisely on the day of genocide on April 24?
Z.V.Popadiuk: Yes, but we had no idea about it. Later we started reconstructing events, when we came to know that he had died. And that was after a long time.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Usually we did not know the circumstances of each death, and then we tried to somehow restore events and more or less managed to do it.
Z.V.Popadiuk: And then we started recollecting that at times he had suicidal ideas.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When we took away the bodies of Lytvyn and Stus from Borisovo on November 17, 1989, the exhumation was carried out, the body of Ishkhan Mkrtchian was still there, but later the Armenians took it away as well. (It’s not right. David Alaverdian, in-law of Ashot Navasardian, told on October 4, 2000 at the Kutchino Museum that Armenians headed by Ashot Navasardian in February 1989, asking no one’s permission, came and took away the mortal remains of Ishan Mkrtchian and moved them to Armenia. And he showed video how they were digging during the snowstorm.--V.O.).
Z.V.Popadiuk: Someone told me how it was but I do not remember who it was. He then was somewhere in the North in the Armenian Human Rights Group… his family name has completely slipped from my mind. His name was also Razmik… He also, incidentally, belong to the broad-minded Armenians. Olexiy Smirnov may know; by the way, he greatly impressed me at the time. Apparently, he went further in his perception of Ukrainians and the right to self-determination than even Kronid Liubarski did. He is the grandson of the famous Veniamin Kosterin, who, along with Petro Hryhorenko, participated in actions in defense of the Crimean Tatars. It seems he was the first to tell me about the reburial of the body of Ishkhan. And then that Armenian came to us… At the time I was tied up and my thoughts jumbled up: religious conflicts, this, that and the other… I do not know, except maybe if he reminds it me himself.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: This was Zorian Popadiuk. Recorded by Vasyl Ovsiyenko, 27-28 and 30 January 2000 in Sambir at first in the house of Popadiuk, and then in the house of Yaromyr Mykytko.
1 The proper genre of this play is dramatic tale (translator’s note).
2 According to the family tradition, the House of Kopystiansky was founded in the Town of Kopystyn, present Khmelnitsky Oblast, in the 18th century. — Z.P.
3 My grandfather’s brother Ivan was also a teacher and school principal in the Village of Krynytsia in the Lemkivshchyna Area; he left good memories there as a highly educated man, who knew several languages, and a patriot. — Z.P.
4 Banderivets is Ukrainian for the “follower of Stepan Bandera” (translator’s note).
5 Now Aktobe (translator’s note).
6 In fact, according to the regulations of the time, the personnel had to inform the chief of the train crew (translator’s note).
7 Partocrat—communist party leader or head; adherents of communist party dictate (translator’s note).
8 Ukrainian folk instrument which looks like mouth harp (translator’s note).
9 In fact, the book is several centuries older: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Armenia_(Movses_Khorenatsi) (translator’s note).