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Dissident movement in Ukraine

HAYOVIY Hryhoriy Tytovych

14.11.2014 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko | Interview for KhHRG on 16.06.1999 (Edited by H.Hayovyi in May 2005)

V.O.: June 16, 1999; 23, Sahaidachny Street, Kyiv; we are talking with Mr. Hryhoriy Hayoviy. Recorder: Vasyl Ovsiyenko.

 Mr. Hryhoriy, I am now working for the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, though my office is here in Kyiv. We are working to compile the “International Dictionary of Dissidents”. We have already compiled 120 names for our Ukrainian part. The list was made in Kharkiv with my participation at the final stage. But after this we have undertaken to compile the Dictionary of Resistance in Ukraine. It will include several hundred names. Obviously, we will try to include everyone who was imprisoned on charges of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”, “slandering of the Soviet political and social system”, as well as those who were not imprisoned, but were involved in the resistance movement. We cover the post-Stalin period and up to the perestroika. That is, we are interested in what they call in the West as “dissent”. This term, understandably, is not entirely consistent with our reality, because, say, the believers and nationalists are not apostates from the dominant ideology; they have their own ideology. And the dissent was also different: it was political, religious, labor movement, movement for emigration from the USSR (Jews). But if such a term exists, let it, because it is hard to reword it.

We are interested in the following: personal biographical data, i.e. when a person was born, where s/he studied. Of course, a person should say about her/his parents, especially if they were involved in the resistance movement. The parents should be called by their names and the dates of their lifetime should be indicated. But the main info in this story should contain the facts of your opposition against the regime and repressions. I think that you are always ready to tell your biography. Especially since it is a part of the history of our nation. I tell everyone that history is, unfortunately, not always what did happen in reality, but what is recorded. So let’s record the truth, and let, at last, the truth become history.

H.H.: Well, it could be something that really was as well what was recorded, but if it is not recorded, then it seems not to exist.

I, Hryhoriy Tytovych Hayovyi, was born on February 4, 1937 in the Village of Stepanivtsi, Mensk Region, Chernihiv Oblast, more precisely, in a hamlet near the village, which is called Hai. Half of the families in our hamlet were Hayovys, and this half was divided into two halves: dark and red. They were not relatives. One branch was red, and another dark-haired. Well, I belong to the dark-haired Hayovyis. But it is for the fun of the thing.

My father, Tyt Hnatovych Hayovyi, was one of two men in the village, which before the revolution were drafted for the naval service. He served in the Black Sea Fleet. We know the “Death of the Squadron” by Korniychuk, and he served in this squadron in 1917 on the ship “Zlatoust”. He was a Ukrainian revolutionary sailor of this Ukrainian squadron that was sunk by allegedly secret orders of Lenin, according to Korniychuk. I have only one photo of my father which he sent to his ex-girlfriend. There is inscription reading “October 25, 1917”; such was the concourse of circumstances. My father was in sailor’s cap and in sailor’s form. When the sailors were permitted to go ashore, he arrived at home; he was a member of the Committee of Poor Peasants or some sort of local government, although he was never a member of any party. Simply he was coopted as a revolutionary sailor. By the timely standards he was literate and enjoyed a certain prestige among villagers. Our family descended from Kozaks, not peasants. My parental grandfather was a relatively wealthy person and had a water-mill. But somewhere the money was squandered and my father was considered an impoverished Kozak. As they said: according to the table of ranks.

When the civil war broke out, my father’s brother Matviy was drafted by the chiefs of Shchors military units. At the same time my father stood aback from the white and red, from all of them. He did not go to fight for someone, but he also dawdled very long to join a collective farm, until he took away all pokers from his khata. And then he had to join, for there was no alternative. The collective farmers elected him chairman of the audit committee: he was an honest man who could keep track of all frauds on the board. He performed his duties conscientiously, and probably not everyone was pleased with such performance. This was on one side and on the other he was sharp-tongued and had the imprudence to speak at an election meeting saying he wouldn’t vote for the one whom he did not know and who was a complete outsider. But at the time there were two candidates: nationwide candidate Joseph Stalin and the second one local candidate Kostiuchenko. Well, these words were squealed, and in 1938 my father was arrested, in 1939, he was sentenced under anti-Soviet article specifying four years of distant camps, and since then neither a word, nor a syllable was heard from him. He was off and away. They rehabilitated him 52 years after his conviction. Such is my short background.

My father was born in 1895, my mother in 1904, Hayova Mariya Sydorivna, maiden name Maniako. She lived in a neighboring Village of Voloskivets; I do not know for sure, but she came apparently from peasants. Before the revolution our locals were divided into the following strata: peasants, Kozaks and petty bourgeois, and in rural areas there was also a stratum of clergy.

V.O.: Is your mother still alive?

H.H.: No, my mother lived up to retirement and was given a pension of 12 karbovanetses. It happened in 1966, shortly before I left the camps. A year later she died. The sum of pension to the tune of 12 karbovanetses on the basis of average monthly earnings of 3 karbovanetses 40 kopecks as was stated in her pension card. So the retirement pension was four times bigger than her monthly earnings. I still keep that document.

Now about myself. Of course, my mother lived poorly with three kids and we were all castaways as the children of the enemy of the people. Tolerably I graduated from Stepanivtsi seven-year school with a certificate of merit. And then what? I had to go on with my education and I went to the Donbas, to Makiyivka, to my aunt, father’s sister Hanna Hnativna Andriyenko, and there I finished the ten-year secondary school. I was awarded a gold medal, because I wished to go to university, and for me it was obvious that without a medal I wouldn’t get there because of my biographic facts.

I joined the department of journalism of the Kyiv University in 1955. The dean at the time was Matviy Mykhailovych Shestopal, now a known social and political activist. It was he who took me in. I had a penchant for humor and wrote a humoresque at my entrance exams, which he liked, and I was taken in without exams. And no one asked me about my ill-fated biography of the son of the enemy of people. Of course, later they found out about all of it, and I was, like all the students of this “ideological” department, under observation. It was always felt, especially since I had never belonged to the supporters of that system. Because I knew it, so to speak, from within, always felt its pressure and tried to oppose it as far as possible. Of course, at the time the possibilities were limited, but still I aspired that as a future professional journalist I might do something and sometimes tell people the truth and people would see for themselves that we were oppressed. Such was my naive position. So much for the background of my dissident biography.

The second precondition, which actually gave rise to more intensive activities consisted in intervention of the Moscow army in Hungary in 1956. This Hungarian uproar then stirred many students. The movement of the so-called Sixtiers originated in 1956. However, I did not belong to the very first wave of this movement: I was expelled from the university in 1957, not in 1956. Borys Maryan, a little older university student, an ethnic Moldavian, was perhaps the first university dissident of the sixties, who walloped down in 1956. Rather, he was arrested in early January 1957. He spent in Mordovia camps five years.

V.O.: Was it the same Borys Maryan about whom you wrote a long article in the Literaturna Ukrayina Weekly?

H.H.: No, that very article in the “Literaturna Ukrayina” wrote Oleksa Musiyenko. I also wanted to write about Borys. I knew him very well; he exerted influence upon all of us, young students, because his program contained almost all democratic principles that are now officially professed. For example, I was especially fascinated by one place in his program which everybody quoted at the meetings. It read: it is necessary to remove from power the privileged caste of communists and to give an opportunity to develop trade union movement, youth movement and so on. These democratic demands he called the minimum program. For this program, which he gave some people to read, he was convicted.

V.O.: And they threw a book at him?

H.H.: No, it was not the maximum sentence, because at that time in the case of the first sentence the maximum term by this article made 7 years and they gave him only 5 years. And a year later I was expelled from the university.

V.O.: How were you sent down? What was the procedure?

H.H.: With me the procedure was not a regular one. After the second year I volunteered to do practical work at the school I’d finished, i.e. in Makiyivka. And then in 1957 there was this “anti-Party group of Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov and associated with them Shepilov” ​​(later they added, “and camp-follower Hayovyi”). During my practice they told me: Start writing and holding up to shame these turncoats!” And I said, “How can I hold them up to shame if they are all the same to me?”—“Do you know that it is a political matter, and for refusing to fulfill the assignment of the editorial board you can be made answerable?” I agreed to a compromise: well, I can fulfill the assignment of the editorial board. And I organized a material on this subject from the secretary of the party organization of the pipe plant. The matter was hushed up and everything seemed to be fine. But later they wrote a squeal against me to the Central Committee that, say, the University poorly educated its students because they refused to process the letters of workers who “held up to shame the apostates of the anti-party group.”

V.O.: Was it a factory newspaper?

H.H.: No, the “Makeyevskiy Rabochiy”, the official organ of the Makiyivka City Party Committee. I practised there. Moreover, after a month of practice I worked there for a month not for salary, but just for author’s emoluments. They issued an excellent reference for me. But when I as a third-year student asked for a dormitory (for two years I did not have a room there), they said, "What dormitory? We are about to exclude you from the university!”—“What for?”—“Well, what for? There is a proper squeal.”

I had no idea about it. They hinted that I allegedly praised Trotsky and shielded these anti-party apostates. In short, they invented an appropriate formulation: “anti-party group of Kaganovich, Molotov, Malenkov, associated with them Shepilov and camp-follower Hayovyi.” So it was rumored at the university. Earlier they rebuked me for calling Vissarion Belinsky a namby-pamby, hack and a man who had not learned to write but taught others, how to write, and even hauled off our Shevchenko. That is, a kind of demimonde gibberish with hints at Ukrainophobia of Belinsky. Today it is a commonplace, everyone knows it, and then we tried to find out ourselves, nobody prompted us. Moreover, if you yourself somewhere tried to find out then they began blaming you. Such a quest, to put it mildly, was not encouraged.

I spoke mockingly, for example, about Marx, about the political economy of socialism which was supposed to be only a servant of politics, and not a science and so on. I mocked the crowd of teachers of Marxism- Leninism and wrote epigrams about them. In short, I was engaged in a kind of political bullying, and therefore I was under surveillance. Unfortunately, I also wrote a diary. Nobody knew about it. Why do I say that no one knew? If anyone had read this my diary, I would have been immediately imprisoned, because those were free-hearted records. But since they gave me no room in a dormitory, I was carrying all my records in my student’s bag. I might sleep anywhere, and then I put my diary under my head. Attending lectures, I took it with me. So they could not send on purpose a squealer who could read my writings in my absence.

V.O.: Where did you live?

H.H.: As I said, anywhere. I even happened to sleep in the unclosed audience of the red building of the university[1], in the attic, and stowawayed in the dormitories when the senior students were away doing practice or otherwise vacated their rooms. Or the dormitory tenants could let you in and you both slept in one bed in a jack-like way[2]... It was all in the day’s work in the fifties, and many students got along with it. And in the third year we became like lifers in the army; we were a sort of old-timers and had the right to claim a room in the dormitory. So I did, and they palmed me off.

I was a zetetic guy and started inquiring: I wanted to have it out with them. Have a look at my reference! They said nothing perspicuous and told me to write an explanatory note. Well, I did put it down as it was in actual fact. It was the first and last explanatory note in my life, because, as I understand it now, it was nothing but self-incrimination… This system was well organized. In fact, I wrote an explanatory note and the same day the Rector issued an order: to expel for non-fulfillment of education program. Such was the order. I was outraged: it had nothing to do with the education program. I had not a single three in two years; I did my practical work excellently and had a positive reference. So I made an expose of it to the dean. Ivan Nychyporovych Slobodianiuk was the dean at the time. He told me: “Let this personal information file be. If we write that you were expelled from university for disgracing the dignity of the Soviet student, then you would never have a chance to come back. While with such wording you still can return to us.” I went to the rector. Then the rector was Academician Shwets[3] spelled without soft-sign ending in Ukrainian.

V.O.: Maxym Rylsky joked that the Ukrainian language has three exceptions to the rule of hard –ts ending: bats, pots and Shvets[4].

H.H.: And here is how I met Academician Shvets. I went to him expecting to meet a wise man: he was a PhD, Academician. I expected him to understand, if I tell him everything as it was in reality. Know what? He rose to his feet and broke into frenzy: “We used to fracture skulls of such jerks! You’re disloyal to the Central Committee! Out with you!” And I said, “Wait, maybe I’ve got to the wrong office? Maybe it’s a waiting room of the district militia officer? Are you really Academician Shvets?”—“Out with you! Scat!” Well, I never!

I decided to go to Makiyivka and find out at least who had snitched on me. I went Makiyivka, came to the Editor-in-Chief. He said, “Did I write a reference for you? I did. I wrote nothing else and leave me alone.” Maybe the executive secretary Borys Kofman was to blame? It was Borys Davydovych who forewarned me that there might be trouble. I turned to him. “No, I’ve no idea. Maybe Assistant E-in-C Narbut who is responsible for such things?” I went to Narbut, and he shrugged his shoulders: “In no circumstances, we didn’t consort with you! No way.” And he hinted that the thread of my story might lead to the city party committee where somebody laid information against me with the authorities. In the City Party Committee I learned that the ideological matters are the responsibility of the Third Secretary, a woman, her name was Zaporozhets. So I went straight to the reception. In fact, I hadn’t an appointment. I pushed my way through to her and said that I was Hayovyi. “Which one?”—“The same about whom you wrote your squeal.”—“What do you mean by squeal? It was nothing but a signal…” In this way I found the one who wrote that squeal trying to bully her. She explained that the squeal or signal “was received from Narbut and Kofman. Yeah, there was a buzz. No way: Young persons must be taught a lesson.” I retorted: “After the call, if it really existed, I was working here for two months more. Why didn’t you talk to me then if you wanted to teach me a lesson or reeducate?"—“You mean preaching morals here?” Well, I wanted to just breathe a word but she threatened to call a militiaman. I did not want to get in a hole for fifteen days and I made myself scarce realizing that nothing could be done. My Dean Slobodianiuk gave a right practical advice: I’d better go about a new references and again try and enter the university: “We will admit you if you file new references, and everything will be fine. Get down to work.”

I got fixed up in a job as a freelance correspondent for the Komsomolets Donbasa Daily. It was the Donetsk Oblast youth daily. I worked in Makiyivka and lived with my aunt, edited releases and everything was okay. I stayed there for 20-25days and earned a good reference. I came to Kyiv and asked Slobodianiuk to restore me as a student. He asked: “Have you brought the reference?”—“Yes I have.”—“Well done! Now we’ll make your matter open to public view and let students back you. The public excluded you and we’ll let it support you.” I left the dean’s office and ran across “the public” in the person of party boss Volodymyr Lazarevych Chorny, who was till recently an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and charge d’affaires ad interim in Latvia, and Olexandr Arkadiyovych Novak, a course praepostor, who is still working in the office of the Kyivska Pravda Daily. They said, “Howdy, Hryhoriy.”—“It’s okay. They said if the public backed me, then they would restore me.”—“It’s not a public thoroughfare here.” I went again to the dean. He seemed to be at a loss: “Well, that’s all. And I’ve told you the same about the faculty public. And yesterday, the moment you were out, in came to me two representatives of your own course and said that you were not ready yet: you failed to wake up to your misdemeanor and repent. Sorry, buddy, I am powerless against public opinion…”

Well, I thought they would draft me now as they did with everybody like me in 1956, except for those imprisoned. Then I would have to serve for three years: I’d better try and go to the Lviv University. Many of us, who were expelled from Kyiv University, succeeded to enter the Lviv University, where they were admitted. Especially since, according to the references, I was expelled for non-fulfillment of the educational plan. And if you failed to fulfill the plan it meant you didn’t do your practical work, and at Lviv University they had no practice after the second year of studies. I hoped it was an easy task.

I went to Lviv. I came to Lviv for the first time. I went to the dean, the Head of the Department of the Party and Soviet Press. It seemed they liked me: such was my feeling after the conversation. They said everything was fine and they could admit me despite such trifle as non-fulfilled practice plan. We haven’t yet carried out that course of practical work. But we have many students expelled from Kyiv educational institutions, and so they lay claims on us for doing this without their knowledge. Let your chiefs jot a short note that they are not against our admitting you to the university.

What could I undertake? I thanked them and out I went…

I decided to look for a job. I went to one newspaper, then another: no vacancies. Then I went to the oblast party committee thinking that might help me with employment problems. And they said there that in the town of Chervonohrad there was a vacancy at the factory newspaper. I had no idea where was this god-forsaken Chervonohrad. But at the time they began to exploit the Lviv-Volyn Coal Basin. And since I was sort of from Donbas I knew the ropes. I went to Chervonohrad. There really was a newspaper Budivnyk Chervonohrada headed by an E-in-C who never read the newspaper and did not sign it for printing, though his name was on the publisher’s imprint: a Rastorguyev. The deputy E-in-C was a second or third-year by-correspondence student of the Lviv University and had to go to the session. The executive secretary had to go on maternity leave. There was also copy editor Fedir Rubel, who got a job there after he had been ousted from Peremyshliany for booze-up and polygamy.

V.O.: A nice team!

H.H.: There were no personnel but all vacancies were filled. The only unoccupied vacancy was a secretary-typist. And so I took the post of the secretary-typist and together with Rubliov I edited the newspaper during eight months. During his drinking bouts I did the job all by myself. Moreover, we edited this newspaper in Chervonohrad and printed it in Belz; at the time Belz was the center of Zabuzhzhia Region, which was situated at the distance of twenty-kilometer drive on the opposite bank of Buh River. That was my first truly professional practice since the end of 1957 till the summer of 1958.

I returned to the Kyiv University. In the fall I was restored at the faculty, and in 1961 with a different course I graduated from the University. The KGB officer Volodymyr Andriyovych Ruban climbed the ladder and became a dean; he was the persecutor of everything Ukrainian and progressive, in short, an odious figure, though not exactly an average person. He also wanted to expel me from the university, because he maintained that I edited the “gangster newspaper”. He meant that in the dormitory I edited the four-wall newspaper. We named it ZHLUKTO: Zh stood for journalistic in Ukrainian, L for legal, U for universal, K for Kozak, T for creative, and O for organ. So, Ruban summoned me and said, “Are you editing a gangster newspaper once more?” I replied: “No, what do you mean by gangster? It’s nothing but creative experiments of your students.”—“Yes stop it tomorrow, because I do not want to expel you from the university again; the faculty may be in for trouble.” It was a gentleman-like agreement. I agreed, “Okay, I’ll stop it.” It happened on the eve of the New Year 1959/1960. At that time the secretary of the faculty party organization was now late Leonid Suyarko, a known…

V.O.: …atheist?

H.H.: No, it’s not him, his brother was an atheist, and this one was a journalist. He taught the history of the party press. The students’ crowd turned to Suyarko and we in eager rivalry offered: “Let’s issue a wall newspaper; we have all capabilities and talented guys…” He agreed, “Oh, this is a good idea.” And so, with the blessing of comrade Suyarko the next day the ZHLUKTO wall newspaper was replaced with a new newspaper called Parsuna. The latter had the same features because it was edited by the same guys, but in chime with the party leadership.

V.O.: And where was your dormitory?

H.H.: Then we lived on the Victims of Revolution Street, later Heroes of Revolution; it is on the Volodymyr’s Hill on the right bank of the Dnipro River.

In 1961, I graduated from the university and was assigned to a job in Luhansk, but I didn’t stay there too long. There I was arrested.

V.O.: Where did you work in Luhansk?

H.H.: In the youth newspaper. It was called Molodohvardiyets and later was renamed Moloda Hvardiya. It was published in Ukrainian. Immediately after my arrival, there emerged a conflict. You can say a political one. At the time Luhansk popped up with various initiatives. Well, say, you spit and jot it down, you do something good and joy it down, for example, you lead an old woman across the street and the write it down in the Book of Republican Communist Youth Deeds. Such were the initiatives. For these initiatives the Oblast Komsomol Committee rewarded the go-ahead people. And once the oblast committee of Komsomol lists the recipients of the awards, the oblast party committee must approve these awards. So I as the youngest among the editorial staff was sent with this list to the oblast party committee to obtain approval. I had simply to hand the second or any other party secretary this list. The time was set for 3 p.m. I came on the stroke of three; you  could see for yourself that I am very punctual: we’ve agreed to meet at ten then at ten we do meet; and then I was told to make it at 3 p.m. and on the stroke of 3 I came, I presented myself and said about the purpose of my visit. They told me to wait for five minutes. I counted off five minutes and exactly five minutes later I opened the door without asking thee lady who told me to wait for “five minutes”. I went to a comrade executive who cursed me like, “Ain’t you bulging in, silly sod?” I said: “Excuse me, actually, I don’t need you. They asked me to hand you this list at 3 p.m., and then I was asked to wait for five minutes. I came on the stroke of the hour and then waited for five minutes, so how long should I stick here?”—“Mind your words!” And he drove me out of the office in the most flagrant manner. Before I returned to the editorial office, they buzzed my E-in-C and demanded to send such messengers no more. In short, I failed to keep in the limits…

I corresponded with one my friend, Maksymenko, who was the secretary of the Komsomol organization in the trust, which brought out the newspaper in Chervonohrad. We lived in the same dorm and knew each other. He was from Sumy Oblast, just retired from the army, but he didn’t work long; he was arrested for domestic drunk brawl and did a six-month or a year term. After his release, we kept in touch.

And it so happened that one of the companions of Borys Maryan, Ivan Pashkov, after army discharge came to our second course where I was. As from the whole group he knew only me and I knew his friend Maryan very well, we couldn’t but make friends together. So Pashkov, Maksymenko and I decided to actively relax together somewhere in summer. We took our backpacks and started to wander “in the Great Rus”. We traveled across Donbas, Bilhorod area, Tambov, Kursk and up north to Moscow. We went a roundabout way and returned via Tula, Bryansk, and Chernihiv Oblast to Kyiv. I made travel notes (they, however, were lost later). Of course, we talked about various things, because we continued to communicate after graduation.

This voyage formed the basis for the KGB to determine the term of imprisonment for all three of us: Pashkov, Maksymenko and me. The case was, of course, quite transparent, because there was virtually no case at all: they decided that we had a kind of anti-Soviet organization, which we intended to use to build an extensive network of fighters against the current system. And in fact, what did they have at hand? They had a few of our letters and a few notes. And they also planted a squealer in the dormitory so he could read all my diaries when I was on business trips. At the time I also collected anecdotes: there were many political jokes about Khrushchev. All this literary trash was already in the local KGB, they knew all my friends, and to wrap it all they decided to pin on us a sort of “organization”. This “organization” did nothing. Basically, I supposed that they would imprison me, because everything indicated it, but I could not imagine that it might be done in such a stupid way. They brought all three of us together and cooked a case.

They carried out my arrest in the following way. I returned from a business trip to a region in the morning of March 20, 1962, went to work at nine o’clock, was summoned to the E-in-C, and there two officers in civilian clothes had been sitting already. They put me in the car and released me exactly five years and three hours later, that is, at 12 a.m. on March 20, 1967, at the station Potma in Mordovia. Such was the story of my, so to speak…

V.O.: Pre-imprisonment.

H.H.: Right you are: my pre-imprisonment.

V.O.: Now let’s talk about your imprisonment.

H.H.: My imprisonment followed.

How did they cook the case? I’m not a lawyer, but I knew well that they couldn’t convict you for your views. I understand that they were well informed about my views, but in order to determine a term, it was necessary that at least someone confirmed that I disseminated my views in any way. If they read my diary, it did not mean that I disseminated these ideas. Apart from them, nobody read my diaries. If anyone read this it was Hryhoriy Hubin, whom they planted as a squealer (kind of Red Army man transferred to the reserve) and no one else. I never said or agitated to overthrow the government. Of course, I said that the life was bad, but it was a diffused opinion. It does not mean campaigning against government. So they had nothing to father on me. The only thing they did achieve was swaying my friend Prokopenko to write a confession about the difference of our opinions. They bulldozed him with the threat that “you’re friends with Hayovyi hence you have the same views, and we can confine you, too.” So he sat down and wrote: “Hayovyi has such views, and I have such views. Our views are different.” For example, he believed (“he” that’s me) that all the shortcomings of our lives proceed from the shortcomings of the system, while he, Prokopenko, believed that the system was okay, but there were flaws that could be corrected. Such was the note he wrote. He was summoned as a witness; he then started getting out of a scrape and said that meant not a social system, but the system of faults. Anyway, he initiated a spectacular tightrope-walking. But the tightrope gave them no chance to cook my goose. I pleaded not guilty. Therefore they recognize me a malicious criminal and gave the high priority to factual hearing in my case. Both guys were given the total of five years while I alone was given five years. That is Ivan Pashkov was sentenced to three years, and Mykola Maksymenko to two years. Mykola immediately began to sing. To some extent he was their cater-cousin, no wonder he served in the army in the so-called special department. In addition, he had done a term in the past already, and he hoped that if he sold someone out, they would have mercy on him. In fact, this was the case.

They also duped Pashkov, or rather, he was hooked on. The fact was that the KGB officers were familiar with my diaries, and I mentioned Pashkov there several times, these remarks called attention to our conversations with him on philosophical and literary themes. But those were face-to-face discussions. He knew that no one but me knew about those conversations. As far as they knew it meant that Hayovyi had started to sing. Such was their standard primitive trick they used everywhere. After that I developed a kind of allergy or aversion to all kinds of records and mailing. Even twenty years after I correspond almost with no one, because I am haunted by the thought that an intruder may read my mail and use it against me.

Our trial took place in June; it seems on June 20, 1962. The correct date is in my discharge certificate. It was the closed judicial session of the Luhansk Oblast Court. The court did not take into account the facts for our advantage, and took into account the incriminating evidence only.

V.O.: I wonder what was the language of those hearings?

H.H.: Russian language. I turned down my lawyer. I demanded that the hearings be stenographed and they said no. I insisted on proceedings in open court, but it was a closed judicial session.

V.O.: Officially closed? Did the sentence specify it?

H.H.: I do not know whether officially or not, but in any case, no one was admitted to the courtroom except for the witnesses.

V.O.: Did they hand you the sentence?

H.H.: They gave me a copy of the sentence, but before I got to Mordovia I lost it somewhere. There were also searches. I’ll request the oblast court to issue a copy of the judgment.

V.O.: Where did you do your time?

H.H.: I did my term near the station of Ruzayivka in Mordovia: there is a Village of Sosnovka. It was the camp no. 7 and then we were transferred to camp no. 11 in Potma. I did my time in those Dubrovlag camps no. 7 and no. 11. I think I did it with dignity.

V.O.: Tell us, please, about the event and people you met there.

H.H.: I would not say that there were some very important actions. Maybe they took place later, with the advent of your generation which took vigorous massive actions. And there, for example, once a UIA soldier died and so the guys organized clock guard of honor, if it can be considered an action. Well, on the Christmas Eve we, Ukrainians, went Christmas caroling. There were a lot of people, but nobody blew the whistle on us. Or maybe the administration knew, but pretended as if nothing happened.

V.O.: What kind of people were there? Of course, there were people convicted of collaboration with the Germans, insurgents and anti-soviets. What was their proportion then?

H.H.: At first I will tell about the proportion by nationality. Around 60 percent were Ukrainians. There followed compact groups of Lithuanians, Estonians, and Latvians. There were Jews who were convicted of their social democratic beliefs, and in the camp they became staunch Zionists. The Ukrainians were mostly general democrats with anarchist bias, and in the camp they became national Democrats. You know, it was a typical phenomenon: all conscientious Ukrainians carried or tried to carry themselves with dignity, so as not to discredit themselves and the nation in the eyes of others. Although among the likes of us, of course, people used to behave differently. The Ukrainians were even among the members of the PLU or People’s Labor Union. They spoke Russian; sometimes it was difficult to reeducate them. For example, Kharchenko, from Kuban, small in stature, was very ardent. He joined this NTS and stuck to it until the end. Those who served in the German police, usually were policemen in the camp as well: they wore an arm-band, or, as we say, brassard, thereby demonstrating their open collaboration with punitive authorities.

V.O.: Yes, an armband “SVP”: “Council of internal order” or as we deciphered it the “Snitch makes merry”.

H.H.: We considered these armbands shameful and despised all those snitches. But there were also hidden copper’s narks, whom we tried to avoid, and some of them, but when all the secrets come out our countrymen start justifying themselves that they kind of tried to flirt with the administration, they say, and they gave a written undertaking to cooperate in order to facilitate their treatment, but not actually to collaborate. Each tried to extricate himself. Our people treated them differently.

V.O.: Did you meet any Ukrainian insurgents there?

H.H.: There were many Ukrainian insurgents. Of course, there were much more banderivetses[5] than melnykivetses[6]. The former usually prevailed, and the latter kept the low profile because the former were in the majority and behaved aggressively. We (I mean our generation, who was not involved in the insurgence, but participated in the Ukrainian revival) did not like it. We did not like these pre-camp and camp and current conflicts between the two wings of OUN. I told them about this each time and continue doing it openly.

V.O.: When I was in Mordovia in the 70s, it was actually a common milieu: the so-called Ukrainian anti-Soviets and insurgence only a handful of which remained. And what about your time?

H.H.: In our time it was also almost the same milieu, but the number of insurgents was still higher. The new entrants were mostly the Social Democrats. They included very dynamic guys from Kolomyya, Lviv group of Lukyanenko in 1961, then very young residents of Melitopol Volodymyr Savchenko, Valentyn Rynkovenko, Olexiy Vorobyov, Volodymyr Chernyshov, Borys Nadtoka and Yurko Pokrasenko and also Ivan Polozok from Sumy, Olexandr Martynenko and Ivan Rusyn from Kyiv…

V.O.: From Kolomyya… Was it the United Party of Liberation of Ukraine? And do you remember their last names?

H.H.: Sure: Bohdan Hermaniuk, Yarema Tkachuk, Myron Ploshchak, Ivan Strutynsky, Bohdan Tymkiv, Mykola Yurchyk, and Ivan Konevych. Our group of three people from Donbas. At first we were alone in various camps, and then Pashkov and I found ourselves in one camp, while Maksymenko left another camp. I did not see him there, and I do not support any relationship with him now because I reckon he behaved himself unworthy. The so-called group of lawyers of Lukyanenko included Ivan Kandyba, Stepan Virun and Yosyp Borovnytskyy… They behaved in different ways, but these followers of Lukyanenko didn’t belong to a consistent group; at least I noticed nothing of the sort. Mykhailo Mykhailovych Soroka had the greatest authority over the older and our generation. Another one was a colonel; he seems to be still alive...

V.O.: Maybe Shumuk?

H.H.: No, I knew well Danylo Shumuk, he was not a Colonel, but a stubborn guy from Volyn from the cohort of “eternal revolutionaries”, former member of the CPWU, fought with Lachy[7], Schwabs[8], Moskals[9], Jews and Khokhols[10]; all of them hauled him over the coals. He didn’t stay long with us, though, if I am not mistaken, he did the term longer than any other prisoners, consorted with nobody, always had his own opinion and kept a low profile. They all respected him as a decent man, but he had no unifying authority. Yeah, I’ve just remembered: Levkovych, either colonel or general of UIA. We always tried and traced how Levkovych was summoned for retrial. This was when the minimum term was reduced from 25 to 15 years, those who had already done over 15 or was approaching the end of her/his term had their terms reduced to the time already done in the camp. Levkovych was summoned every year and every year the same procedure repeated. The prosecutor asked him: “Is it true that you were awarded a Silver Cross?” And he answered, “Not silver but gold.”—“Well, you can go.” So he did all his 25 years to the very end. I was released, and he stayed there.

Pryshliak enjoyed authority. There were two namesakes. Somehow Yevhen Pryszlak was not respected. But Hryhoriy Vasyliovych Pryshliak had moustache and was self-confident, sure of his rightfulness, typical Kozak with wily shrewd glance from under thick eyebrows; everybody loved and respected him. By the way, he is still alive. I have even interviewed him recently; I can give it to you.

V.O.: Thanks, I will copy it.

H.H.: There was one more group from Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky: they were Social Democrats. A bit comic group included mostly Moldovans. There were two Ukrainian: their chiefs Mykola Dragosh and Mykola Tarnavskyi. The latter were Ukrainians, and the rest were Moldovans from Chișinău music school. They established a printing office in Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky. Dragosh was a teacher or school principal of the working youth and his friend Mykola Tarnavskyi worked in the printing office. There he stole types and afterwards they illegally printed leaflets and to confuse the KGB authorities they decided to send these leaflets to all official authorities: editorial offices, Soviet and party organs doing it very inventively, i.e. from Leningrad they sent them to Kyiv, from Tashkent they sent them to Leningrad. This was done to show that it was a large organization and the KGB officers found it difficult to seize the organizers. These leaflets maintained that, say, Marx, of course, was wrong, and you, dear Marxists, interpret him mistakenly. I simplify it to make the long story short.

So, they printed a leaflet and gave Mykola Kucherianu, the first or second year student from Moldova, money for the trip to Leningrad to send the print run to Saratov, Bryansk, or wherever else. But this young Moldovan dodged: why squander the money on a trip when he could afford to buy a suit, relax in the countryside with his father, paste up leaflets there and thus fulfill the revolutionary task. And so he did. The moment he departed they found the leaflet. They arrested this Kucherianu and he at once admitted where, what and where to, who gave him those 20 or 30 karbovanetses for the trip, and the whole group was apprehended and convicted. Dragosh told me that he hoped to be shot and got ready for it. It was a revision of Marx, entirety of Marxism, plus such an extensive underground organization! At first Kucherianu was a witness in the case because he helped to uncover the organization. And here they began reading the verdict: Dragosh seven years, Mykola Tarnavskyi seven, the rest got six and six and a half years. And then Kucherianu was taken into custody and they gave him five and a half years! At the sight of it Dragosh laughed in the courtroom. The judges thought he went crazy. He laughed because they passed a sentence on Kucherianu, who split up and hoped to be rewarded for his betrayal. And everyone, it seemed, thought that Dragosh was given a short term.

And altogether, in the zone, as for me, there were many such funny instances that could be well reworked into a fiction. Many facts have been effaced from the memory. I should have done it at the proper time…

V.O.: You could try it once again.

H.H.: I had no time to write them down; otherwise they could apprehend me anew for it was a period of total surveillance.

V.O.: It is high time to write now! Still, who knows how it will be after the elections, they might begin a new series of arrests.

H.H.: I think they may start if not with us, then with others.

V.O.: Yes, but presently we’re zeroing in on another topic. I make inquiries about the younger generation in the camps, for example, Lukyanenko, Tykhyi, and Lytvyn.

H.H.: Lukyanenko enjoyed prestige and behaved properly. Tykhyi was there, but I didn’t make acquaintance with him, unfortunately. And with Yuri Lytvyn we were friends a long time, even after we were released. In particular, he became friends with Ivan Pashkov.

V.O.: Pashkov tells about a literary coterie in the camp; they allegedly published a handwritten magazine there.

H.H.: in my opinion, it looks like window dressing. Of course, there were many poets. Four or five people used to come together to drink coffee or chifir[11]: Sinyavskiy, Daniel, Lytvyn, Pashkov, and Tarnavskyi. And Daniel said, “Here we are, the elite of Russian society…” In fact, there was not a single Russian! Even Albert Novikov was a Ukrainian half-Jew from Zhytomyr, who wrote “Russian verses”: “I expect nothing new from Kronos and maintain a different lore, I profess otherworldness and legal Hiroshima once more.” So he wrote. And I wrote a parody of it, “I’d like to conk Kronos on the nose! Who am I with a red-beard muzzle; this guy with muzzle does all and watches Somov, Siomov, Simov, while Hiroshima blotches my life, which is an unruly strife, and Kronos is a schtick, Kronos is a prick…” and so on. Such were our literary exercises. Of course, they may be treated as a kind of literary trend, or burlesque… it depends. I had my part in it as a satirist, humorist, and that was my reaction.

V.O.: You are an author; you always invent something in your mind. Did you manage to take anything out? Or pieces engraved on your memory only?

H.H.: We called it not the inside-the-bootleg books, but inside-the-pea-jacket books. I managed to take out my novel The Plucked Flowers. I wrote it there and completed at large and I published it many years later in the Kyiv Magazine, about three years ago.

V.O.: Were these years in the zone lean? What work did you carry out and what were the regulations?

H.H.: I would not say that we were hungry. And I am undemanding person concerning my food. As to the regulations… I had nothing to compare with: I did not know other regulations. Anyway, we could go to any barrack we liked; only once I spent ten days in a punishment cell. They sought to punish me many times, but I gave no cause for it. Once, the Estonian KGB officers and the “representatives of the public” came there to show their achievements. They mustered prisoners in the largest barrack. The Estonians came first, but the crowd of people of other nationalities also wanted to go in there. Suddenly the incident occurred: the Estonian cons presented to the guests, their countryman, and a bouquet of barbed wire. Here, of course, started the trouble, commotion, and I wanted to push my way forward from the back rows. The officers blocked the way, and I cried out: “Look at that pack of guests!” And then Captain Sergushin ordered: “Come up here! What did you say?”—“And what did I say?”—“You called us names.”—“What names?”—“You called us a pack.”—“Well, the pack is nothing but an exclusive circle of people!” And so the discussion was triggered: what does a pack mean—a group of animals or a circle of people. Someone else said I used obscenities, though I never used obscenities. In short, they put me in the punishment cell for 10 days. Such was my part in these protests.

(H.Hayovyi. June 29, 1999. I’d like to make a few amendments to this transcription. Firstly, it is necessary to clarify my answer to the question of how it was in Mordovia labor camps and how they fed us. Of course, I a little exaggerated saying that everything was fine and everything was nice. Obviously, the concentration camp is certainly not a resort. There we were fed on the basis of 11 - 14 karbovanetses a month. By modern standards, it is about the same as with the current “basket”. Anyway, in five-year time no one of us ever ate vegetables or greens etc. However, as we used to live and eat very modestly, we survived. When we were in the collective farms and when studying at universities we made do with restricted ration. Therefore it was easier for us to survive there than if we had had, so to speak, normal living conditions.

And two more positions need clarifying. Of course, we actually did nothing to be incriminated. But we were not able to do anything. Our world outlook was not that of a Ukrainian statist, but rather of an anarchist, because the state was not our and we perceive it as something foreign; therefore we fought against a foreign state. But now, when we have started to fight for our own country, we have new worldview problems associated with the fact that we are not prepared internally to build our own country, and mentally we are oriented and have determination to fight only against a foreign state.

And third point, which I wanted to add. My destiny, of course, was affected by my creative work, although the opposite is true as well. I want to read a poem written in the fall 1956 as a response to the Hungarian events. It consists of four lines only; its title is “Non-Jubilee” and it reads as follows:

One hundred and eight years as breath...

We’ve secretaries and not tsars,

And now tank delivers wreath

To Magyar tomb as Moscow mar.

I meant that 1956 was an echo of 1848. Here is my poem written in 1961, when they adopted a so-called seminal program specifying that the present generation will live under communism: the Program of the CPSU. I then wrote a poem entitled “The October Melody”:

The fall is slurping sludge,

And puppy whines and squawks,

While readily we grudge

And sniff the stinking socks.

We sniff the stinking socks

And feed a hungry chinch

We try the program blocks

To study pinch by pinch.

The text is like a snot

Both yellowish and thick.

I’d like to bark a lot

Like cur both scabby ‘n’ hick!

V.O.: And at the same time Ivan Drach wrote: “Oh, My Sunny Program!…”

H.H.: It’s the same program, which, by the way, figured at my trial, this same poem written in 1956. I told that it was difficult to shadow me, because I had no bed in a dorm, so all my notes I carried with me in my bag and a secret informer could not read them. But only in the dorm Hryhoriy Hubin read both my diaries and anecdotes, and squealed. In my correspondence I was very careful and correct and wrote nothing special.

So when anybody asked what did they incriminate me, I answered, “They cooked a verdict out of nothing to promote Captain Abashchenko to the rank of Major.” Captain Abashchenko investigated my case as the chief of investigation department for especially important cases of the KGB of Luhansk Oblast).

V.O.: If you think that you’ve told about all about your doing a term, then, please, tell us also about your life at large.

H.H.: Well, at large… It’s a bit more complicated… Once I was released I understood that for good twenty years I was not allowed to work in the specialty. I could not publish my works anywhere. Moreover, they did not allow me to become a technical and engineering employee and the more so I couldn’t find a job as a manual worker because I had a higher education. And if I do not work, they will expel me from Kyiv for parasitism. This situation continued for 20 years. The state with job placement in the independent Ukraine has not improved, let alone the means to basic subsistence.

V.O.: And yet you somehow found the ways to subsist? You lived somewhere. How did you manage to settle in Kyiv?

H.H.: At first I came to the Donbas. And there I had no dwelling. So I went to Kyiv. I married and received residence permit here. And then I was given an apartment because the old house was demolished. But the new apartment was much worse and they also housed our relatives with us. It was a long-time and hard experience. There is nothing special to tell; it has settled somehow. I want to tell a different story: how they tried to make me go wrong and collaborate with safety officers.

We had in Mordovia representative of Kyiv KGB Anatoly Antonovych Lytvyn. I do not know his final rank, but at the time he was a captain. So, it turned out, he watched over those political prisoners who returned to Kyiv. So one day he summoned me for conversation that, well, you should be working in the specialty. Nobody wants to employ you; meanwhile, as a moderate man, you could put in her/his place those overdoing things. He began behaving by the pattern: gently in manner, firmly in action. And I asked: “You wonna hook me up? Let’s get down to business: if you want me to shadow somebody, you know that I was sentenced for my long tongue, and will immediately tell the man, whom I am to follow, that I shadow him on the KGB instructions because I cannot do it secretly. Whether you want me to cooperate with you legally, you know that my biography is not quite suitable for this. Give me, please, the form of registration of personnel, but then again I might be not right for it because I have no special education.” And so I dragged things out, and then I burst out laughing and said, “Know what, Anatoly Antonovych? Well, I am “putrid” and you are “putrid”. Let’s speak without equivocation. You offered me collaboration, but I will offer this. You know your work on the one side, and I know people on the other side. Let’s write a book together as Musiyenko with Holovchenko[12]. You can match Holovchenko in this? Otherwise, if you die, and I die, there will be no trace left, nobody will remember…” He asked me to call tomorrow. I called and asked what about my proposal. He said: “We’ll discuss it, when I retire.” And that was the end of such KGB propositions.

Such was my epic.

V.O.: How have you managed to survive all these years? Where did you work?

H.H.: I worked at various jobs I was a loader, and of course, a fireman I didn’t avoid any work. Sometimes I resorted to writing, sometimes I published those writings. Now, when it became possible to publish anything, I’m short of money. Nobody supports Ukrainian press now.

V.O.: But you have been the redactor of two books by Levko Lukyanenko. I read your journalism in Literaturna Ukrayina Weekly, Ukrayinske Slovo Weekly, and Narodna Gazeta Weekly.

H.H.: I went in for journalism much. Tomorrow’s issue of Narodna Gazeta Weekly will feature my article, which, incidentally, applies to you. I write a bit of fiction.

V.O.: Have you published anything about dissent either your or someone else’s? For I have to include such things into the bibliography.

H.H.: Virtually no. In the Zone Magazine I’ve also published only my own literary works. I plan to write something on this topic… I work in editorial office of the Pamyatky Ukrayiny Magazine; I participated in editing one of the first books of Levko Lukyanenko I believe in God and in the Ukraine, I have written a preface to it. I helped him to edit and to put into suitable literary form the book On the Land of Maple Leaf.

There have been several journalistic publications on the protection of rightfulness that apply to dissent as well. For example, I argued against unfounded, as I believed, accusations against Oles Berdnyk by Henrikh Altunian, Stepan Khmara and Bohdan Rebryk. Perhaps, there were grounds to criticize Berdnyk, but I consider it dishonest to accuse him the way they did. I spoke against it not so much to protect Berdnyk as to protect rightfulness. And the tomorrow’s issue of the Ukrayinske Slovo Weekly will feature my polemical article aimed at correcting the views of Vasyl Ovsiyenko about the position of some of our dissidents in the presidential election question. I think that you will be interested to read it, too. I wanted to publish it in the same organ where you published your article against Yevhen Marchuk, the Chas newspaper, but the editors refused to publish my article. This much about polemics. I am not really against your views, I speak for rightfulness[13].

V.O.: Once you read me a very witty poem about Chornovil written in your student years. Did you study together?

H.H.: We were the same-year students and were in the same group. By the way, in this same Ukrayinske Slovo Weekly I have recently an article with reflections at the funeral of a fellow student. It was also about Chornovil and about what I think about this hullabaloo with the split of the Rukh. And that one poem was titled “The Ballad of Sunbeams”. It was written back in our university years. It was a kind of half-literature, half-humor, but it did reflect a bit of Chornovil’s nature. It mirrored his real character, his leaderism. It wasn’t so noticeable in university years, but was very strongly shown twenty years later. Actually, I think that people should use their abilities and opportunities at the right time. If you couldn’t or weren’t in time for it, your chance is missed.

V.O.: So it was you who brought this record of radio broadcast from June 7, 1999. We will make a copy. Also your conversation with Hryhoriy Pryshliak. When was it recorded?

H.H.: It was recorded in the past year, but no date was stamped.

V.O.: Thank you, let it also be. If you think you have finished your story, please tell your phone number and address for the record.

H.H.: Apartment 69, 19, Koltsov Boulevard, Kyiv -194. Phone: 276-35-08. And this picture was painted in 1965 by Victor Mytarchuk, there was such painter in Zhytomyr. I do not know where he is now and what his destiny is, but he is a very good artist. He painted this portrait of me in Dubrovlag in the concentration camp no. 11.

Well, this is it.

V.O.: Thank you, Mr. Hryhoriy.

 

[1] The main building of Kyiv University on Volodymyrska Street (translator’s note).

[2] I.e. the head of one person to the feet of another (translator’s note).

[3] Ivan Trokhymovych  Shvets (b. May 25/June 7 - d. September 5, 1983 (translator’s note).

[4] There is an untranslatable wordplay in Ukrainian. Bats in Ukrainian means “zap”, pots means “schmuck”, and the last name Shvets may be translated as “Shoemaker”. The Ukrainian noun shvets (shoemaker)  is spelled with the soft-sign ending. The pun suggests that Shvets was a pothead. Arrogating a pun to Maksym Rylsky is nothing but a folk etymology (translator’s note).

[5] Banderivets is a follower of Stepan Bandera and member of OUN (translator’s note).

[6] Melnykivets is a follower of Andriy Melnyk (translator’s note).

[7] Ukrainian abusive for Poles (translator’s note).

[8] Archaic, abusive for Germans (translator’s note).

[9] Abusive about Russians (translator’s note).

[10] Abusive about Ukrainians in general or slavish Ukrainians (translator’s note).

[11] Very strong tea (translator’s note).

[12] Writer Olexiy Musiyenko and Interior Minister Ivan Holovchenko wrote several books together. - Ed.

[13] Hryhoriy Hayovyi. "So why then go into politics?" in Ukrayinske Slovo Weekly, no.24, 17.06.1999; also viz.: Den Daily, no. 132, 22.07 - Backlash to the article of V. Ovsiyenko “We were equaled by the walls as statute...”, Chas Newspaper, 26.03.1999. - Ed.


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