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Dissident movement in Ukraine

MOROZ Rayisa Vasylivna

20.11.2014 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko | Interview obtained on July 9, 2000. Amended on 1.10.2008

Present: Rayisa Lysha and Vitaly Shevchenko.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: On July 9, 2000 Ms Rayisa Moroz pays a visit to the editorial office of Nasha Vira (Our Faith) Newspaper in Kyiv and tells about the visit of Oles Berdnyk to the United States. Or to Canada?

R.V.Moroz: To Canada. We just had another Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC). It was probably ten years ago. The perestroika was young. Otherwise they would not let him go abroad. Mr. Rozumnyi, Professor of Slavic Department, presented him as a great hero. Berdnyk was the main speaker at this Ukrainian Canadian Congress. He was represented by Professor Rozumnyi. He began delivering panegyrics; all stood up and gave him a standing ovation. And the same time my husband and I−well, my husband did it in my support− remained like one rooted to the spot and didn’t stand up. After that people started running up to me and asking why I had not got up. They began whispering secretively… I explained them: he repented and did it very improperly. Dziuba repented and named no one; it was rather a self-reproach. Well, either he disgraced himself or not… in any case, it’s his own funeral.

V.O.: In his statement Dziuba wrote only about himself.

R.M.: Only about himself. And this one, I say, cast a terrible shadow on the Helsinki Group, he actually lied; and now somebody makes him a hero? I do not agree; therefore I do not get up and do not applaud honoring him. Well, the information spread very quickly. The UCC ended in three days. Then everyone started asking me and I even wrote about it, because they started complaining why I spoiled the UCC resorting to such controversy. Therefore I wrote the same thing you say: I admire Berdnyk as a writer, my son read his works, but as a politician and as a dissident who got into politics, and then repented… he’d better keep out and scribble his works.

The UCC ended with a banquet. This is typical of exile… At first they applauded as a herd of sheep, but now they did not place him in the presidium or on the main place; they sat him below the salt and no one wanted to sit next to him. He sat at the table just by himself. And then he had a little bit more to stay in the hotel. And all by himself. He said: “I’m hungry, could I have something to eat, please…” (Laughter, incomprehensibly). They refused to feed him! For this feat I got it in the neck from the person, who represented Berdnyk, terrible curses addressed to me: “You’re a snake in the grass! You do not know anything!” So to each his own: me and Berdnyk. I’m sort of glad things happened the way they did… I do not know if this is worth recording…

V.O.: Let it be. How did you first come to Ukraine?

R.M.: I was the first one to apply: at the time no one else traveled to Ukraine and Moscow. Maybe someone did go, but I do not know. I applied, waited for two or three months and neither hide nor hair from the embassy: it was indisposed at issuing the permission. Then from the embassy comes a Russian diplomat who speaks English. At the University of Manitoba we have a lecture hall big as the sports hall, conference hall, thousands of people, students. He lectures in English that democracy in the USSR is very developed, that everybody can go there if s/he wishes so, that there are no obstacles, and even that all political prisoners are already free. I sat in this lecture hall and immediately posed a question: “Here you are saying that all political prisoners have been discharged. And I know for certain that Mykola Horbal is still behind bars, Ivan Hel is also in prison. They are my friends and they have not been released yet. And the second question: my mother is ill (I lied, my mother wasn’t ill), she is eighty-five years old, and I have been waiting for six months now for entry permit to go to Ukraine, and they don’t let me go.” He immediately: “do you say so?” And the whole audience booed! They drowned his voice. He says, “You come up to me after the lecture and we will settle this affair.” I came up and he pretended not to see me.

Nevertheless I got an entry permit. We had a parliamentarian, Pakhtakan, he was a Filipino, he fled from the Philippines like we fled from the USSR, because there was also a totalitarian regime, and he understood me. I drove my story into him. On the one hand, I want to go, but on the other hand, I’m afraid. But I want you to know that I’m leaving. I was already a Canadian citizen at the time. He understood me immediately. I asked him to help me to go to my mother. And he got down to business and wrote to the Soviet Embassy: why don’t you issue her an entry permit? Later, while meeting with his constituents, he used to tell about this my case publicly as about one of his successes. He said that he wrote, and Soviet Embassy officials asked why he did it, did his terms of reference covered traveling overseas? And he answered them: “Maybe I’ll have to go to the Soviet Union, therefore I want to know for how long should I wait and what the procedure is.” After that they gave me the entry permit.

V.O.: So you came in 1989and in what month?

R.M.: It was sometime in spring or summer, I just do not remember. But certainly in 1989, because then my granddaughter was born, and they sent me a telegram. Last year it was exactly ten years.

When I was leaving Ukraine, my brother saw me off and cried. I said you just wait, it couldn’t take too long, and you’d witness the ruin. I thought that it would take 3-4-5 years, but I made a little mistake.

V.O.: In what year did you leave?

R.M.: 1979. And exactly ten years later, in spring I arrived.

Rayisa Lysha: In 1980 or 1982…

R.M.: I say that in the second half of my life I was granted a gift like someone told me: it would not happen this way, it would happen that way. It was at the time when Valentyn was arrested for the second time…

V.O.: He was arrested again on June 1, 1970.

R.M.: 1970. They arrested him again and brought him before the court. And they said that he faced the sentence of 10 years of special regime and 5 years of exile. And already during the investigation for the first time in my life I kneel down and pray. And as if someone tells me that I have to bear the cross, a heavy cross to bear, but I must withstand the severe test, there is no easier way ahead. They convicted him to 9 years in the camp and 5 years in exile.

Second point: he goes without food. Sometime in February, he told me, “I want to go to a camp, to my friends, because here they will drive me to insanity; please, do something for in six months, I will declare an unlimited hunger strike.”

V.O.: In what year was it?

R.M.: I believe, sometime in 1974, early in the year, in January. He says that from June 1 he is going to announce an unlimited hunger strike; please, do something because here I will run mad, I can bear it no more. I’m going to Moscow. Fortunately, Liudmila Alekseeva and Larisa Bogoraz were very nice to me. I told them everything and asked what was to be done. They had no idea; well, we will think it over. I am going home. They sent a woman, what’s her name, to rest in the Carpathians. Olena Chornovil, Antoniv, calls me on the phone and says, oh, I miss you, please come. The allusion was not wasted on me. I should go. I arrive. They say, you know what, if you wish, we will arrange for you an interview with foreign correspondents in Moscow. If you like the idea, let them know; send a telegram that you agree. I go back home terribly oppressed; I deliberate: I have a baby to take care of, I am employed… what is to be done? I must agree but it’s ruddy.

V.O.: Ruddy, yes.

R.M.: Ruddy. All of it had happened in Ivano-Frankivsk. You know, if, for example, in Moscow they cut a nail, in Ivano-Frankivsk they cut off a hand, in Kyiv, maybe, a finger; it’s nothing but a province there. I thought I had to agree, because nothing else could be done. I sent the telegram: “Costume does not exactly suit me, but I would buy it.” I showed that telegram to Nina Strokata and she really liked it. I wished to express my fear, but it turned out the way it did. I told only Liuba Lemyk, Panas Zalyvakha did not know, nobody knew. I said: take care of my child please, he would come after school. I went to Moscow. Luda told me to visit him in the prison first and find out if he was on hunger strike. I took a taxi and went to Volodymyr to learn. I step out of the taxi (I do not know, if you know Volodymyr), and the main street there leads straight to the jail. This time I went by bus. I wished at the back of my mind that he wouldn’t be on the hunger strike, I wanted no interviews, what for did I need them. I have a child at home, I do not want. So I pray to God and on my way I see a poster. They advertized several movies, and the first poster read: “There is no returning back”. My heart sank and I thought: well, that’s torn it! I went to the prison. Liuda admonished me to think up an excuse and to worm out of the chief whether Valentyn was on the hunger strike. I was going to tear this chief’s limb from limb and said, "Oh, he is hungry, and you do nothing, he will die of hunger" and so on and so forth. He answered, “Well, you see, we are telling him the same thing: stop going hungry!”So I high-handedly took out this word out of him and learned that he was on the hunger strike. (Valentyn Moroz began an unlimited hunger strike on July 1, 1974 demanding to bring him from prison to a camp. He stopped it on November 22.–V.O.). The interview took place in front of newspersons from five countries. It was actually the first interview of a Ukrainian. I gave the interview, and looked down from the eighth floor: there was a pack of black KGB cars.

V.O.: Oh and how did you adventure out of the house?

R.M.: Well, they let me pass. The next day I went back home. You know, from Moscow you shouldered the burden of oranges, because I had to return Liuba’s kindness for her taking care of the child, also I carried sprats and something else. I went to the store and a woman followed me. She had black hair like yours, Rayisa, his unblinking eyes were black. I sighted the shadowing. She was close on my tail. At first I thought it was an accident, and then I understood that it was done intentionally. I was already on my way home to Liuda, and she followed me in the subway. I rushed out of the door at the last minute and she went on. I took the next train and she emerged from nowhere. She carried a small case like yours, an attaché-case or something. Apparently, she had a walkie-talkie, and every time she caught my eye. I felt butterflies in my stomach; I got out of the subway and said, “What do you want?” Then she runs away, but the moment I started to go she was after me once more. Then I called Liuda and told her about a woman that dogged my footsteps. “Don’t give a darn about it and go home.” I felt relieved and I went home. I came to the airport and there were tickets to Ivano-Frankivsk for everybody, but me. Then I tried to book a ticket to Lviv: there were tickets for everybody, but me. I waited until 2A.M. and finally booked a ticket to Lviv.

When I arrived in Lviv, there was pitch-dark night. I got off the plane, and somewhere before reaching the gate, two militiamen took me by the arms, “Let’s go with us.” Then I told them, "Well, you just command aloud that you arrest me; is it the KGB’s order? Is it behind you? You cannot do it on your own, because I haven’t breached any regulations.” They were silent and only made me go. They brought me into the office and offered a chair. In came a KGB officer: “Well, Rayisa Vasylivna, we’ll buy you a ticket for a puddle jumper from Lviv to Ivano-Frankivsk for June 1.” And I said, “I’m not going by air.”−“And how will you get home?”−“I’ll go by train.” –“No worries? Well, go home. You can go.” Meanwhile I keep thinking: is it true or isn’t it? They haven’t arrested me and let me go. And get off outside in the twilight and there is a taxi, only one car and darkness. The taxi was obviously theirs.

I hired that taxi out of foolishness but I had no alternative. I got in the car and he drove me to the Chornovils (I do not know if you know where Chornovil lives: a little out-of-the-world place, a network of side streets Beyond the Okruzhna Street, 13, Spokiyna Street. I looked back and saw a black car tailing us. An idea flashed across my mind: it would have been better to be arrested at the airport, there were people there. Joking apart, they could disfigure my face, anything. And Liuda stuffed some samvydav publications in my accompanied luggage. The men, who had tried to bring these things to Moscow, failed, so now women had to carry those publications. How could I get rid of them in the taxi? If they place me in arrest, this might be damning evidence against me. He did not drive me up to Olena and dropped me off. My mind was in a haze and I orientated myself very badly. I latched onto Olena  in the middle of the night, awakened her, she noticed that I looked like death warmed up, and at that very moment I felt that she was nearer of kin to me than my sister. I took a bath, she gave me tea and some tranquilizers she had as far as she was a physician.

She reassured me a little; we lay down for a while and then left at 5A.M. to catch the 6A.M. train. It was drizzling outside. A KGB officer was standing under an umbrella in front of her house, waiting. Olena and I went to the station on foot for there were still no buses running; two women, she sees me off, and I thought at the moment where all those knights were now? There were men at large. Kendzior was still at large. Olena saw me off, got me onto the train, and that’s that. Later she was summoned and asked, “Well, haven’t we frightened Rayisa a little?” Thus ended my first interview for the West.

V.O.: Did you know the investigator Kolchyk?

R.M.: I knew Kolchyk since the first trial of Moroz. That investigator was of half-Greek origin, and against this backdrop we formed a sort of friendly relations, almost amiable. The first time he judged Moroz and his accomplice from Lutsk, Ivashchenko. It was the first and at the same time the last trial open to the public.

V.O.: Was Kolchyk a judge?

R.M.: No, he was a KGB investigator, but he was the investigator of the accomplice of Moroz. The accomplice repented. It was the first and at the same time the last trial open to the public, later the people were not allowed to be present in the courtroom, this was the end of public trials. Then I met Kolchyk. He admitted that one of his parents was of Greek origin: either father, or mother, I do not remember. I think his mother was Greek, because he was born in Donetsk Oblast. Well, due to the fact that we were almost fellow citizens, almost Greeks, he hobnobbed with me, gave Valentyn and me a lift from the Lutsk court; it was cold there, winter.

After my first interview I went out in Ivano-Frankivsk and see on our quay, away from the KGB, Kolchyk sitting on a bench. He knew that I used to go to work at this very hour. He thought he could have a short talk with me in a friendly way. I looked at him, said hello and went on, nothing was said.

V.O.: And where was that?

R.M.: In Ivano-Frankivsk.

Rayisa Lysha: Why in Ivano-Frankivsk?

R.M.: I think he wanted to tell me what it implied. Maybe, he wanted to persuade me to stop doing it, because I gave the interview, and it was something unheard of for Ivano-Frankivsk, especially since in Kyiv, no one carried on like this.

Rayisa Lysha: Actually, where did you live?

V.O.: In Ivano-Frankivsk. And Kolchyk appeared there; he already worked in Kyiv having stepped up due to his achievements in Lutsk. It might be after he tipped Dziuba’s duke, made him write a statement.

R.Lysha: Wait a minute; it seemed to me that you lived in Kyiv?

R.M.: We never lived in Kyiv.

V.O.: He tipped Dziuba’s duke in 1972-73.

R.M.: Oh, then it was later. He seemed to be a talented and clever sly fox. Now he comes on the scene, but I do not pay any attention to him, say “hi”, and pass on. He understood that I wouldn’t talk with him; he saw that he was left out in the cold which meant a no-go situation.

Thereafter their attitude became an epic. Every day they summoned me for questioning. They sent for my brother who worked as a builder at the collective farm, and told him to go and save his sister, because they were about to arrest me. Later my brother told that they got him into a black Volga and brought him to Donetsk, booked him a ticket and made him go. He came to me at work, and I did not work at the institute at the time, but at a vocational school. And frantically, paying no attention to the present company began shouting: “What are you doing? You will be arrested!” He could scarcely hold back his tears. I somehow calmed him and took him home. Every day they summoned me for interrogation and said: she’s at our office, we interrogate her. My brother came to my work: I worked every day. Then they said, “Rayisa Vasylivna, you blame us for everything. And if something happens to you, you will also accuse us?” I said, “Well, if something happens to me, I will probably not be able to blame someone else anymore.” I said to myself: would they kill me or what? He said, “No, I mean simply some ill luck.” The next day a stone hit me here, it was a good thing it did not hit in the eye. Here’s the bruise under my eye. They kept fidgeting every day and kept a wary eye on me. They broke my windows, and windows of both my neighbors saying: it’s for her danglers. Both my neighbors and I were lonely women. They peddled rumors: it’s for their philanderers. Ivan told me: “You see, if their windows hadn’t been broken, you would have blamed the KGB.” I said to myself: KGB or not KGB, and I called to Moscow and told about these happenings and that I did not know whether the KGB had broken my window. They nearly hit my eye with a stone, and I had a shiner now. That Muscovites said that looked like KGB tricks.

Two days later my friend, to whom I gave a thing he desired from a parcel (I might not sell), also had his window broken. On the one hand, I did not doubt that the KGB was to blame, on the other hand, I did not catch them red-handed. I do not know if this sounds convincing for you, but I was sure it was their doing, but they did not want me to catch them red-handed. So it went. And later they called me all the time and warned that they would arrest me. My only argument was as follows: should I save my skin when my husband was on a hunger strike and he might die, what should I do? I did what everyone would undertake, if s/he were in my place. It did work and I was not arrested. But later Rayisa Rudenko was arrested for almost the same.

V.O.: She demonstrated in Moscow near the Lenin Library, which lasted several minutes. However, it was raining and only a few people could see her slogan. But that was enough.

R.M.: She was arrested when there were other times. (Rayisa Rudenko demonstrated near the Lenin library in Moscow with the slogan "Free my husband, disabled war veteran M.Rudenko!” on 05.09.1978. She was arrested on 15.04.1981.—V.O.). I gave my interview in 1974 when Valentyn had been on hunger strike for five months already. It was my first interview, and then other interviews followed. I visited Moscow several times. Then Sakharov stood up for him. Later in Canada they created many committees in support of Moroz. When he was still on hunger strike, and I went to visit him, they wouldn’t grant a visit. But one thing was really terrible: he looked as a dried mushroom, he weighed something around 56 kilograms.

V.O.: When did that visit take place?

R.M.: If I don’t miss my guess, it happened in the fall or late summer of 1974. In about two months after he went on hunger strike. They also summoned his father and said that I was so-and-so and did not persuade him to stop starving himself, and you, his father, should persuade him. They summoned him from a Volyn hamlet. He called me, and together we went to Moroz. I told him that he looked as a dried mushroom and weighed 50-55 kilograms. That was terrible. He spoke as if he was off his trolley…

V.O.: And was the appointment organized?

R.M.: He sat in front of us.

V.O.: Across a table?

R.M.: Across a table.

V.O.: There wasn’t a glass partition yet?

R.M.: No, there was no glass partition yet. We were lucky that there were no such partitions at the time. We were sitting vis-à-vis with him, across a table, and Valentyn shot the bull; I thought, well, he was a bit touched. His father came out and said, “My dear child… is he sick?” He contained himself and didn’t say “crazy”. I said, “Please, Dad, calm down: they wouldn’t treat him all the same, they’d make it even worse.” I was afraid that they would send him to a mental clinic; and in fact they did it. His recent letter, in which he said that he stopped a hunger strike, was absolutely crazy. Absolutely crazy, there was no sense in what he wrote. It looked like they drugged him. Dad saw him for the first time and asked if he was sick. So it went.

Several times I gave interviews during his hunger strike and there, in the West, they caused a stir. Even Lyudmila Alekseeva said: "If in America they followed the example of Canada” There the committees in support of Moroz were created, and in America as well, but not so many. They went hungry for him. I made newspaper clippings of those years, there were duplicates of Svoboda Newspaper, almost in every issue: Rayisa Moroz said, Rayisa Moroz said. It seemed these sods wrote it and didn’t give a damn about Rayisa Moroz. I did it for publicity sake, and they used it. The last time it happened when they brought him to the Serbsky Center. I went to visit him after the hunger strike and he was not there. They didn’t tell his whereabouts. So I came to Lyudmila and we went to their superiors. They wouldn’t disclose the whereabouts as well. I got so angry… Lyudmila said, “You said it in a fit of temper!” I said: “I will noise abroad now that you sent him off and keep a secret whereto.” Only then they said that he was at the Serbsky Center. I went to visit him at the Serbsky Center and prayed that he wouldn’t be really mad because the last time he looked like that. He looked very strange, very strange. I do not know what he would say about this, but he really was very unusual at the center, when we were granted an appointment. I think he was drugged at the time, maybe they mixed it with his food.

V.O.: Did he mention any shots?

R.M.: Oh, during his father’s visit he told him about forced feeding, through the tube. I remember he said that everything inside him was torn already; they extracted bloody tubes because this feeding lasted for five months. When he was discharged, he said, that’s the first time she battled for my interests, and a second time when I was on hunger strike (or what it was during his last years there), she collaborated with the KGB; he maintained it in the West.

V.O.: And in 1974, I remember they rumored in Mordovia that Valentyn Moroz died. I remember being told that Zorian Popadiuk told Chornovil about it. Chornovil did time in a punishment cell in the camp no. 19, and from this cell they brought him to the medical unit.

R.M.: When was it?

V.O.: In 1974, like in the first six months. And here they convey Chornovil…

R.M.: You know, I heard that rumor, too.

V.O.: …they led him from the medical unit to the punishment cell, Zorian told him this, the cops started shouting, but Chornovil: “Aw, aw, aw.” And went to his punishment cell. But it had to be disproved later.

R.M.: This rumor came to my ears as well.

V.O.: There was a rumor that some criminal, who shared the cell with him, slashed him. Is that right?

R.M.: It happened earlier in time. He said it was a little cut. He showed his stomach, but from afar and from the fear I sparsely made it out. But he said that he was slashed. He said that they put him into a cell with criminals. He pressed for a one-man cell. And when he was transferred to a one-man cell, he went under.

During his first imprisonment Kolchyk carried out the investigation concerning the Report from the Beria Reserve, but he let Valentyn out. Kolchyk was a sly person. I’m sure he released him because he decided that this man would give them even more evidence because the Reports provided no pegs to hang on. He wrote the Reports in the camp and passed the book to Chornovil, Chornovil published it, released it to the world. Kolchyk pressed me to tell the story of how Chornovil gave me the Report from the Beria Reserve to read. I went to Olena and to Chornovil and he told me that. I wrote about this to Moroz: “I was Visiting Vyacheslav and I was treated to a delicious meal.” A month or two later Kolchyk arrived in Ivano-Frankivsk, summoned me for interrogation and spoke in a roundabout way: we are both of Greek origin, we are from Donetsk, we are fellow-citizens, but in the end we have a Dutch concert. Then he said, “And now, Rayisa Vasylivna, one question. You write that you visited Chornovil and ate delicious food: what is it about?” [Laughter]. And I told him, “I do not remember what I was entertained to.” So it went.

Then they released Moroz. Kolchyk was sly, I’m one hundred percent sure that he did it on purpose, because this man would never stop at what had been accomplished. And he wrote three essays. I think he was imprisoned for one of them. And then they found things here and there; moreover, our hostel was bugged.

V.O.: Was it you who took the Report from the Beria Reserve abroad?

R.M.: No, it wasn’t me. Martha Skorupska took it abroad from Lviv.

V.O.: Wait, and what about the prison?

R.M.: Also it wasn’t me. I took out other works.

V.O.: I was sure it was you.

R.M.: No, I took out his last works absolutely unsuitable for publication. He wrote comic stories, which were not funny. After the hunger strike he lost his ability to write well like his political essays. His journalism was not that bad. In fact, it was another cause of the breach: I did not publicize enough his works. I felt ill at ease and thought that, maybe I did not understand; maybe I did not latch on to this sort of humor? I went to Oksana Mieshko who was his only admirer. You know, he had already broken with Svitlychny, he had broken with Chornovil already. I told Mieshko: “Oksana Yakivna, please read it and tell me if I am right?” She said, “Well, he is a journalist and publicist of good reputation for his past writings, and these manuscripts compromise him.”

Vitaliy Shevchenko: Did he write his Chronicle of Resistance earlier in time?

R.M.: He wrote the Chronicle of Resistance during those nine months out of prison.

V. Shevchenko: In-between two prison terms?

R.M.: In-between two prison terms he wrote three essays: one about Belarusian writer Yevdokia Los Among the Snows, Chronicle of Resistance about Kosmach, Moses and Danat and Instead of the Last Statement…

I think that Kolchyk released him on purpose: fly, my birdie…

V.O.: What do you mean by released? He had served his full sentence of four years.

R.M.: During the last year he spent under investigation.

V.O.: While in prison?

R.M.: Kolchyk in Kyiv conducted his investigation while Valentyn Moroz was still in prison. I then came to visit him. In my reminiscences about Svitlychny I write that Liolia helped me to buy things and fruits for him. I went to visit him, and then I was robbed, and they stole my possession. In the last year they wanted to try him for his Reportage, but released instead. Then they held him in the one-man cell; it was in 1969. At the time Vyacheslav openly propagated the Reportage under the name of Moroz. He sent it to Shelest and Moroz was brought to Kyiv for interrogation. Kolchyck was a cunning guy: I had known already that he would be discharged, and Moroz was still unaware. I went to visit him and he said, “You know, the walls weigh on me.” I think it was claustrophobia: a person believes that walls weigh in her/him, shows up an abnormal fear of being in enclosed or narrow places. I am somehow convinced that then Kolchyk released him on purpose, because he knew that he would write something, and then he will have more evidence. I collated things and said, “Here you sit on the nose, almost in the jaws, and keep tickling…” Look, Svitlychnyi is a soft man and he is joking with them, he treats them as humans, though humans they are not. And Moroz is a different man. I came to visit Volodymyr. I spoke Ukrainian and they had no claims on me. Well, I tried to be deliberate in my speech for them to understand. And he spoke trying to misguide them. They cancelled the visit only because he spoke Ukrainian. “Go and insist.” Once more I go back to Moscow and demand an explanation trying to persuade them, “In Ukraine they do not compel your prisoners to speak Ukrainian; why do you force me and him speak Russian? It’s irregular and non-natural.” They grant a visit again. I go there over again, but this time they arrange for the interpreters. And he goes on with such eccentric behavior…

V.O.: Confrontation.

R.Lysha: Confrontation. Now, let’s consider it from another standpoint. If he were softer, he would not have the resistance power, ability to withstand on his own. Such was his nature, he defended his independence…

R.M.: Read his Last Statement. It’s almost "I come against ye!" Such was his nature. May you switch it off? [The dictating machine is switched off].

R.M.: That year, in 1974, when he was still on a hunger strike, sometime in June, there was scheduled a football match.

V.O.: Canada−Soviet Union?

R.M.: Yes, in Canada, with a live broadcast to the Soviet Union. And there was a committee for protection of Moroz. And there Canadians, young boys, suddenly unfold a banner “Free Moroz!” in Ukrainian and in English. In Moscow they suddenly stop broadcasting allegedly for technical reasons. They did not expect this. Already in May there were very many committees. In America, they created a committee in Philadelphia. Then women made a fuss of him, prostrated themselves before him and kissed him… and it was too much for him. I said, “He survived in prison, survived in the camp, but the glory was too much for him…”

V.O.: Went through fire and couldn’t go through water.

R.M.: Yes, he couldn’t go through water. Fame, money and women… he could not contain himself. Things began to take off: women prostrated themselves before him and kissed his hands…

R.Lysha: But he did his bit.

V.O.: They took him as a saint.

R.M.: It is true. His rating was at such a level that women prostrated themselves before him and kissed his hands. Wherever he went. And he considered himself a Messiah. For example, he went to the exhibition−I was with him during the first two weeks, − opened his Bible, saw something suggestive, and then closed it. Nothing would happen to him: he was a Messiah. In fact, he imagined that he had something divine in him that put him over human laws. He never prepared for his speeches. I am a poor speaker. Yevhen Sverstiuk unexpectedly called me to speak at Chornovil’s fortieth day obit, I could not speak. Meanwhile Moroz was very eloquent, and I listened and thought, “What was he talking about?” He did not know what he spoke about. A sort of emasculated speech. Previously, he worked and was a good publicist, but with time his words became meaningless. He couldn’t recollect what he had dwelt upon.

What else can I say? Well, I gave a lot of baloney.

And then people almost loathed him… People wrote such nasty things about him and asked me because I had left him. I only said that he did his term in very difficult conditions, he was like crucified. During the first year they often me to participate in public events and I also was a superstar: he said one thing and I said something different. They called him to make a speech and invited me as well. So I only said that in the past the political prisoners were kept together, they gave them books, and now there are only a few of them, they experience terrible psychological pressure, and they are kept together with incompatible people. I said that he simply had failed to bear such pressure; such was my explanation.

R.S.Lysha: Yes, that’s right.

R.M.: And it was better, because if I slandered him like he slandered me, they would form a bad opinion about me. In fact, it turned out that they had a good opinion of me and started to cast aspersions on him. I thought, “My God, this scribbler had never come to grief and now he has the cheek to slander Moroz. At first he extolled him to the skies, and now he disgraces him.” I said: "You’d never come to grief and now you have the cheek to slander him?”

R.Lysha: It is in Ukrainians to run to extremes, I would say.

R.M.: But especially among immigrants.

V.O.: It was well said by Vasyl Stus. As I remember now, in 1976 he got an issue of Vitchyzna Magazine. It happened in the camp no. 19 in Mordovia, in summer. Vasyl received this magazine, opened it and saw the article of Ivan Dziuba about one such Yuvan Shestalov[1]… He was foreclosed to write about Ukrainian literature. Vasyl turned over the pages and said, “Poor Ivan, what have they done to you? A cruiser in a puddle.” Only Stus could say: “A cruiser in a puddle.” And of Dziuba’s repentance he said, “You’ve no idea what pressure they exerted on him… And let those, who weren’t here, keep silence.”

R.M.: Actually, I also thought so when they started to slander. Stop slandering and shut up.

V.O.: Stus said, “I won’t have the heart to blame, but let those, who weren’t here, keep silence."

R.M.: You couldn’t put it better. I lacked the words, but I thought the same. I thought: “Are you entitled to write? At first you extolled him to the skies, and now you disgrace him. You do not have right, you were not there.”

R.Lysha: You should consider the doings of this man. This man did a lot, I can attest to this.

R.M.: When I was going to emigrate, one officer in Moscow embassy said: “I was on vacations in Philadelphia and there a popular assembly took place”; he said it in Ukrainian −viche. “Many people came to welcome Moroz.” You see, they cheered him, and then just turned away.

V.O.: They also cheered Jesus Christ and then turned away.

R.Lysha: It’s not in vain. This treachery is in human nature. But something was left. I think that all these small things will be sifted out and they will rivet anyone’s attention. This is a personal tragedy.

R.M.: You know, even the English three-volume Encyclopedia of Ukrainian Studies edited by Struk… There is no entry “Moroz” in Ukrainian version, and concise English version features a terrible picture of him… It’s been done on purpose, just to mock at him. There’s nothing about me, but about Moroz there is an entry. I was ashamed of this photo. They printed it for giggles. And it’s the scholarly world; they’re not men from the street…

V.O.: Ms. Rayisa, I’ll take the liberty to repeat that history is not always what it was but what was recorded.

R.M.: But who writes hi story? Mostly men write.

V.O.: I’ve told you that the Ukrainian part of International Dictionary of Dissidents will include 120 Ukrainian names. Among them there are many women. I may name them now. So the list will include Olena Antoniv, Vira Lisova, Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska, two Svitlychny activists, Olga Heiko, Oksana Mieshko, Oksana Popovych, Iryna Senyk, Stefaniya Shabatura, Iryna Kalynets, Sichko’s wife Stefaniya, and now your name will be added. So I ask you now, despite the fact that there are many people present here, to tell about yourself, so that we can write an entry about you as a person who resisted the regime. Just like this: born, baptized, of what origin, and name your parents. Could we do it now?

R.M.: Yes, you may record it. If all those present listen.

V.O.: They also find it interesting.

R.Lysha: What do you mean by today? It cannot be done today. One should her homework to tell it fully…

R.M.: I was born on April 1, 1937, in the Greek village of Velyka Novosilka, Donetsk Oblast, which was called at my birth Velyky Yanisol. It’s a Tatar name, I think. I was born into a Greek family. This was a Greek village. I graduated from the ten-year school there; it was a Russian school, because Greeks had to go to Russian schools.

V.O.: Please, name your parents.

R.M.: My father was Vasyl Levtorov; his proper name was Levtoros, but in tsarist Russia my grandfather was renamed as Levtorov.

R.Lysha: Your father was Greek?

R.M.: My father and my mother, all my ancestors were Greek, and I was born into a Greek family. My father was Levtorov Vasyl Ivanovych, mother Levtorova Yevdokiya Ivanivna, the original name was Levtoros.

V.O.: And what about the maiden name?

R.M.: My maiden name is Levtorova.

V.O.: And your mother’s maiden name?

R.M.: My mother’s maiden name was Chelakh. In 1955 I graduated from the Russian ten-year school. I entered the Lviv University, Department of Foreign Languages, German language. I graduated from it in 1960. I was placed on a job in Volyn Oblast. I married Valentyn Moroz two years before my graduation in 1958.

V.O.: So you studied together?

R.M.: He studied at the history department in the same university, and I studied the German philology. Since 1960, I worked for four years in Volyn, in the town of Horokhiv. I taught German at school, he taught history. Then he temped in Lutsk, later both of us got jobs at the Ivano-Frankivsk Pedagogical Institute. It was in 1964, in the fall. I became a lecturer in German, and he became a lecturer in history at the department of history. He worked until the summer of 1965.

On September 1, 1965, he was arrested. I was of Greek origin, and there was a Greek head manager of the museum, who in 1937 left her arrested husband; they hoped that I would follow suit. She called me…They exerted pressure on me suggesting to leave him. The rector called me and said that I’d be better off raising my child without a husband.

V.O.: And was Valentyn Junior born?

R.M.: He was born on January 3, 1962. So there was this pressure. They supposed that because of my Greek origin I couldn’t be a Ukrainian nationalist. Somehow I held out until his release.

When he was arrested for a second time in 1970, I worked for another year. When they gave me the sack, I told them that they signed me off because of Moroz. In 1971 I was sacked, I was jobless one year, and then gave me a job of a librarian in the remote technical and vocational school in Ivano-Frankivsk. There I worked as a librarian, although it was not my profession. I watched over two cases of books in the technical and vocational school; that was my job.

V.O.: You mentioned how you went to visit…

R.M.: All of this started because it was difficult for him to do his term, and I had to defend him. In 1971 I began putting in applications. In fact, my first application was written by Vyacheslav Chornovil, I only signed it. I did not know if I had a talent for writing applications. And then I began to write myself. I wrote applications in his defense in Moscow. And then my first interview took place in 1974 when he was on hunger strike. In fact, I was struggling with the problem. Later persecution was initiated, as well as the terrible pressure on me. Not only that I was summoned for questioning: the worst was when I was summoned and asked, “And how old is your son?” At the time my son was 13-14 years old. I had a premonition that this was no accident, the KGB major (I do not remember his name) asked me on purpose. I went out and thought that probably they would try to pressure me through my son.

It did happen that way. It was something incredible. They made him a wrongdoer, registered him at the militia office and refused to cross off the register. They planted a bike on him. Allegedly, some boy stole a bike of a militia chief and sold it to my son, and then said that it was my son who had stolen it. And my son said that he bought it for three karbovanetses. “You prove it; here take three karbovanetses, you have nothing.” Their scenario failed because he did buy the bike for three karbovanetses. It turned out that the bicycle belonged to the chief of militia. It’s not that easy to steal a bike from the militia chief. But he was registered at the militia office and he was considered a registrant almost to the tenth grade.

In the ninth grade, my son called me from school and said, “Mom, they want to take me to a mental hospital.” I asked, “Why?”−“Because I have been registered with the militia for several years now.” And before that I went to the militia: “For how long will you consider him a registrant? There are no new violations, only that past accident with the bike, and he did not steal it.” The militia officer answered: “The school does not make a request.” I went to school: “The militia does not make a request”. Then I blazed up: “Well, you may keep him registered until retirement!” I was angry and went away. And then it turned out that in the ninth grade they would take him to a psychiatric hospital. Then I fired up in real earnest, “What?” Immediately I called to Moscow and told all my friends: “They are taking my son to a psychiatric hospital. They have registered him for nothing at the militia office, and now they are about to take my child to a psychiatric hospital.” They immediately released him; they dropped the idea of a mental hospital the moment they heard I would make a big deal out of it.

So it was the worst period when they started to pursue my son.

Once a friend gave him three karbovanetses and said, “Go and buy horilka.” And he was a minor, and then minors could not buy horilka. It’s good that he was already sadder but wiser and said, “No, go and buy yourself.”

R.Lysha: What is he doing now?

R.M.: He abides in Munich unemployed. He worked there for radio “Svoboda” and when the editorial office moved to Prague, he did not go to Prague and now abides in Munich. What else can I say?

V.O.: You told a little bit about your visits… How did you manage to go out? As far as I remember, Valentyn was released in 1979 in connection with the signing of the START-2 (treaty between the USSR and the U.S. “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty”.—V.O.). Then several people were released.

R.M.: Carter and Brezhnev signed the agreement.

V.O.: On June 18, Carter and Brezhnev gave each other a soul kiss… I saw it on TV in the zone.

R.M.: They were released not on June 18, but at the end of April. I can tell about it. In late April, Nadiya Lukyanenko called me from Chernihiv. I had already resigned my job−something prompted me−in the technical and vocational school, without rhyme or reason. I kept thinking: “They pay me 70 karbovanetses and constantly keep me hooked, while my child is unattended” and gave up my job. Nadiya Lukyanenko called me on Saturday: “Rayisa, are you asleep?”−“Yes, I am asleep, what’s up?”−“ Valentyn is already in New York. Switch on your radio.” I asked: “What? What station?”−“BBC, Voice of America.” Our radio jamming experts were unable to jam all enemy voices blabbering the same thing: they exchanged five political prisoners, i.e. Kyiv Baptist Heorhiy Vins, three skyjackers, Kuznetsov and two more, and Moroz was the fifth on the list.

V.O.: Samolotchiki case: Kuznetsov, Dymshits…

R.M.: Dymshits, Pastor Vins, and Moroz. Three skyjackers from Leningrad were exchanged for two soviet spies.

V.O.: The names of the spies were in the Soviet press. They got a jail term of 30 years in the United States.

R.M.: Nadiya said: “You just listen: he’s already in New York and you sleep.” It was Nadiya Lukyanenko who got me on the phone. His first wife, not his present wife Nadiya.

R.Lysha: Where is she, his first wife?

R.M.: She lives in Chernihiv… I listen to the radio, and nobody tells me anything. In two weeks they summoned me to the Visa and Registration for Foreigners Office.

V.O.: Do you remember the date when they were let out?

R.M.: April 29. And about two weeks later they called me to the Visa and Registration for Foreigners Office and said, "Well, you already know?”−“I know.”−“Will you go?”−“I will go.” Then, of course, I began to pack up, but they told me not to take anything with me. It was hard to leave.

V.O.: Did they mean not to take literature?

R.M.: No, no, it was decided at the highest level to let the family go. I actually had no choice. I really wanted to go, but I knew: in that situation each prisoner would leave, it would be for them the way out. And I knew that my child here would never enter the university. So I was leaving with tears, but I was leaving.

V.O.: And where did you arrive then?

R.M.: In New York, for Valentyn was in New York then. He had been travelling all over the world already: he went to London, he was everywhere. I arrived just in time for the American Independence Day, July 4. All Americans who were seeing me off were drunk. This was how I left.

R.S.Lysha: Had he been already out of head?

R.M.: He had been there for two months already…

V.O.: What were you doing there?

R.M.: The first year I worked in the Suchasnist. They gave me to translate into English our-your applications of dissidents. To read and type them. They were all… How were they called? Sort of cards.

V.O.: Right: ksivy or cards.

R.M.: I read those cards. Then I grew terribly indignant and angry at them: “Why, those are Sichko’s applications!” As I was leaving, Sichko said: “You ask them why they take no action on them.” He wanted them to be broadcasted. Otherwise what for were they? And they in New York twiddled their thumbs, got paid, took care of their eyes and didn’t read, it was hard for them, the language sounded strange for them and they did not understand. So they hired me and I read through a magnifying glass. By the way, there I began to wear glasses. I read them and typed. I started typing for the first time, until then I was not able to print.

V.O.: Directly on your PC or on a typewriter?

R.M.: Not likely PC! I used a typewriter. One year I worked for the Suchasnist or the Prologue. By the way, at the time Sheveliov was the editor; he encouraged me to write an article on the Greeks. It was my debut in social and political journalism.

V.O.: And science.

R.M.: Even in science, but in journalism in the first place, yes. I wrote about my Greeks. He wanted to have a section about the life of minorities in Ukraine. There one more author, it seems to me a Bulgarian, and that was the end of the rubric in the Suchasnist. But I wrote, and he told me that I would be an author. And I have been writing up to now.

Then I went to the university. I spent one year in New York. It was a bad time. After the village, after Ivano-Frankivsk, where I lived on the Naberezhna Street, where I had an apartment with large floorage, it was very difficult in New York. A lady came from Chicago and said: “We also are entitled to one dissident.” We all were held up in New York: Nadiya Svitlychna, Petro Hryhorenko and others. So I went to Chicago and decided to go and study library science; I graduated in two years.

Then I married again: I had been already divorced from Moroz. I married in Winnipeg, and so I ended up in Canada, got a job of librarian at the college of St. Andrew. For a long time I wrote for the "Voice of America", and presented reportages. Four reportages per month. I mostly reviewed books in English, Polish, Russian, and various articles about Ukraine. For example, there was a very interesting book Yana telling about eviction of Ukrainians from Western Ukraine. I read the books, prepared reviews; my reviews weren’t exactly critical examinations, for which I wasn’t professionally trained. I worked there until 1990, and then they closed down the Canadian foreign radio broadcasts and sacked freelance correspondents. So since 1990 I began working as a freelance correspondent for the Radio Canada International. And I’m still working there. There is actually nothing to talk about now, but they get hard on me. I do not like it, now the events here are more interesting than events there. But they want the listeners here to know what is happening in Canada.

Vitaliy Shevchenko: Maybe you have any publications?

R.M.: No, up-to-date information only. For example, Kuchma paid a visit and I covered the event. The "Voice of America" ​​and BBC were also interested in my coverage. Or when Borys Tarasiuk came, writer Yuriy Shcherbak. But I say that I’m not interested. Well, now you can switch off.

V.O.: It was Ms. Rayisa Moroz, July 9, 2000. Recorded by Vasyl Ovsiyenko. Rayisa Lysha and Vitaly Shevchenko were present.


[1] Yuvan Nikolayevich Shestalov (Russian: Юван Николаевич Шесталов; born 22 June 1937 in Kamratka village, Beryozovsky District, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, died 5 November 2011) was a Mansi writer from Russia, arguably the best known author in the Mansi language (although he mostly wrote in Russian). His work in Mansi has been widely translated and he worked actively to preserve the language and its culture. (translator’s note).

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