RUSYN Ivan Ivanovych
V.V.Ovsiyenko: May 26, 1999 Vasyl Ovsiyenko has a conversation with Ivan Rusyn in his apartment in Kyiv.
Mr. Ivan, the Kharkiv Human Rights Group compiles an archive in order to use it and make the Dictionary of Ukrainian Dissidents. You are also on our list, and you know why. So, please, tell us about yourself in a manner you consider the best.
I.I.Rusyn: It is a very useful and important work, because time is running fast, there will be a time when people will forget, if the information is not recorded now.
What can I tell about myself? I was not active fighter, as they say, but I always tried to contribute to success of our cause. How did I become a dissident? It happened a long time ago in the sixties. As a normal Soviet engineer I was placed on job in Kyiv at the end of 1959 having graduated from the Lviv Polytechnic Institute. My specialty is not humanitarian but purely technical: geodesy.
I was an ordinary country boy. I was born into an ordinary rural family in 1937. My parents: mother Xeniya, born in 1902, and father Ivan, born in 1886. They reached a great age: father lived to 75 years, and my mother to 92.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Your father’s name was Rusyn, and what was your mother’s name?
I.I.Rusyn: Rusyn Too, but from the family of Babaks, active UIA insurgents. Her brother Oleksa in the Village of Tuchapy, Horodok Region, was even a detachment commander, who fought against the NKVD units, or as we called them at the time− the red broom. He was killed in action as a hero. The village was enveloped and an unequal battle ensued, in which many red scum were killed as well. This to some extent may have influenced the formation of my mind though I was schooled like everyone else then. All, especially at the institute, were Komsomol members because the non-members were admitted to the institute; at the time this was the reason why many youngsters could not get higher education.
It is now a thing of the past. Parents knew this because many of our villagers were deported to Siberia. Our family, that is Rusyn father, was not repressed: somehow he checked himself as a farmer. And then they moved ahead with collective farming. He joined the collective farm and so his family was not deported like some other families.
As they say, “everyone has his own destiny and his way to tread”. Three persons from our family received higher education: my father, still under Austria, finished the classical school; therefore he knew the value of education and tried to be overcautious to let his children get education.
So, as I mentioned, in 1959, I graduated from the institute and arrived in Kyiv. It was the so called period of Khrushchev Thaw already, but during the thaw the politicized people got hold of exactly what was happening, while persons with a background in engineering remained not well informed.
In the sixties, already in 1961, in Kyiv, not only in Kyiv, but also throughout the Ukraine, the Shevchenko’s woks and traditions were in the limelight. A lot of young people, and I as well, found their way to understanding national culture and distinct national consciousness was formed. The literary evenings were organized. Especially where Ivan Dziuba took the floor: he was the idol of young people and the house was always full.
At that time we began to celebrate the 22nd of May. The functionaries took the initiative and saw a chance to get their hands on a soft touch. But the official part ended in the daytime. They brought their loudspeakers with them, tables, and did concerts. But in 1963-64, after the official part there appeared Vasyl Stus, Ivan Drach, Mykola Vinhranovskiy, and Lina Kostenko. Obviously, Ivan Svitlychnyi was behind these happenings. He was not a famous public champion, nevertheless he handled everything. I remember exactly what he said: “Well, it’s high time to celebrate this date in earnest.” For example, Vasyl Stus speaks to the audience. Towards evening they start readings from not officially endorsed, although not banned works of Taras Shevchenko: “The Dug-up Grave” or “To the Dead and the Living…” Especially good at reciting was Petro Boyko, for which he had some trouble. He worked as a newscaster. There was also a very good reciter Kyseliov (I do not remember his name), but his forte was interpretation of Shevchenko’s poems.
We, the young people, attended all literary evenings where they gathered. It was our life. Officially, nobody banned it, and it was considered normal for the time being.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Do you mean the Creative Youth Club?
I.I.Rusyn: Right, among others it was the Creative Youth Club. But I was not a member of the Creative Youth Club. Once more, I underline that I was an ordinary engineer who became familiar with the national culture in his own way. I have to tell you: the national consciousness is like cancer. If you develop cancer, it is the end of the line. You still tread about as usual, you look upon everything as usual and then you start apprehending all of it differently whether willing or not. Later, when I had to deal with the KGB, they said, “How come?” They were surprised that a normal person suddenly became different.
At the time, in Lviv, I had an old friend Igor Kudin. In 1964, the official "Monuments Preservation Society" came in. He was its head. Then the nationally conscious intelligentsia tried to use the slightest gap to get into it and take advantage of the official position or media. As opportunity offered, they tried to officially modify the consciousness of dark masses, which lived passively. It was just kind of geometric progression: if I went to some soiree and heard someone, the next time I would bring five more friends with me. And all of these people started apprehending the world in a different way. To some extent it was an opposition to the regime. Likewise Igor Kudin instilled new apprehension of reality in me.
When the Creative Youth Club was disbanded in 1964, the intellectuals and young people began to gather around the Homin chorus. Originally Poliuh was the leader of the chorus; later they invited Leopold Yashchenko. Borys Riabokliach, son of Ivan Riabokliach, was the chorus elder; he was a very interesting person. I do not know what became of him later. He did a lot for the cause. It was necessary to have a permit for the premises. He was a member of the party. His membership was very useful: the Ukrainian-minded intellectuals sought such allegedly party people and made them top managers where s/he was of service. Those party members were called on the carpet and reprimanded. Some of them were all right again and supposedly repented and some turned in their party cards and threw their hats in the ring fighting within permissible bounds, because then no one thought that repressions would ensue. We barely knew what happened at that time in Lviv to Levko Lukyanenko, Ivan Kandyba and others. We also knew next to nothing about the repressions in the late forties and early fifties. Those in the know held their tongues overawed by their parents and relatives. So you learn and do it on the sly, do not tell it anyone.
In the case of Homin the communication occurred through songs, through the restoration of traditions. Artists Alla Horska, Viktor Zaretsky, Liudmyla Semykina, Halyna Sevruk made designs for Christmas carols and puppet show booths. Naturally, we could not go round carol-singing on Christmas, so we did it on the eve of the New Year. We tried to awaken people’s conscience. We were visiting famous artists and writers. These activities were supported by Pavlo Tychyna etc. (Rylsky was already dead), even such artists as Vasyl Kasyan. Anyway, when we came, they got rid of their usual fears. It looked like opening doors, windows to let in the light beams. It was a lucid moment for them…
But there were those who really helped us, e.g. such knights of freedom, as Borys Antonenko-Davydovych. He was not afraid of anything at all, he was willing to do anything and used every opportunity to socialize with young people because they would come up to take our place and it was sacred to him. He felt himself like an old man already and he was not so easily scared; once again I repeat that he was a knight, our foregoer so to say. He was our Moses, who knew where he led us.
About 1963 and 1964 my stories are not that informative, because there are already evidence of active people, including members of the Creative Youth Club or other representatives of the spiritual elite. Again I stress that I am an engineer and not liberal arts representant. Though the nationally conscious youth included the technical intelligentsia as well; for example, already deceased and of blessed memory Olexandr Martynenko, my later crime accomplice, Yevheniya Fedorivna Kuznetsova, chemical-process engineer, laboratory assistant or university lecturer, also a techie. And this Martynenko was a geophysicist. Engineer-geologist Volodymyr Zavoyskyy was an active member of Homin. The Homin included mostly young persons with a background in engineering who joined the chorus in 1964 and early 1965.
At those soirees, of course, not everyone could sing. Those wise managers Poliuh and, later, Leopold Yashchenko did not even hold an audition for us. They knew that people came consciously: that’s good and let them sing. They did not seek some sort of special vocal abilities.
When the rehearsal ended, serious conversations began. People became engrossed in reading popular samvydav publications. In addition to Hrushevsky we began reading Dontsov and authors, about whom the KGB had not a slightest idea and whom we distributed having typed twelve or some other number of copies. Later we started making miniature photocopies of the booklets, they were the size of 10x15 cm? For example, The Renaissance Executed by Shooting by Yuri Lavrynenko and The Contemporary Literature in the UkrSSR by Ivan Koshelivets. This marked the commencement of conscious semi-underground work. Then we started thinking, what is to be done and how to unite into a party or something. There were advocates of this way, but, thank God, such wise people as Svitlychnyi and other categorically rejected this view and kept in check our hot heads, for they knew that recently there had been a trial of Lukyanenko, Kandyba, Virun and others in Lviv. That is, they knew that the future might hold for us the same. We tried to act legally, referred to the works of Lenin and other classics of Marxism, for formally we considered the union a democratic state, especially as it was the period of Thaw. But gradually the party began to tighten nuts and bolts, especially in the last years of the reign of Khrushchev, who also began to review his supposedly democratic steps. Perhaps you remember that in Moscow he, at the meeting with creative intellectuals, already started banging his fists on the table and prohibit things. He himself already felt that, as the inmates of prison camps say, he had opened the cover of the gut-bucket, which smelled to heaven. He wanted to close it, but failed. As we know he was stripped of power and new younger and braver generation came into power. We know from history that once and again more or less democratic rulers relinquish their hold to more radical, repressive, totalitarian elements, such as Brezhnev. And in Ukraine they started to change things quickly and tighten screws. We felt that they began planting squealers in Homin and everywhere? Where three or four persons came together; everywhere you turned you saw a stoolie. All over the place the trust was replaced with secrets and distrust.
1965 came and the KGB officers and public officials embarked on offensive. Specifically, on May 22 they dispersed people and feared nothing. They drove up cars, minibuses, seized everybody and packed into paddy-wagons: young, healthy and well trained like the members of riot squad now, but then they were not called the riot militia yet. They were the KGB officers, plain as a pikestaff.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It was in 1965. And did they resort to dispersals in 1964?
I.I.Rusyn: In 1964 they did not do it in the open and contented themselves with bans. They went brutal already in 1965. In general, they issued warnings at places of employment, in educational institutions, while near the monument they began photographing the strollers. I remember they my chief, he was also a party organizer, Pustynskyy, a Jew, and said: “We know you have such Ivan Ivanovych Rusyn, so if you put him in a tight situation…” He was warned in the first department to prevent my going to the monument. He was a good man, I cannot say anything bad about him. He told me: “Ivan, what the hell you go there? So that it won’t be on your conscience I will send you on a business mission.” And be warned: mind that you will be on a business trip, because if you are in Kyiv, you will have trouble at work, we might even sack you. Such methods they used then. But in 1965 they already employed brutal methods.
I recall how they first sent their agitators among people. And it was a crowded gathering. Among them was Secretary of the CC LKU Korniyenko. He later became a party secretary either of the oblast committee or some other organization. They initiated debates proving that everything was OK in the state while we were doing wrong. There was also university philosopher, which is now busy as well, Shynkaruk; this son of a bitch was mouthing off about the marvels of Soviet power, while we were old so-and-so; he maintained that they shed blood for us defending us and gave us the possibility to learn, and we were rebelling instead of expressing gratitude. This was exactly the same Shynkaruk, I remember it exactly. And the same Korniyenko. From the University came a large group of people and it was a sort of counterpropaganda from inside. Their efforts were in vain, because we also had good discussants; then they just dispersed us… I remember there was a shorty Colonel; his name was something like Ivanov, I cannot remember for sure; I remember that he was dumpy and plump. He gained time at first, and then ordered: “Go!” And the fuzzes and the KGB officers jump from behind the bushes and began to disperse; if somebody resisted, they packed him into the paddy-wagon and on they went!
Then many people accidentally found themselves at the militia station. The militiamen recorded their personal data. In this way these people were blacklisted. I cannot say what happened to them later, though I brought with me two or three co-workers and they were blacklisted for life. Especially, Zynoviy Melnyk, who later got into a scrape…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I know Zynoviy Melnyk.
I.I.Rusyn: They torpedoed his thesis. Such snots, who were not his equals, went to the top and back-pedaled him using his scientific and technical abilities to dance backup for them. He had to leave that institute to defend his thesis. In short, if you were blacklisted, you remained stigmatized for the rest of your Soviet life. Although, we can say that nothing has changed because the same people are at the helm… Afterwards Zynovyi Vasyliovych Melnyk worked at the Institute of Land Management. He told me that the department there was headed by very chauvinistic women and when he sought to keep records in Ukrainian, he had problems; and the latter happened these days, under President Kravchuk. Things look black with all that.
But I got ahead of myself. Let’s return to 1965. In May the KGB officers made a display of power; then followed summer vacations, the people departed. And then out of the blue at five o’clock in the morning on August 28, I heard a tap at my door. And then we had a baby: Oksana, about eight months. We lived in a shared apartment: we and our neighbors had one room per family. Apparently, subject to agreement our neighbor had opened the outside door, and they were knocking on our door. We did not lock the door, so they knocked and immediately opened the door, completely by surprise. Five people burst in to carry out a search.
Clearly, we had no forbidden literature; well, they found Hrushevsky and Sofia Rusova’s memories. It looked like they found something they obviously had known about; because they had either had watched us or agreed with our neighbor: they found the typewriter, on which I and Lidiya Melnyk, current wife of Vasyl Byshovets, typed. She worked as a proofreader at the Literaturna Ukrayina and knew how to type, therefore she typed the samvydav. The samvydav typewritten documents included mainly the poems of Vasyl Symonenko, Ivan Drach, Mykola Vinhranovskiy, and a copy of an article “Regarding the Pohruzhalsky trial”. Svyatoslav Karavansky brought in an action against Minister of Education Dadenkov. It was typed on cigarette paper, up to twelve copies. They also found the used carbon paper with traces of those works. They were professionals and we were neophytes and did not hit on destroying the carbon paper. We hated to throw it away, because it was a deficit, and, can you beat that, they came and found that carbon paper and later restored which documents had been printed.
The search continued for five hours. They looked up and down, took everything away and delivered the whole load to the Oblast KGB Office on Rosa Luxemburg Street, Lypky micro-district.
I was not prepared for it. I did something, but thought that all of it was legal.
Later I learned that on the same day they arrested Olexandr Martynenko and Yevheniya Fedorivna Kuznetsova, whom I knew. On the same day they also arrested Ivan Svitlychny, Mykola Hryn, and Yaroslav Hevrych who was a student then. Later we learned that in Lviv the arrests were also made. This masterminded massive operation was carried out in August. In Ivano-Frankivsk they arrested Panas Zalyvakha and Valentyn Moroz. The questioning began, and we were not ready for it. We had no experience of underground work. That is we defended ourselves as we could. What was the defense like? At that time the Trifonov’s book went out; it was called Impatience: about Zhelyabov, Sofia Perovskaya, and about the members of the “Narodnaya Volya”. We read it and even passed from hand to hand. It narrated about the agencies of immediate inquiry, secret political police and interrogations. For us it was all theory. Nevertheless we tried to defend ourselves… “Where did you get it?”−“I do not know.” In particular, where I got the typewriter. “Well, I bought it.”−“Where did you buy it?”−“At the bazaar.”−“For how much?”−“For so much.” He wrote everything down. It’s on the first day. I said all I wanted to say, no problem. A little later they read out to me: “So you’re saying that you purchased the typewriter.”−“Yes, I’ve bought it.”−“But Martynenko says that he bought this typewriter and brought it to you.” So it was, indeed. And he typed… Then confrontations started. And it was difficult to extricate oneself from a difficult situation.
Many questions were about the “Homin”. They occasionally collected money. In particular, I remember exactly when Dziuba was ill. And the public decided to send him somewhere for treatment. The donations made 10 or 20 karbovanetses. It was normal money if salary made about 100 or 120 karbovanetses. I do not remember exactly, something was wrong with his lungs.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He had tuberculosis.
I.I.Rusyn: Anyway, they were collecting money. Why I say this? I asked this question: “Did you collect money?”−“No, did not, I took no part in this.” And a day or two later the investigator quotes that Martynenko told him that “Rusyn gave me 20 karbovanetses on such and such date, and said that it was his 10 karbovanetses and 10 from someone else”. The investigator asked me: “What do you say to that?” And what shall I say? I say that he is probably making up something. And the same Olexandr Martynenko told the truth, as it was. God knows, why he said this, but it’s is now a thing of the past. So we were not prepared for any party responsibility: as Russians put it, “every man for himself”.
And then, getting acquainted with the “case”, I learned that they followed Yevheniya, or, as she called herself, Yivha Kuznetsova at the university, because she carried out work among students. She was a friend of Martynenko and Martynenko was my buddy. So they tailed her, as they said, then Martynenko and Martynenko’s tail came upon the tracks of me. So they came to know our links, because we failed to check whether we were followed. Though I was not familiar with Kuznetsova personally and we met only later, they tied us in one and the same case and we became “partners in crime”.
Our case reached the trial in eight months in March 1966. During that investigation, as I said, everyone was for her/himself. We really were not as obvious opponents of the regime: we rather wanted to somewhat improve it. And one would not even imagine that it could be toppled. We mainly fought for Ukrainian language of instruction in schools and institute of higher education, that is, for those norms that were written down in the so-called Constitution of Ukraine, as well as some other articles about the state, about the Ukrainian mission at the United Nations. And we quoted the so-called “classics”. At that very moment two volumes of Lenin and the Ukraine came out. I remember an episode during the investigation. The investigator asked me something and I told him, “It’s a quotation from Lenin’s work…” And he exploded: “Let your Lenin…?”−“What do you mean?”−“Well, forget it.” So, you see that the paradoxes also took place? It is clear that they did not need Lenin; they wouldn’t listen to him and would not follow him. The more so they made do without the Constitution. All of it was empty blabber. Our people were simply hyped up, let this hoopla be and took no interest in the fake. Although we cannot say that at the time of the Brezhnev era people were mostly concerned with material things. We called it “sausage consciousness” at the time; though there were no sausages on sale then. It reminds of the ideals of the "Narodnaya Volya". But they obviously were conscientious objectors, they wanted to overthrow the tsar, but with us it was still a long way off.
Maybe some of us had such plans, as it turned out later: such leaders like Mykhailo Horyn or of blessed memory Vyacheslav Chornovil. Single men only. But my close environment simply wanted to legalize our language song, not to keep aloof from national traditions, because we were citizens of our state, like it was written in the Constitution at the very least.
Just not to take up a lot of your time, my dear Vasyl, I wrote about the investigation in the fifth issue of the magazine of our Association of Political Prisoners Zona. My article is titled “33, Volodymyrska Street”. I am not going to repeat it now, and everyone can read it there. I wrote these reminiscences five years ago or more, then I recollected it better. Those are pretrial recollections.
As usual in those days, it was a secretive trial. At the level of the oblast court. After all, the judges who tried our cases are still judging today, so to speak, and even run the same oblast courts, and have become the merited members of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. The investigators are also in the saddle. The KGB has given them the sack, but not for wrongdoing or criminal offences, which are triable, but simply because of retirement age. My investigator Leonid Pavlovych Berestovskyi may serve an example,.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He began conducting my case on March 5, 1973 and after a month he passed it over to another investigator, Mykola Pavlovych Tsymokha.
I.I.Rusyn: So it was with us. He arrested me. He was a crafty lieutenant at the time, not even a senior lieutenant, but simply a lieutenant: he had two stars. He bent over backwards! He was apparently a half-Jew: his face betrayed his origin. I have recently met him: he is working as a lawyer for a legal advice office. We often meet now on Zolotovoritska Street, because I live in the downtown. When I returned I used to often run into him. Now he is an ardent patriot! During the war he stayed in occupied Kyiv. We happened to meet when we commemorated Olena Teliha. We carried on a conversation, and he said that in the age of 10 or 12 years he wore a badge of trident on his chest. A peculiar individual. I asked him how about that investigation and all those things? “It was my job, just my job.” But he rose to the rank of major or lieutenant colonel; I do not know exactly because now I usually see him in the civil attire.
I have already mentioned about my peripeteia with him, and then he passed me over to another investigator from Kharkiv. It was a sort of schooling. In the sixties they trained those greyhounds, if I may use a hunting term, coming from Kharkiv, Odesa or Dnipropetrovsk. When proceedings were initiated in the seventies, they were already in all oblasts. In 1965 they were only in Kyiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lutsk, and in Zhytomyr they arrested Anatoly Shevchuk; there were no such boffins in the southern cities yet. And later they were in Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv already.
From Kharkiv they brought Borys Antonovych Kolpak. It was him whom I tried to convince that the proper Ukrainian spelling of his name was not Kolpak, but Kovpak. He agreed. He was a real fun person. The style of his protocols of investigative activity was rather poor, but I insisted on corrections for I had completed the course of Berestovsky. By the way, I was afraid of Berestovsky, because he was psychologically stronger than I. I felt so. When he asked his questions, I had got out of a scrape. When I extricated myself, he told me an anecdote… It turned out that during the face-to-face confrontations Zavoyskyy or Martynenko or Hryn told everything as it was. I couldn’t tell that they spilled the beans; they simply did not consider it illegal and gave it to him straight and one could easily notice the discord in our attestations.
And so Berestovskyi told me an anecdote: “Ivan Ivanovych, in your case it will turn out like in the case with Abram. They asked Abram, when he came with a black eye, what happened. He explained: “They wanted to kick me in the rear end, but I wiggled out and got a sock in the eye.” Well, we laughed together.
I’d like to point out that in 1965 there was no violence during interrogations, at least in Kyiv, either in my case or in the cases of other detainees. Although later, when I met Lviv detainees in Yavas, for instance, Mykhailo Osadchyi, now deceased, said that one of his investigators started belting away with his dukes and even hit him a couple of times. So he was physically intimidated. Later Osadchyi tried to bring him to justice, but they started to tear him limb from limb and didn’t allow him to go to Lviv. When he wrote his Walleye memoirs, they increased his sentence. (Mykhailo Hryhorovych Osadchyi, writer, philologist, 22.03.1936 − †05.07.1994. Imprisoned on 28.08.1965 by art.62 part 1 for 2 years; the second time in January 1972 by article 62, part 2 for 7 years and 3 years of exile, the hon. His first investigator was Major Halsky.--V.O.).
I’d also like to mention, how they played with democracy, particularly in Kyiv. At the time, the main KGB officer was Nikitchenko. He was later replaced by Fedorchuk. When we later met with Svitlychny after his release, we formed a mutual opinion that Nikitchenko was sort of liberal. At that time Shelest was still in Ukraine. I withal cannot believe my wife Zhanna, but witnesses confirmed that she indeed visited Shelest and told him that her husband was innocent and that he was a normal person; what did they arrest him for? Shelest roughly retorted that the judge would sort everything out.
There was a peculiar episode. One day we shaved, washed, dressed in clean linen and had to be taken for some conversation. It turned out that we one by one were led somewhere across the yard. There was general commotion. We entered the spacious hall or healle as they said in the past. There were tables arranged and many a men were sitting at these tables. The tables were covered with green cloth. There were both generals and civilians. They started asking everyone who served a term of imprisonment for what. There was a chief of investigation department (I do not exactly remember the names now) which reported: such-and-such. They asked me what I really did. I answered that I read Rusova and Hrushevsky: was this a crime? They wrote their works before the formation of the Soviet Union and these works of Rusova and Hrushevsky shouldn’t be considered anti-Soviet documents. And the court imputed them as anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation. And we pleaded not guilty of anti-Soviet propaganda because no one of us said at least once that we were against the Soviet regime. We were not against the Soviets; we just wanted the Soviet government to follow the articles of Constitution, and promises of Lenin in his conversations with Skrypnyk.
They did not go into details, and I did not understand why they needed it, but they apparently made an impression about us and after the end of this viewing they adjudged our cases. Maybe they realized that my case was shoddy and poorly proven, therefore I was sentenced to a year of imprisonment. Martynenko got three years and Yivha Feodorivna four years.
I recall my defense in court. I decided for some reason that I have nothing to defend myself against and refused even a lawyer. They accepted it. In the meantime Martynenko and Yevheniya Fedorivna had a peculiar defense. One of those lawyers was, apparently, drunk and shot the bull; he even shed tears appealing to the judges: you look at these young people, they are good guys, our engineers, they need mercy, well, they slipped a little bit … and he shed tears once more. After the trial we analyzed it and concluded that he might be drunk.
The second, the one that defended Yivha Fedorivna Kuznetsova, appealed to the fact that perhaps it is impossible to condemn a woman to a strict regime. Indeed, the article specifies the strict regime and a woman, he said, should not be condemned to a strict regime. He made references to codes and global humanity, but the court would not listen and condemned her to four years of strict regime. Yivha Fedorivna did her time from start to finish and was released from the zone with her health undermined. She had tender health without it, and she was already an elderly person. She hadn’t got long to live and died soon after.
Unfortunately, there is only a scarce info about such activists as Martynenko and Kuznetsova. Thank God, those, who had done their second time, made their way to deputy status, became well known and were able to use the platform and declare to the world about their actions. Nevertheless there are many, who were released with the undermined health or were intimidated. Martynenko had a family, he went somewhere, for he was not welcome in Ukraine, including Kyiv, and he worked as a geophysicist in Poltava and then had to go to Siberia. There he fell ill, and when he returned, he died in Ukraine.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When did he die?
I.I.Rusyn: Yeah, eight years ago, long ago. Today I cannot remember the very year, the funeral took place somewhere in the beginning of the state independence.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It is necessary to write about him, because what is written in the book by Chornovil Woe from Wit is insufficient, and the story ends in 1965…
I.I.Rusyn: Obviously. I’m going to write and thank you very much for your coming and encouraging me. This will give me some incentive or somehow oblige me to revive the memories of those people and give some details or, as they say, provide finishing touches to the portrait. I promise you that I will write and it will be published.
But I’d also like to tell about one more occurrence when a huge support of our activities was expressed. We were convoyed in the patrol wagon. We had no idea and suddenly we were greeted with flowers! Lina Kostenko broke through the militia cordon!
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where did this sitting of the court take place?
I.I.Rusyn: At the Oblast Court on Volodymyrska Street, former Korolenko Street…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Near Bohdan?
I.I.Rusyn: Near Bohdan Khmelnytsky, in that very house.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I was tried there as well.
I.I.Rusyn: There is a small room. They did not let anyone in; even family members were not allowed.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Do you remember the date of trial?
I.I.Rusyn: I do not remember exactly, but it took place in March 1966. We were among the first. Yaroslav Hevrych was tried first and we followed. Ivan Olexiyovych Svitlychny was released then after eight months’ imprisonment. He seems to have promised that he would not do of what he was pinned a false accusation upon. But as we know, in 1972 he was retried under same article and these 8 months were taken into account in the new term.
By the way, they put through the same with Svyatoslav Karavansky. At first he was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment, or even capital punishment, which was substituted for 25 years. We meet him in the camp. We arrived in 1966, and at the end of 1965 he was returned to the zone. Different people behaved differently in those camps. No one is a member of any political party or organization and should not carry out the orders of a leader or comply with party rules. Karavansky did his time for his former case. When we were brought into the zone in May and June 1966, the bulletin board, where they placed the militia newspaper, featured info on his case for which he did his time. He was sentenced in Odesa Oblast for alleged collaboration with the Romanian intelligence service the secret police of the Kingdom of Romania Siguranța. But in reality he was a member of a clandestine organization, member of the UIA. He was sent to Ukraine, particularly to the Odesa Oblast, because he knew the area being born there.
So, he did sixteen and a half years and made up his mind that it was senseless to do a term there without a gleam of hope. The period of camp uprisings ended… Karavansky decided to go out from there, especially since he was charged with a war crime. I will not go into details. I have no idea if he had denounced those military doings, or not; anyway, he was released 9 years ahead of his time. He returned to Odesa, graduated from Odesa University, and worked as a journalist. In particular, he wrote that “seditious” document: he sued Education Minister Dadenkov for Russification. So they arrested him and did not charge him anew, but for his disappointing KGB and party he was again cast into the Mordovian camp on the same strict regime to do remaining 9 years of imprisonment, and he served the term to the end, as we know.
So, in front of the courthouse we were greeted with flowers. They were repelled there. For us it was a great moral elevation, a huge moral support when they shouted: “We are with you!” As we later learned such actions also took place in Lviv; Chornovil was among organizers there. It was for us a great elevation.
They gave me a year, but in actual fact I had to do about three months. The prison barber said: “Probably you’ll end your term here, in this prison.” However, they decided to send me by prisoner transport elsewhere. And the prisoner transport it was. They brought us to a car. The car was full of prisoners, while we had to be transported alone. We were in the same compartment with Martynenko. Yivha Fedorivna initially stayed alone in the compartment, but then they put in more prisoners; these women might be Jehovists, because they transported them to Mordovia, where most Jehovists, Pentecostals, and anti-Soviet activists were held. In other compartments, there were 10-12 criminals per compartment. They begrudged it. My crime partner and I sat in one compartment and availed ourselves of the opportunity to put everything into place. I asked: Olexandr, why you so-and-so, and he answered: and why did you then? But we had no mutual claims.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: How long did you travel and which way?
I.I.Rusyn: We were railroaded via Kaluga…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And what about Kholodna Hora in Kharkiv?
I.I.Rusyn: No, they didn’t railroad us via Kharkiv, but via Kaluga and Penza. In Penza the prison is spacious: it was built at the time of Empress Catherine. When we were brought, the guards said, “Oh, Khokhols revisited?…” When they got us onto the train, they divided us into groups. They made us run along the ranks of security guards with dogs behind. When they reloaded us onto the patrol wagons they also made it on the run; then they brought us to a prison and packed into a common room to wait for distribution. In our files there was a red stripe: “This should be separated and this should be separated”. So we were separated once more.
They brought us to Potma and there was a narrow-gauge railroad to Yavas.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I know it very well.
I.I.Rusyn: In Potma we also waited together, but later we were separated.
But you’d better direct my story, because if I am too verbose, it will take a very long time. You already have some experience, my friend Vasyl, what shall I concentrate upon? This my yarning may be endless…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Let’s return to 1966. You say you came back in spring? Whom did you meet there? After all, you had an interesting three-month excursion to Mordovia and they showed you all hell. Was it the camp no. 11? What was the name of the settlement there?
The classic of Soviet literature wrote “My Universities”. Compared to my experience, my life, this three-month and more stay it the camp was a true university. When I left, I continued to communicate with those people.
In 1976 they sentenced me again under domestic squabbles’ article for seven years, just to drive on the last drops of fuel, as they say. My job responsibilities included continuous business trips; I was accused of overstating expenditures on artificially extended business trips and, therefore, of peculation of public money. For five years they reckoned up a miserable amount of under a thousand karbovanetses, and I was given article 84 “misappropriation” (“Misappropriation of any state or public property through acquisition, defalcation or abuse of office.”−V.O.). Then they sent me to the most severe in Ukraine zone no. 93 in Mykolayiv Oblast. By the way, later Mykola Horbal also served time there. There did their time mainly long-timers: robbers, rapists, and murderers. And they threw me into that very zone. But I will tell about it some other time.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Please, specify the date when you were sentenced for the second time.
I.I.Rusyn: In 1976, in the fall. They sentenced me to seven years. The prosecutor demanded eight, but with regard to my small children (I already had two children) they accounted for the extenuating circumstances. Obviously, it was a designer case.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: To their mind, they gave you an easy time in 1965…
I.I.Rusyn: Yes, they added seven years, because I supposedly failed to go straight. And they continued terrorizing me in the camp. Thus, to this criminal zone came to visit me high rank KGB officer from Kyiv Hanchuk, head of a department, together with chief of a department of Mykolayiv KGB Office. It was Colonel Bryk. They came to persuade me and gave me five or six newspaper with self-reproach articles. Then there was such a fashion that some persons started talking, even from the same Yavas. So, if you wrote that you “spit on the Pope” as Dmytro Pavlychko once wrote, then they let you go. They gave me one example after another. But I had certain advantages over them, saying, "Do not touch me: I broke with my shameful past ten years ago, I am not an anti-Soviet activist and I have nothing to do with the KGB. I am a criminal; I bear my cross, and, please, leave me alone.” They visited me not once; there were some reprisals against me: there is a lot more to tell about it, but nothing is of real value. Maybe sometime I’ll describe my adventures.
So, let us return to Yavas and camp no. 11. When I arrived in that zone, it was it was a novelty that a convict had such a small term. Thank God, there were already in this zone Yaroslav Hevrych and Mykhailo Ozerny from Ivano-Frankivsk: the latter, a teacher, was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, as well as Hevrych. So, they, so to say, had paved the way for us. For those prisoners who stayed in prison for 25 years (who had got capital punishment, but this sentence was substituted for 25-year terms, although the Code specified the maximum sentence of 15 years) it was rather suspicious. Some of them were arrested in 1943, other in 1944. They were mainly security service men, members of the OUN and UIA. There were also many so-called policemen. The latter became the whistle blowers. They also repaired fences and barbed wire…
And then suddenly emerges a prisoner sentenced to one year. They obviously thought that I was a planted stooge. But when Hevrych and others said that it was not a provocation, they said, “You seem to have told Khrushchev where to get off?”
But there were also very serious people who prepossessed me, in particular, the same Svyatoslav Karavansky and especially of blessed memory Mykhailo Mykhailovych Soroka. The latter was an extraordinary man. He bore resemblance to Kotsiubynsky: he had a shaved head, glasses, sedate, slow, made yoga exercises, did not drink either coffee, or tea, did not smoke. He was very respected by such security servicemen as Vasyl Pidhorodetsky or Victor Solodkyi. They were fighters in the UIA Security Service. Nobody knew how long they had to serve out the remainder of their terms. Vasyl Pidhorodetsky said: “I will do my time up to the end of Soviet power.” Such was his term and indeed they were not certain that they would be released after doing their time, because a few times they had already been sentenced anew at the very end of their terms. They also kept clear of us, because they wanted to evade any provocation.
Victor Sweet impressed on me. He said at once: “You won’t be sent to the industrial zone and join the construction gang.” I found myself under his guardianship. It turned out that he had already cared about Hevrych. Then came Mykhailo Osadchyi with two-year term; then it was easier for me to have such suspiciously short “term”. A teacher from Lutsk had an eighteen-month term; I forgot his name. (Apparently, it was Dmytro Ivashchenko.--V.O.). But he was very secretive and refrained from contacts. And then appeared Panas Zalyvakha with a five-year term.
I’m generally a sociable and optimistic person. In the worst situations I tried to smile. They, by the way, were always infuriated, especially during the investigation. If they asked something, I told that it was a trifle which took place a long time ago; the investigator grew indignant: “All the time you turn everything into a trifle!” I didn’t take it to heart: such was my character. I tried to become good friends with those camp people, for me they were very interesting. And they, for their part, treated it not as a provocation but a coincidence (as they say, it was a system failure in KGB mechanism). They tried to instruct me or maybe just to pass certain information to the outside. Such was my “re-education”. It happened, but not as the KGB wanted.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: When more of the banned information will be accumulated
I.I.Rusyn: Right. Mykhailo Mykhailovych Soroka deserves a detailed mention.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Tell us, please. He was really an exceptional person. Everybody speaks about him in superlatives.
I.I.Rusyn: First of all, with me he didn’t go into details of the case and didn’t resort to any agitation. How did I meet him? After occasional greetings I asked him politely: “Mykhailo Mykhailovych, when does your term end?" He asked me: “Ivan, and how old are you?” I diffidently answer that I was born in 1937. He said: “I have been doing my time here ever since 1937.” The meaningful pause followed, and then he told that the Poles imprisoned him in 1937 , the Polish Defensywa. His two-year term he did in Bereza Kartuska. The Bolshevik liberators freed him in 1939. He then married Kateryna Zarytska; she delivered a baby boy Bohdan, who is now a known painter or graphic artist living in Lviv. In 1940 they jailed him there and Kateryna Zarytska took cover for a long time. In particular, she directed the work of the Red Cross in the UIA. At the very end she was arrested as a result of provocation. So she did her time in one corner, and he did it in another corner of the Gulag. At that time I was 28 or 29 years old, then from 1937 to 1966 his period of imprisonment totaled up to thirty years.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Later both of them did their terms in the zone no. 17. There male and female zones were separated there. Sometimes he even saw his wife: there was a sort of gap in the fence.
I.I.Rusyn: Very much so, because there was such a gap in the zone no. 11 as well. This I saw when they brought Daniel and Sinyavsky. No, only Daniel, for Sinyavsky they transported to the camp no. 7. Daniel was a very interesting and authoritative man. He was often visited by his friends, including Larisa Bogoraz, his wife. They managed to climb to the top of the house, where the fence was lower than the two-story barrack, and from the roof of the barrack they could well see their guests. It seems they could exchange words there.
What else can I say? I was obviously lucky: it was the year of 1966 and the regime was still relatively liberal. You could receive parcels from home: fat, tea and coffee. Later, as I learned, they began to “tighten the nuts”.
By the way, the name of the camp commander was Ioffe, probably a Jew. He was not a cruel man and whip-cracker. He said: “The main thing is to maintain the regime.” And the regime is also a relative notion which is prone to changes. It changed with the change of the top brass.
Later, Mykhailo Mykhailovych Soroka told me about his life. He didn’t enlarge on it otherwise one should have listened to him every day: the story of so many years! I remember how he told about his travels outside the camp when they brought him by air or railroaded him to Ukraine, dress up like a landlord and drove to the enterprises, collective farms, and theaters. People thought that he was an American guest. They showed him everything: demonstration farms or plants; he had to look and see for himself that everything was really great while he did not want to repent and say that “life was beautiful, sure thing”. If he had written a statement of repentance, as some activists did, that he had given a second thought to it and regretted and condemned, he would have been released. But, you see, he do not disavow. But this does not mean that he, like Vasyl Pidhorodetsky was always tuned aggressively under all circumstances. You should have met him in the camp.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I did not meet him in the camp, but at large.
I.I.Rusyn: Now his health and spirit have given out … it’s only natural at his time of life. (Pidhorodetsky Vasyl Volodymyrovych, b. 19.10.1925 in the Village of Krushelnytsia, Lviv Oblast. Insurgent. Arrested in February 1953, sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment, 5 years of exile and 5 years of deprivation of civil rights. For organizing strikes he was sentenced again to 25 years of imprisonment. Was highly respected by political prisoners. Released on 29.03.1981; tried two times “for violating passport regulations”. On the whole he spent in captivity 32 years. Died in Lviv on August 20, 2005). All of it leaves its imprint on a man; the hardships of camp life worry the life out. He had to fare hard and to work hard.
I remember a stand-alone story about his relationships with his son. Mykhailo regretted that he and his son Bohdan, who as a kid was brought twice to visit him, failed to get along. Now Bohdan Soroka is certainly a conscious person. But the father said that he could not reach an understanding with his son, who was a student raised by his grandfather and grandmother, known academics and mathematicians Zarytskys. This is a very difficult question. I remember how my mother always reminded my daughter that she should keep low and hold her peace. This is understandable: when parents were imprisoned, this guy could not show some kind of excessive activity. It is now, for example, the son of Vasyl Stus or the son of Chornovil actively passes on the lamp of their fathers. At the same time we see that the son of Zaretsky and Alla Horska is not a rebel, he is not a revolutionary, but an ordinary man, because he was also brought up by his grandfather when his parents actively fought for the independence of Ukraine. His mother was killed and his father was repressed, separate from active life and opportunity to realize himself in public. They say that in recent years he was working in solitude. And the grandfather brought up Oles a decent citizen. Such is the history of people.
But again, let’s go back to the zone. In the zone, all my partners in conversation knew that I was about to be released and tried to convey me their problems, their thoughts, some ideas they wanted me to bring over to the free world, because no one was sure whether he would ever be discharged. Well, many of them came out as the same Stepan Soroka, who got there as a young boy and spent there 25 years, or, for example, artist Roman Duzhynsky, who did his term of 25 years and lives in Lviv now. Many prisoners sentenced to 25-year terms still had to see the end of their times. Mykhailo Lutsyk was a very interesting person, or, for example, (I forgot the name) one of leading Belarusian activists. He had an interesting library. I told you already that at the time there was a liberal regime which even permitted to collect personal library.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Belarusian activist? You mean Vostrikov?
I.I.Rusyn: He was older, but the most active, the most famous among Belarusians. There also were many activists of other nationalities: Armenians, Georgians and Lithuanians. But I wasn’t in touch with them because I was short of time. I was literally crowded for time and sought to help at least our people to pass on some info, to memorize something, because I couldn’t jot it down. I had to continuously repeat it.
There is an interesting detail. Now do not recall who exactly had a “History” manual for the sixth grade. In full awareness and confidence he contoured on the school maps the imaginary borders of Ukraine: the whole Caucasus, Stavropol and up north to Moscow and part of Belarus. That was his idea, which he nurtured in himself in all seriousness.
Or, for example, Mykhailo Lutsyk… I cannot remember exactly and it’s only my guess now. He knew that I was a builder, and he incubated an idea that allegedly Skrypnyk was a friend of Lenin. And it would seem that Lenin promised Skrypnyk to make Ukraine independent. But he did not know how to prove it to the public? And he came up with a vision: somewhere in Kyiv an excavator destroys an old building and they find… a turn-up for the book! Well, naive people, perhaps, they read too much stories about musketeers or the Secrets Parisian Palace… He says that they will unearth a bottle with the text. There should be a live coverage of the event. Inside the bottle there should be almost an autographed Lenin’s letter to Skrypnyk proving that Lenin really was for independence and his followers simply misrepresented his words. This is similar to the denunciation by Peter the Great of the treaty of Bohdan Khmelnytsky with Aleksei. And such stories in all seriousness these people tried to pass on through me. There were many other interesting things. By the way, upon his release this Mykhailo Lutsyk was a candidate for the Presidency and went about gathering signature sheets; then it was not necessary as it is now to secure a million signatures. This is was during the first presidential elections.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So you knew these “camp academics”? Founts of wisdom! Though everything was in a happy-go-lucky fashion. And everybody had a sack of printed matter.
I.I.Rusyn: Among Russians there was Belov (it seems, that was his name was), resident of Leningrad. Among Baltic prisoners there was Knuts Skuyeniks, famous Lithuanian poet. We were friends. He was released before me. I then went to see him in Savalspils. By the way, he translated Lesia Ukrayinka into Lithuanian language.
It happened 30 years ago… Every prisoner there was a personality. Say, there was a Georgian general… you must have heard about him… Sometime in 1957 or 1958 there was a riot of students in Tbilisi. When Stalin was thrown out of mausoleum, they revolted against the decision. In Stalin’s time Georgians were in the service only in Georgia. He was a commandant of Tbilisi. I’ll later remember what his name was. When it was necessary to break up this revolt, he did not give the order to shoot at the students. Then from Moscow the authorities sent a detachment that arrested him, disarmed the Tbilisi garrison and dispersed the students’ demonstration. Therefore, the general was given 15 years and he died in the camp. He was there - who do you think? - senior orderly. I do not know what happened later, but there was no reason to treat him contemptuously at the time. Later, when I was in the zone no. 93, the orderly was necessarily an authorized operative, main official stoolie, or kum. At the time this oldie distributed and settled in barracks. He was an old man, but there were many old people at the time.
One of them (we met in a halting place in Penza), Ivanov, who also pretended to be a general or colonel of Vlasov’s army. The last name Ivanov was popular in Moscow, and he said that he was the brother of the Moscow Commandant Ivanov. Nobody knows the truth, but he maintained that he had been arrested in Paris restaurant after the war. He was wanted on the telephone, he went to answer the call, and they grabbed him, tied up, packed into a car and brought to the embassy.
In short, every man was a personality there, a story of life. One could write novels after their adventures or legends. It is a pity that many of them were never released. The term was very big, very heavy conditions and only single people managed to survive for 25 years there. This zone dwells in my memory. These were real accelerated university classes.
A very interesting thing: I am about to be released, and I feel like I have not learned everything, I feel that time flies, I need a little more time. Panas Zalyvakha often refers to these feelings at various events but never quotes me. He says that there was a man that was about to be released, but he was not happy about it. He does not name me, only casts a look at me. So I was a funny guy.
There was a stadium, a place to walk and meet people after work: if you had time, you could meet there. During those strolls everyone could express his reasoning. There was no eavesdropping as I was told later. Were you in the no. 11?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: No, I was not there. But then the camps were indeed reserves of the freedom of speech.
I.I.Rusyn: My story about the zone no. 11 may be continued, but I also can make a long story short. I would like to share a few fragments which I keep in mind.
At the time Ivan Drach was a famous poet. Maybe he was not an idol, but some of his poems were in samvydav circulation and they were read at soirees. At the time his poem, maybe “The Death of Shevchenko” was published in Vitchyzna Magazine. And now we learned from the newspapers brought by the zemliachky. The zemliachky was the spoken name for the KGB operatives from Ukraine, who occasionally came to the zone and talked with us to get to know whether we had recovered our sight, whether we had grown up enough to write a penitential letter and “to be released with a clear conscience”. Results were nil. They usually failed to get any change from us, though they brought us the newspapers. And suddenly we came across an info that Ivan Drach in the company of Dmytro Pavlychko and someone else were going to a session of the United Nations. And what is more he scribbled an article describing that he was a representative of the sovereign people of a sovereign state… Well, he intended to fool the world that supposedly Ukraine was a truly sovereign state! He joined that company of swindlers! In fact, it was a sad blow to us. We were wondering how this man could touch bottom. This happened nearer to my release. And so at the meeting we decided to write an open letter to Drach. About all our draftees and other famous people signed the letter. We expressed our strongly-worded protest. At this point in time I cannot remember the exact wording. I had to send the letter to Drach.
As I mentioned, all of it happened during liberal times. One could bring something to the outside world. In this way I took away my portrait made by Panas Zalyvakha and something else.
I arrived in Kyiv and found his address. He lived in one-roomed apartment near the Pechersky Market. The area has been re-developed and I do not know, if the apartment house is still there. I came, introduced myself, and told him that I knew him since 1962, when I attended his soiree. He was then a student. The literary evening in Zhovtnevy Palace featured Yevtushenko and Maya Krystalinskaya. And Yevtushenko boosted Ivan Drach, which was at that time unknown to the public. Yevtushenko read his Russian translation of the poem “Sunflower” by Drach. And after the burst of applause Yevtushenko shouted to the audience: “Ivan, are you there? Respond!” Drach bent forward from the gallery, from the third or second balcony, waving: “Here I am” Then he went on stage and also recited something. An interesting acquaintance it really was.
I was not personally prejudiced against him, but I already had the investigation experience behind me and knew that not everything needs to be spoken aloud or on the phone. I suggested him to go for a stroll: “Can we go out somewhere, I will tell you something that is not written here.” And Drach answered, “Well, I don’t give a damn about anything, let them listen.” And he waved his hand that he was not afraid. Well, I told him what they told about him in the zone. He said: “I reckon I committed no betrayal at all.”
I did not intend to convince him or re-educate him; my role was to hand him a letter from those people who considered him as a like-minded person, maybe even a friend, they were extremely disappointed, surprised, puzzled and couldn’t grasp what had happened to Drach and why he had changed his position. He made no special excuses and conversation failed. I fulfilled my part, handed him a letter and departed.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: And how did you manage to take that letter away? Was it signed?
I.I.Rusyn: I cannot remember the details right now…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, was it written on paper or you simply memorized it?
I.I.Rusyn: It was written on paper. But my memory is elusive. They didn’t roust the released persons that much at the time. I had an errand to Svitlychny, to Dziuba, even Kostenko expressing support for them.
When we were in the zone there, they published a small book of poems by Vasyl Symonenko in a red jacket. Nadiya Svitlychna copies of the book to almost every one of us. There were 17 or even 20 of us and we all got it, with autographs. The camp regime at the time permitted to receive small parcels, and we were very grateful to Nadiya, whom we treated with great reverence; for us she was an authority… well, not as a sister, but rather like mother and guardian. She tried her best to organize sending something to the convicts, because they were single people, especially Olexandr Martynenko. Back home, in the village he had an old mother, he was lonely and there was nobody to send him a parcel. She was a great help to us. We cherished those little red books and tried to learn by heart poems by Symonenko.
Until now I haven’t mentioned the Creative Youth Club, because I was not a member of it. But I will tell you about one of the organizers…He was a person of historic dimensions: Erast Volodymyrovych Biniashevsky. We met in the spring of 1965. He attended the Zhaivoronok Chorus. He was always very impressive, with bow tie, tall. A very interesting man. Anyway, he impressed me a lot. However, the rumors circulated that everyone should keep an eye out for him and he allegedly was a KGB major or captain. I did not go into the details and did not verify the rumors, because I was not on friendly terms with him. I remember one evening in the Composers’ Association. We went out and talked and express regret at Russification and other topical news… And he especially in communicating with strangers liked to make an impression. He said: “Guys!” And he was a head taller than we. “You make too much ado about this language issue. Try and go to Motovylivka: no Russian is spoken there, only Ukrainian.” So do not despair, all is not lost, be optimistic.
In the camp I often talked about him with Hevrych. This was when we discussing about the investigation and materials of the “cases”. We knew that he was allegedly a KGB officer. Say, during an investigation they began asking who gave this or that material. The most common answer was: Biniashevsky did. And the most interesting thing is that he never figured in concrete cases. There existed a rule: if a name was mentioned, e.g. Biniashevsky, the person involved should have been questioned and gone thru an identification lineup, though in fact this did not happen. Later I learned that they did question him. But these materials were never filed because the investigators knew about his reputation as a KGB officer. They laughed at those evidences. But apart from that he was a known orthopedist and a respected man.
When I returned, I was not planning to meet him. But someone needed a hard-to-get medication. If I don’t miss my guess the father of Oleksandra Hromova, our underground activist, fell seriously ill. He always came to help as he was always well connected. I turned to him for old times’ sake. I already was supposedly well known for I was the first to be imprisoned in the camp and was the first to return thence. So it happened. Willy-nilly I became known in 1966 - 1967. Well, I went to him, we talked about the past, and he spoke in a roundabout way about being also interrogated. I remember someone in the camp said that he was caught up with a bag full of underground literature while traveling by steamer to or from Kaniv. Maybe, it was Bohdan Horyn. He was asked whose was this bag and he answered that it was not his but Biniashevsky’s. It was told in the camp as a fact. And here Biniashevsky told me about it almost in despair. He was a great artist. His conveyance was always affecting and he sounded forced: “Ivan, you cannot imagine my disappointment…” That man was really his friend, and suddenly he was summoned to the KGB and they told him that the person was testifying against him, that these banned materials were his. He said: “I had no idea of it and they incriminated me this bag and asked if it was mine.” Allegedly there was a confrontation.
I’ve mentioned it because it’s a well-tested KGB method. If there’s nothing to be gained by a man, they pretend not to notice him. But this Erast Biniashevsky deserves respect. He did a lot in the propaganda business. I do not think he was a KGB officer. And Hevrych told me how they put him off the bus from Kosovo to a village. He said they stopped the bus, the door opens, and a captain got on the bus… well, captain bore a great resemblance to Biniashevsky! This captain was his look-alike. Biniashevsky himself told me (and they were friends with Hevrych, he was also a doctor) that the KGB used it to discredit him because he was the organizer of Creative Youth Club or one of the organizers. He was always eager to join the club activities, but as far as everybody was prejudiced against him as a KGB officer, everyone tried and stood apart from him. Erast Volodymyrovych tragically died about two years ago. He, incidentally, was the author of the first catalog of Ukrainian Easter eggs.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I think I knew him; I have even his phone number.
I.I.Rusyn: He was one of the leading specialists of the Institute of Orthopedics. These are the finishing touches to the portrait.
What else can be said about the people I knew at the time? We must try and remember, my friend.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: So you sit down and try to remember. Many a man is dead and buried and you should write about them.
I.I.Rusyn: It is necessary to recall and write down. Indeed, there were many activists, who later stepped aside for various reasons. During the investigation they were witnessing, and they morally felt guilty that they we were imprisoned and they were not. Though they might have done a lot more and were more worthy of imprisonment. You know, there still will be scientific theses dedicated to these activists involved in the awakening of the nation and then they were summoned as witnesses. And then those who had served their times became heroes, and these remained at the margins of historical wave. Morally they felt bad, they could no longer continue to claim some leadership, and during the formation of our state in the nineties they stood on the side, they gave way to those who returned with classic epaulettes of prisoners, so to speak. If you ask me, such is my opinion.
So I did my one-year term. Although I was arrested on August 28 and the 28th fell on Sunday I was released a day earlier, on August 27, 1966. They sent me under guard to Potma; in Potma I was given a passport and 25 karbovanetses for expenditure on road. I went by passing train to Moscow and from Moscow I had to go to Ukraine. I was the first such traveler, for later they did not allowed going to Kyiv. Maybe because my period made just one year, and maybe because for pioneers everything settles one way or another. Anyway, I was given a letter of referral to Kyiv; I could go to my wife and try to get a job.
In Moscow, I also had some assignments either written or oral to Larisa Bogoraz from Yuliy Daniel. They greeted me joyfully and made inquiries. By the way, I read there that book, for which Daniel was imprisoned for five years. I wouldn’t say there something anti-Soviet in it; though it was rather interesting at the time. I just cannot remember the title of this small book of collected stories. I do not know whether it is possible to read it now, but I remember the novelette entitled “The Hands”. What was the point of the story? Somewhere in the resort rests a venerable man, whose hands always shake. Another guest, maybe the author, asks the old man, why he had this disease. He is not very old, but his hands are shaking. He says that somewhere in the early twenties, he worked for the GPU. His daily job responsibilities consisted in shooting prisoners. At night he was shooting and at daytime he was sleeping. And so the guys, his fellow-executioners, decided to play a trick on him. They charged his 10-round rifle with blank ammo. Sure, they played a nasty trick on him. In the meantime he has to shoot a priest. They brought this priest, a white-haired old man. The executioner takes an aim and the priest anathemizes him… The executioner fires but the priest walks toward him. He fires again - bang, bang! – but the priest does not fall down and with the same anathema approaches him. The executioner goes under, losses consciousness and falls down. They brought the guy to his senses and he was treated in the hospital for a long time; and now, he says, everything is fine, but his hands are shaking. This is an interesting novelette. But I will not go into detail upon this book.
In Moscow, where I stayed a bit, they helped me to book a ticket and I went to Kyiv. I came home. Of course, my family, my wife enjoyed my return. And my mother lived with us at the time. My kiddy was eight-month old when I was sentenced and now she was almost two years old and began more or less to understand the Dad.
I went to my old job, to the design institute. I was hired because it was the end of relative residual “thaw” period, as I mentioned. Even Yakiv Pustynsky, party organizer, a Jew, who was also the head of the department, did not object. Anyway, I was employed. However, with only one restriction: I had no security clearance, because as a land surveyor I had to deal with coordinates. I worked, went on business trips, and had positive references. I’m not a humanitarian scientist, my job is to operate theodolite and run across the field. There is nothing out of the way to it: the main thing is not to drink too much horilka. The director was a nice guy, although he was Russian, Melnikov, but with understanding, a democrat in contemporary language, because at the time they did not use such words as democrat. He was just a normal person, as if it was not concern of his. People also said, “Well, his one-year term is a child’s-play. He has no links with the underground and he has only his stupidity to blame.” The more so, they searched my workplace and found nothing in my table.
Although there were witnesses against me from my work. Such one Kavunenko, whom I reproached for sending his son to the Russian school, “Mykola, you’re Ukrainian, why don’t you wish to send your kid to Ukrainian school?” He was older than I, a war vet. He then said nothing, but when the KGB officer asked, he testified that I reproached him for sending his son to Russian and not Ukrainian school.
Another witness against me was Mykola Todor, a Bulgarian. During a smoke break, in the hallway, it seems at lunch time, it was the Shevchenkiana period, which I have already mentioned, we talked about Khmelnytsky. I quoted from Shevchenko “If thou, my drunken Bohdan…" and some other places from the “Dug-Up Grave.” Therefore, when the investigating KGB officer asked, he gave it to him straight that I was against Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Unification Agreement, which he had signed with Muscovy, which meant that I was a nationalist and stood for independent Ukraine. When he testified at the trial that, I asked him: “Mykola, were it really my words? I only quoted Shevchenko to you. Those are words written by Shevchenko.” It seemed that the court would take it into consideration, but the court stuck to its guns and the judicial opinion read that those were my words. The article stipulated punishment for verbal agitation, production, storage and dissemination of anti-Soviet literature.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: That was article 62, part 1: “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”.
I.I.Rusyn: Yes, article 62, and it met the case: production because they found a typewriter, storage because they found samvydav, distribution because some friends said they obtained this samvydav from me, oral propaganda because I said this and that at my job.
So I worked in 1968, 1969 and 1970. And then the tragic event with Alla Horska occurred…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did you take part in samvydav production and circulation?
I.I.Rusyn: To some extent, yes. I had a lot of samvydav publications. You cannot say that in 1968 people were intimidated by our arrests. And those people remained behind bars. Something was passed on, copied, circulated, but I was not actively engaged in it, because, you know, they let me to return to Kyiv and placed me under supervision. Otherwise they could make me criminally responsible under second part of article 62.
At that time I had a close relationship with Svitlychny. I was well acquainted with Irpin poets and translators Hryhoriy Kochur and Dmytro Palamarchuk. For the first time I met them still before my arrest. I was on a business mission in Irpin; they planned to construct a regional party committee building or something in the city center. The building site concerned bordered on the plot of land belonging to Dmytro Palamarchuk, who was already famous for his translations of “Sonnets” by Shakespeare. Once during a smoke break I talked with my worker in Ukrainian. At that time it sounded strange: suddenly some “intellectual”, not a writer or expert in humanities, speaks Ukrainian. He heard it and it intrigued him. We fell into talk and then became friends. Later, as it became known, was involved in the making of seditious photocopies. From him I learned about Karavansky. Both of them graduated from the same Odesa University and did their terms together: Karavansky and Dmytro Palamarchuk. He gave me these photocopies; I distributed them, even sold for ten karbovanetses per copy because we had to cover the cost of production. During the investigation they confiscated these booklets from someone and he said that he got them from me, but I strongly objected. So this was one of the unexplained episodes.
And then recently I have told about the origin of that seditious literature for the first time. There was a presentation of a book of poetry of Dmytro Khomych or Homovych Palamarchuk. I as his longtime acquaintance appeared and, so to say, “exposed” him: “Here is one of the old-time anti-Soviets who made seditious literature. I mean Dmytro Khomovych Palamarchuk, who was hiding behind Lenin.” There was a monument to Lenin in the center of Irpin, and his homestead was located behind Lenin. This is an answer to your question whether I was involved in the samvydav activity.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Right, I know this place.
I.I.Rusyn: The community, which came to greet him, caught at the fact that he was not only a poet and translator, but also an underground samvydav activist. I wish he were alive: he was a very interesting man who consciously worked for Ukraine, its independence. Poet and Citizen.
And with Horska I was on friendly terms. I remember one occurrence. I do not remember whether it was a birthday party or some other opportunity in the fall. At Ivan Svitlychny’s apartment. There were only a few people: Ivan, his wife Liolia, Horska, professor and chemist Henrikh Dvorko and me, even my Zhanna was absent. Alla, and it happened a week or two weeks before her assassination, was kind of nervous, even incursive. As it became known later she had a sort of signals or what… Someone called her ... There was this version, I do not know the details, but the people who killed her forewarn her, or even gained access to her. There was something in it. And then the funeral. Everyone who spoke at the funeral was lagged soon.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Do you remember who spoke at the funeral?
I.I.Rusyn: I remember Dziuba made a speech, Sverstiuk made a speech…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It seems Ivan Gel delivered a speech? And what about Oles Serhiyenko?
I.I.Rusyn: Oh yeah, by the way, Olexandr Serhiyenko made a very emotional speech, and Zinoviy Antoniuk performed… Subsequently all, virtually everyone who spoke… their speeches were carefully recorded… all of them were arrested by the KGB and sentenced to the maximum under article 62.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: A little over a year passed.
I.I.Rusyn: I want to tell a little more about the arrests in January 1972. By the way, I had a great adventure at the time. Then I was on a business trip in Boryspil and called to Zhanna; she said that someone called her, maybe Liolia Svitlychna, and told that the arrests were underway. So I called from there: “What’s up there?” I went back by bus; I went off the bus… We then lived in Rusanivka. If you go on foot, you pass by Sverstiuk’s apartment house. I decided to drop in. I went in and saw that he was seriously ill, the temperature near 40 degrees. His wife wasn’t at home, only his in-law. He said that the KGB officers had just left; they came to make the all-day search but supposedly took pity on him because of high temperature; they decided not to grab him this time and promised to return “tomorrow”. An interesting detail.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: He was arrested on January 14.
I.I.Rusyn: Well, anyway, I saw it with my own eyes. Everything was so scattered, as if the stormy wind blew inside the house. He told me that they found a program, but he did not read it. So they must have planted it there themselves, because a person was ill, and they searched. He was not present during the search. And he had a large library; you just try to find it. One was digging somewhere: “Oh, I’ve got it!" – Just some thing. Later we learned that it was a “program” written by a Ruban.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Oh, yes. “The program of U-Communists”. The Ukrainian communists. The author was Vasyl Ruban.
I.I.Rusyn: I then did not go home but went to Pliushch. We were neighbors with Leonid Pliushch there in Rusanivka; you obviously know that there was such physicist and mathematician.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yeah, I know.
I.I.Rusyn: He lived four houses down the street. I went to his home and said, “They performed a search at Sverstiuk’s apartment and will obviously arrest him tomorrow.” And he told me: “But I have nothing to fear, I have nothing.” He supposedly had no nationalist seditious literature. At the time he actively communicated with the old Bolshies from Uman.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Was Nadiya Surovtseva an old Bolshevik? There was also her camp friend Olytska.
I.I.Rusyn: Surovtseva, right, he communicated with them… His wife was a Jew. I cannot say that he was a nationalist. Rather an all-union democrat.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: At the time he really was a sort of an all-union democrat.
I.I.Rusyn: Oh, the democrat he was indeed. Or maybe a liberal. Sometimes he attended the soirees, but did not take the floor. But we talked with him, because we were neighbors. I told him all this. There was nothing more during this soiree.
The next day I came back from Boryspil and saw, as a coincidence, how they escorted Sverstiuk onto the street. A car drove up. Two officers were on both sides of him and one in front of him opened the door. I was the last one out of prison to tell him hello and goodbye. They did not know who I was, because they concentrated on him. So I was the only one who saw how they took Sverstiuk by the arms and packed him in the car. Well, I quickly went away intending to make a brief visit to Leonid Pliushch because he was, as he said, a “blatant anti-Soviet.” Only his anti-Sovietism was simply democratic rather than nationalistic with which we were accused. I went to him: there was a phone at the street-door. I called and some stranger answered the phone: “Who’s speaking?” I said, “I want to speak to Leonid.”−“Who’s speaking?” Well, I hung up… Again, I threw in two kopecks and dial and again the same guy answered. I then came out of the house, looked around and sighted two cars… There was a bright light in the windows of the apartment and strange guys were walking on the balcony… I went back home. I was about to call home from the grocery store and ask my wife what was boiling. But in front of the grocery store two strappers took me by the arms and started pulling to a car. The car drove up; I resisted to get free and shouted: “Help! Robbers!”
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Was it on January 14? For Sverstiuk was arrested on January 14.
I.I.Rusyn: Yes, the same evening he was arrested, and then I was also packed into a car. I resisted with force, somehow. It is not easy to cram a normal person into a car: either a head impedes or legs; you need either to stun a man or somehow tie him and throw in. I lost my glasses. They were shoving me in but my leg impeded. I wanted very much to warn someone. A girl was passing by, I cried “Girl, Girl!” Well, the child thought perhaps that they were packing a drunkard. Then a bloke ran up: “What are you doing?” He scattered them: “What’s wrong?” I said, “They grabbed me…”−“Whom to notify?”−“Twenty slash one, apartment 48.”−“Telling what?”−“Tell on the street.”−“Anything else?”−“Nothing but that they grabbed me.” He fussed about and was supposedly outraged while they shut the door and drove me away.
So we started moving. They brought me to 33, Volodymyrska Street, the same familiar corridors. Some blokes were pottering about there. I was shoved into a room and left alone. A few minutes later entered an operative and we had a talk. It seems, I was a bit tipsy then… My son was born a month ago and just before this adventure I met my friend, physicist Viktor Mykolayovych Malynok, you may have heard about him. We drank fifty or a hundred grams of cognac, so I was under the influence. So I behaved rather independently and then came my former investigator Kolpak. We had a talk. He boasted that he had moved ahead with Danylo Shumuk to the fullest. Five hours went by and nobody asked me a single question; only a supervising officer kept me company. I said, “I am hungry.” I had gastritis. He made a call. They brought me a sandwich and some mineral water…
I used my head to get home. I thought about their conducting a search at my apartment. I said: “But without me they won’t find anything there: I have cashed everything.” He was all ears. I said: “I have a hiding-place.” He asked, “Will you show?”−“Well, it is clear that I would show if I were there.” Immediately he made a call: “Ivan Ivanovych says he has a hiding-place there and he can show.” The smarties came running: a commanding shorty and another one. Well, in short, they put me in the car and headed for my house. I was in a cheerful mood and said, “All the same your number goes up. If there were another guy you would have failed to pack me in the car. You saw the man, who scattered your mob.” A man in a deerskin cap in the front seat turned to me and said: “It was I.” I looked narrowly and indeed it was that same bastard. Moreover, later it turned out that he was the Chief of the Darnytsia KGB; his last name was also Ruban. He summoned me for conversation many times later in time. He had been already a come-on back in 1966, when came to see us in Yavas. At the time Ruban was an operative who rose to the rank of the Regional Chief of KGB.
In short, they brought me to my front door, Ruban and I took the elevator to my eighth floor while officers that were on both sides of me ran up ahead of the elevator. We stepped out on the eighth floor, and they descended one floor down. They let me pass to my apartment expecting that I would start bringing out the forbidden materials. I entered and my mother and my wife with tears threw their arms round my neck: they thought… But I asked in a business-like tone: “Zhanna, where are those hidden materials?” She was very quick to grasp and played up to me, “I burned them.” I said, “Oh, how could you let me down! Those serious guys expected…” She said: “I had no idea.” In the meantime I changed my clothes, took warm clothes because I thought that they would send me up to the maximum degree possible. I even put on my knee-high boots. In the meantime my mother asked: “But where do they take you? Why?" And cried. Well, Zhanna latched on to my game. Then I stepped out into the hallway and told my “cronies”: “Sorry, guys, it’s not my fault…” They looked at one another. I said: “Well, let’s go.” I do not know whether it was a spontaneous decision, but the chief officer suddenly said, “You may stay at home all night, and tomorrow come at 10:00.”
On the following day I went there. I saw Halyna Sevruk sitting on a bench, father away there was Liudmyla Semykina: they were summoned as witnesses for those who had been arrested. The officers started chinning: did you know Svitlychny or whether you know this or that. They went on with this for three days. They said: “We ask you about non-disclosure of these talks.” But I thought a bit and decided to stop informal talks? Officially I’m on a business trip; at my job they were obviously informed that I was implicated in it. I have nothing to hide. I demanded, “Please, serve a summons on it, so I could officially report because I’m on a piecework wage.” He was surprised by this statement, became angry, but still gave me a summons notice and wrote that I was in such-a-days and in such hours in the KGB. At the end of our meeting he warned: “Well, we’ll meet with you again.”
I continued to work at the design institute. Most of the time I was on business trips. Of course, they under this Ruban followed me until 1976. As I later learned, when they imprisoned me, there was some action underway followed with arrests. They pinned on me criminal articles for alleged use of my official position for private gain. They gave me then seven years and I did the term from start to finish in the camp of tight security which was much stricter than that in Yavas^ it was in Mykolayiv zone; Novodanylivka, zone no. 93, in comparison with the zone in Yavas is like the difference between the general regime and tight one. The conditions of detention there were extremely harsh: one visit per annum, and a parcel. In short, it was a real high security zone.
Although, as my Yavas camp friends told, just a year later, when Osadchyi was released, he told, especially when Zalyvakha returned after five years, he looked really bad and told that, compared to how it was when I did my time, the regime changed a lot. And then I heard your remembrances about Perm camps when they finished with liberalism and returned to the previous system. They even interrogated in another way: they were ashamed no longer and stoke their all.
Maybe you want something to be rendered more precise?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: No doubt, this was an era: to serve seven years in the criminal zone. It might be interesting to know about ways there. But since we are short of time now, please, carry through your story. When were you released?
I.I.Rusyn: There is an interesting detail. When I was first released in 1966, I could not complain like the people who worked as psychologists, philosophers, journalists, teachers, that they were not given the opportunity to work. I was a technician, so the KGB officers did not mind, obviously, when I was at work; apparently the consulted concerning my employment and concluded that I was a good specialist and decided to let me work.
But, again, about the regime. I remember how Martynenko returned from there in three years, and then he was not allowed to go to Kyiv. And he had the right of permanent residence in Kyiv. Hevrych also was not allowed to go to Kyiv. He solicited a new assignment for himself in Brovary. But when he came to Brovary, they didn’t want to register him there. He had big problems and had to go to Russia. He was arrested in his third year of medical institute. Once he told me that Daniel helped him to be reinstated as the fourth year student somewhere in Smolensk and he was certified as a health care professional there, because in Ukraine it was impossible. So he told me that in Brovary he conversed with the militia chief in the following way: “I was given an assignment here, so what? I will file a complaint against you!” At first the chief tried to converse with him, but then told just where to get off: “Out with you! Nuts to you with your law! I’ll give you what for and your own mother won’t recognize you!” He turned him out, and he could not settle in Brovary ever since. They also did not let him to go to his native heath (he was born in Kosiv) and he settled somewhere in Svaliava in Transcarpathian Oblast. He works as a dentist.
What else can I say? Afterwards my life was connected with the construction again. I cannot complain that I was pressed or not allowed to work. The engineers and person with a background in engineering mostly are not interested in national issues. “You work and mind your own business.” When I was released from the camp after the second seven-year term I couldn’t fill a position of an engineer but, as they say in Russia, “I learned the second trade” and started as a joiner and concrete worker of the second category and later obtained as a result of service the qualification of mounter of the steel reinforced concrete structures. Therefore my subsequent life was associated with the construction.
Thank God, my children obtained the good education.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: It seems you mentioned Oksana?
I.I.Rusyn: My daughter Oksana and my son Ivan.
V.V.Ovsiyenko Oksana was born in 196…
I.I.Rusyn: 1964 and Ivan in 1971. Oksana has graduated from the university and defended her thesis; she is a biophysicist. My son has graduated from the medical institute and is engaged in scientific research. My wife and I are retirees; we have two grandsons, children of my son and my daughter.
There is another interesting detail. During the first democratic elections, many of my friends and associates offered me stand in elections because it was a kind of fashion at the time; I have already mentioned that Mykhailo Lutsyk was nominated as a presidential candidate…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: They wanted to appoint you a deputy or nominate as a presidential candidate?
I.I.Rusyn: The deputy. At the time almost everyone who did his time enthusiastically took the habit to become a Verkhovna Rada or city deputy. I have a wise wife… Bearing in mind that these elections is a struggle with all sorts of dirt, I might have to prove that I was unjustly imprisoned for the second time. There is a saying here in the western regions: “Don’t go showboating!” So Zhanna convinced me not to. Because not everyone can or should be a senator, somebody has to build…
V.V.Ovsiyenko: There are still people that speak about Chornovil as a rapist.
I.I.Rusyn: Yes, I remember this story. By the way, during the first presidential elections, I was accidentally on a business trip in Zhytomyr. There were instances of hunger strikes, tents out there on the streets, it was cool. Not like in Kyiv, when in those years they attained the fall of Masol. Although there were also such slogans as: “Down with Masol and Kravchuk!” Masol stepped down, while Kravchuk maintained an overall grip on power. There was a Chornobyl vet on strike. And then two chatters said about Chornovil: “You know: he raped a teenager.” They said that at some pre-election campaign he admitted this and said that he did it as a young man, and therefore that was nothing but a trifle. I could not stand it and seized that villain by the scruff of the neck, "You, bloody rascal!" Then he went back on his word. But it was good that they were only one or two such retirees there. Probably, they were deserved KGB officers repeating this piece of scandal. But it had some effect, especially in those oblasts, whether we like it or not.
Well, let’s call it a day now. Thank you for your time. These recollections may be useful for because I am still a witness. I will mule over the ways of telling about the criminal zone, because our publishers bring out the memoirs of a criminal prison, but he is Russian, not Ukrainian. He tells cock-and-bull stories, and seemingly well-known directors shoot movies about the "zone". And when you see that movie, you understand that it is clearly some crock having nothing in common with the reality. Just rubbish. Have you seen it?
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes. But, alas, my time is up. I hope we’ll meet again. Thank you.
I.I.Rusyn: We’ll sure meet. I think I need to collect my thoughts. When you’re writing you look before you leap… My memoirs in the fifth issue of "Zone" are not very perfect; they contain many mistakes, literary phrases, because word-of-mouth stories are not my strong point.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: I am interested in your relationship with Karavansky, it’s a separate story.
I.I.Rusyn: It’s a sort of mutual respect. By the way, I’ve missed one interesting detail. This is one of our ugly traits. All prisoners in our zone were sentenced under article 62, nevertheless people from Naddniprianshchyna and Halychyna failed to find a common language.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, in my time we had an absolute mutual understanding.
I.I.Rusyn: Maybe, but in my time it happened that Karavansky announced a hunger strike and, apparently, everybody should have supported it, but they preferred to get together and take counsel. I acted the part of mediator, for I was born in Halychyna, but I am a Kyivite already. The same about Martynenko and Osadchyi. At the same time the residents of Lviv failed to find a common language with people from Naddniprianshchyna.
V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, now we finish it, because they will not let me in the subway.
 The number of copies depended on the quality of paper on which the text was typed, and specifications of a typewriter. The samvydav texts were usually typed on cigarette paper: a small portable typewriter permitted to type a readable text on a stack of eight pages, and the big professional typewriter permitted to make up to twelve readable copies (translator’s note).
 In fact, it was a security office usually headed by a sekretchik, a KGB officer on active duty or retired, which depended on the status of the organization (translator’s note).
 That is Taras Shevchenko monument in the Shevchenko Park, Kyiv (translator’s note).
 Volodymyr Shynkaruk died in 2001. Among Shynkaruk’s merits one should remember, in particular, the activity of quite controversial at the time departments of aesthetics and sociology. With his assistance a group of scientists were engaged in phenomenology studies. His journal Scientific Thought contributed to the development of philosophical thought in Ukraine. At the same time in many questions of communist ideology he really defended reactionary positions that later affected the quality of Philosophical Dictionary edited by him (translator’s note).
 In fact Shynkaruk was not called up during the WWII (translator’s note).
 Maxim Gorky published My Universities (third part of the trilogy) after the February Revolution in Russia (translator’s note).
 Borys Bryk was sent to Mykolayiv from Kyiv. He was upgraded to the rank of senior officer after arrests in Kyiv (translator’s note).
 Defensywa is an informal word for the Second Department of the General Headquarters of the Polish Army (translator’s note).
 Knuts Skujenieks (born September 5, 1936 in Riga) is a Latvian poet, journalist, and translator from fifteen European languages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knuts_Skujenieks (translator’s note).
 Probably Salaspils (translator’s note).
 Rather into Latvian (translator’s note).
 Stalin’s body was carried out of the Lenin’s Mausoleum in the small hours of November 1, 1961 (translator’s note).
 Ukrainian prison slang for: prison officer listening to information given by squealers (translator’s note).
 The creation of the Creative Youth Club was initiated by the Ukrainian republican Komsomol, personally by the Central Committee Secretary Tamara Hlavak. The spearhead group included a number of young artists under Les Taniuk. Among the founders was well-known intellectual Mykola Sheyko, later he was driven out of Ukraine. It should be also taken into account that the Club with an office at the Zhovtnevy Palace and the Club at the Suchasnyk House of Culture were ideologically two different clubs under different managers (translator’s note).
 Rusyn is sadly mistaken: there exists an extensive bibliography of works on pysankas or Easter eggs in Ukraine. The last manuscript work on the theory of Ukrainian pysankas was an album which Alla Horska showed me long before Erast Biniashevsky appeared on the horizon (translator’s note).
 Erast Biniashevsky was a Candidate of Medical Sciences and Scientific Secretary of the Scientific Center of Physics of the Living Matter and Microwave Resonance Therapy VIDHUK http://www.dnipro-ukr.com.ua/premii_view-62.html. One more version on Biniashevsky see http://muza.in.ua/skrinya/976-stanislav-vishenskijj.-pislja-pristrastejj-i.html (translator’s note).
 The State Political Directorate (also translated as the State Political Administration) was the intelligence service and secret police of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from February 6, 1922 to December 29, 1922 and the Soviet Union from December 29, 1922 until November 15th, 1923. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Political_Directorate
 Alla Horska, artist, one of the leading figures of the sixties. B. 18.09.1929. Assassinated 28.11.1970 in Vasylkiv Town, Kyiv Oblast. The body with signs of struggle was found in the cellar a few days later. The funeral that took place on 7.12.1970 on Berkovetsky Cemetery in Kyiv transformed into a protest rally.--V.O.
 The left-bank micro-district in Kyiv (translator’s note).
 Danylo Lavrentiyovych Shumuk, b. 1914. Spent 5 years in Polish prisons and six months in a German concentration camp. In 1944 sentenced to death which was mitigated to 25-year imprisonment. Released in 1969; new imprisonment in 1972-1988. The total term of deprivation of liberty: 42 years 6 months and 7 days of incarceration, including 5 years of exile. UHG member. Lived in Canada; since 2002 resided at his daughter’s home in the Donetsk Oblast. Died in Chervonoarmiysk on 21.05.2004.--V.O.