MYKHAILENKO Hanna Vasylivna
V. V. Ovsiyenko: We interview Mrs. Hanna Mykhailenko in Odesa on February 10, 2001. Mrs. Olga Kovalchuk is present during the interview. Vasyl Ovsiyenko is recording.
H. V. Myhailenko: I am Hanna Vasylivna Mykhailenko, née Smoliy. I was born in the village of Mykhnevets, Turka Powiat, Lviv Voivodship on April 30, 1929. According to the new administrative division it is Strilkivskyy Region, Lviv Oblast. Poland established control over my village in 1950: Stalin exchange these territories due to the fact that there was an armed resistance movement, and the Poles exchanged oil fields for coal mines in Rava Ruska.
I was born into a large family. There were seven children. My father was Vasyl Hryhorovych Smoliy, my mother was Hanna Fedorivna Smoliy, née Lamanets. My father died very early, in 1936. In that year I became a first-grader. My father knew three Rs, like his brother Mykola Smoliy, self-taught. In the Austrian army my father was promoted to the rank of sergeant major. He fought on the Italian front and was later redeployed to the Austro-Russian front and fought against Cavalry General Brusilov. They were sieged in the Przemyśl stronghold, cut off water and food supply and by hunger were forced to surrender. So my father fell into Russian captivity and found himself in the Central Asia. He was released due to the revolution. It’s about my parents.
We were left without a father in 1936. Most children were little kids and my mother led a wretched life with us. We worked hard on land: we had 12 hectares of land and it was difficult for us to till the earth. We had a worn-out horse, two cows, a pig, but we had to work hard. My oldest sister, Mariya, sisters Kateryna, Olga, Paraska, Nastasiya, and brother Yosyp. My brother Mykhailo died at an early age and I do not remember him. My sisters Kateryna, Mariya and Olga are no more, and only sister Paraska still lives in the Village of Ahafiyivka, Liubashivka Region, and Odesa Oblast.
We were brought up in the not very wealthy family, though nationally conscious. Our father was engaged in social activities reading books to people who came to us. Even before the WWI my father ran a little tavern, where people could come, drink a glass of liquor, have a talk, because all three Jews-innkeepers in the village made drunkards of local people, put their property on the block and people were forced to emigrate. The village council resolved that my father should open a tavern, where nobody would cheat people and where the proprietor would let the debtor to repay debt when the latter would have enough money. Such was the concept. During the WWI everything went to rack and ruin. It couldn’t be made up for. My father did not live up to see the Soviet era; otherwise he would definitely have died in prison somewhere.
Uncle Mykola Smoliy was a volunteer of Ukrainian Halychyna Army. He was among four volunteers from our village who joined the UHA and he fought on the fronts. My uncle was interned in Czechoslovakia in 1921. He returned, endure the punishment in the German concentration camps, he also did a term in the Soviet concentration camps. He had incurable cancer and died in the Village of Ahafiyivka.
My family always participated in the resistance movement. We opposed both Polish occupation and Jewish exploitation. In the village we had a great chorus, well known through the neighborhood, we had a “Prosvita” reading room and a large library. The builders of the “Prosvita” House worked on the on a cost-free basis, I still remember it. They produced plays there, gave concerts, delivered papers; often there were dancing parties, there were good musicians, violinists and drummers. There were no drunks, no thieves in the village, before the WWII no one in the village stole or drank heavily. There was a church and the priest maintained discipline and public morality, and it was good.
Our troubles began with the advent of the Soviet regime. I remember very well: in 1939 they came and all at once the goods disappeared from the shops. One couldn’t buy cloth or sweets: the shelves of the shops were bare. The incoming frontiersmen made us happy for the time being: they brought printed cotton and corn grits. People were happy to buy even this because they were running out of stock.
The arrests began. In 1940 my brother Yosyp was arrested. He was born in 1919, and now he lives in the town of Dolyna, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, 1 Kotliarevsky Street. My brother with a group of other armed young people tried to cross the Soviet-German border. Unfortunately, a provocateur betrayed them and the border guards met them there. Pavlo Smoliy blasted himself with a grenade not to fall into the hands of oppressors, while others were arrested. My brother got 6 or 8-year-term: I do not remember exactly now. After imprisonment, when the so-called Great Patriotic War broke out, he was released from prison as a Polish citizen according to the agreement with Poland. He was mobilized to work in the pits in Kazakhstan; he worked in the Karaganda basin. In 1946, he returned home. When he came back, we had one search after another search. They wanted to catch my sister Kateryna for her participation in the UIA guerrilla movement; these pursuers were after me as well. Somebody squealed that during the war, I collected a lot of weapons and buried it. They dug over the entire kitchen garden, searched the house and turned everything upside-down. They found no weapons, failed to find it, though there were weapons. There is still a carbine buried in the boundary path, and buried ammunition. But they are probably worthless now because they are buried in Poland.
When brother Yosyp came, we did not have even bread. He came late in the evening, it was cold, after the search the things were broken down and scattered, and he took a loaf of brown bread out of his bag. We ate it instantly, because we were very hungry.
I managed to escape. I fled to another region and went to Nyzhnioustrytsia high school. I managed to leave this school in 1950.
V.O.: And in what year did you go to school?
H.M.: I went to this school in 1947. There were times when I famished for three days running. It was in 1946-47, terrible famine, terrible food, food rationing, there was nobody to help me; from time to time I went home, grind some grain with the help of millstones, bake bread, and carry it on my shoulders; there was nothing but bread, except for a couple of eggs. Thus, I lived from hand to mouth and studied and there were times when I famished for three days running.
When I went to school the KGB officers began to haunt me. What was the reason? For a long time our grade opposed joining the Young Communist League. They explained it as a result of my agitation. The KGB officers began dragging me to their office and they were about to arrest me. Once they did arrest me and escorted me to Drohobych. There I spent three days under investigation. They did not give me anything to eat, I was very hungry. I didn’t own up to anything and the investigator released me. It was around 1949. I was initially kept in the Nyzhnioustrytska prison in bullpen. For a short time. They arrested me, say, in the evening and took away around late at night. It was the Brygidki prison. There are two doors that open. There are very long lines with parcels. So on the one side and on the other side there is a narrow passage, and when I was passing them, the people asked, “Wherefrom? Wherefrom?” The KGB officers shouted “Silence!”, but I said that from Ustryk and all everybody heard.
They led me to the investigation department, where I was kept and interrogated. They released me after three days without documents. They did not hand me documents. It was impossible to reach the destination because the stamp in my passport read: “borderline zone -2”. Nobody wanted to give me a lift and at the CP all cars were checked by border guards. I couldn’t board a train without a ticket and couldn’t get on without a passport with the zone stamp. I hardly managed to pass round the CP, the truck waited for me there (our people) and took me to Sambir. There was a train Sambir--Ustryk. But again they did not allow me in without a passport. I managed just before the departure to sneak into the car--I was nimble—past the border guard, I jumped in and while they rushed, I mixed with people and the train departed. But on the way the border guards checked passports again in every car. When it turned out that I had no passport, they locked me in the compartment and took to the Ustryk frontier post. They had to take me to the KGB, but I did not worry, since the KGB officers knew why I was arrested. But they failed to take me there. It was about 08:00 p.m., it was dark. I asked them to let me go out to relieve myself. The comfort station was nearby, I knew very well, because not far off there was the school where I had studied. In the lav one could climb over the wall to the other side. They let me, I entered the lav, quickly climbed over the wall to the other side and was at home, that is in my room. I lodged at the apartment of one teacher. They searched for me, searched, and apparently failed to find. The next day I went to school, however, I fell asleep in the classroom, because I was very tired and did not eat for three days. Such was my adventure.
In 1950 I graduated from the high school. By order of the KGB they did not issue me the high school diploma. After my numerous complaints they issued it to me only in the fall. There was such hugger-mugger. In 1951 I went to the Lviv Teachers’ Institute of Foreign Languages. At the time, they resettled our village, our regions under the agreement with Poland of June 30, 1949 on the exchange of territories. All villages were already in the process of resettling. My mother and my sisters went in the fall of 1950, and I stayed behind, because I had to enter the institute. In May 1951, having descended from the train, I went to take exams at the institute without a single textbook, without anything. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Kyslitsyna, Russian, examined me in Ukrainian language. I knew the language quite well. I got a ticket “The unstressed vowels”. I knew a little of something, but I did not really pay attention to this rule, and I got a poor for the oral exam. The written exam succored me, because I got good for my written work, so I got an average of three out of five. I got excellent for the German language, four for history and geography, and four for the Russian language, too. So, I entered the Lviv Institute of Foreign Languages, the Faculty of English. At school I studied German, and I was an excellent pupil for my progress in German language. Not a straight-A pupil. Anyway I had a good school leaving certificate despite all those circumstances.
I graduated from the Institute in 1955. We were already resettled to the Odesa Oblast, and I had to go over to instruction by correspondence. We settled in Ahafiyivka. They gave us clay khatas, terribly cold, unfinished. There was nothing to eat; in order to get a written permit for a pood of grain we had to sign the acceptance certificate and state that the khatas were complete and very good. If they wanted to survive, the resettlers had to sign. Many people died there. Our family resettlers to the Village of Ahafiyivka, Liubashivka Region, Odesa Oblast, included my mother, Smoliy Hanna Fedorivna, born in 1888, sister Olga and sister Paraska. I arrived when I had switched to the correspondence department. I took a job at school where I taught German. Since I knew German well, then my lessons were frequented, I was often checked and … praised.
But as the resettlers from Western Ukraine, we immediately came under surveillance. I attracted particular attention: obviously some documents from Western Ukraine were forwarded to a new address. The KGB officers wasted no time and arrived to talk with me. Obviously, they order the school administration to supervise my work. They watched and squealed and in 1958 I even was summoned for check to Odesa KGB. I spent a week with my investigators who discussed with me whether I could bring up Soviet children. At the end of these conversations I was received by KGB General Anatoly Ivanovych Kuvarzin who treated me very kindly and said, “We have run a background check on you and concluded that you may bring up Soviet children. But, please, tell me, what did happen there in the Western Ukraine? Did you work with the Banderovetses?” I answered: “Have mercy on me, Anatoly Ivanovych, I was a child.”—“Oh, we know how good scouts these kids were!” Even during the current perestroika they persecute us, dissidents; they told me once and again: “You’re a special-service agent.”
My mother died in the Ahafiyivka Village in 1979. She was 90 and more already. And I already pledged not to leave the jurisdiction pending trial. They had already cooked the second criminal case against me. The first one was cooked concerning my first school in Odesa, where I worked (in 1964 I moved to work in Odesa). Here, from 1977 to 1980, they framed three criminal cases against me. They wanted to imprison me at all costs! But at first they fabricated cases by ordinary articles.
But now I have to return to the earlier days in the past. I taught German language in the Ahafiyivka Village. In 1955 I graduated from the English Faculty and was placed on a job in Tsebrykove Region; I worked there at the Tsybuliv school. And then I moved to Izmail together with another teacher. In Iznail during 3-4 years I taught English at a boarding school no. 1 and was there a tutor. In 1964 I moved to Odesa. It was hard to get a school job in Odesa, there were 3000 unemployed teachers. So I hardly managed to get a job as an instructor in a dorm for young workers of the 1st bus fleet; it was responsible for the passenger transportation in Odesa. There I worked with people, tried to find conscious people.
In 1968 there emerged a situation as follows. The drivers were on the housing list. The issue of housing could be solved, but the administration did not want to tackle it. The Jews in the management kept stealing without a break, built nothing and didn’t put the drivers on the housing list, they even avoided giving family dorms for those in need. The drivers were filled with indignation and instructed me to go about it. I talked with all top managers but still they did not give rooms in the family dorms; instead they said: “Let them earn it.” Then we decided as follows: we re-elected the dorm council and elected new and pretty reliable guys. The newly elected council was headed by Victor Zherdytsky, if I am not confusing anything. We quietly agreed that the administration would be confronted with the accomplished fact: the guys would lead women, friends would help each other to yield a point and all of them would occupy the dorm by force.
There were two dormitories: on Tereshkova and Krasnov streets. I agreed with them: as far as I worked on the Tereshkova Street, it should be taken by women, and boys would go to the dorm on the Krasnov Street.
The dorm supervisor was a Jewish woman. She informed the administration of the bus fleet, and the guys were evicted from the dorm. Women were also expelled. The militia was called and complaints were submitted to the public prosecutor’s office (you or they? - Ed.), and they tried to force the women out of the dorm. They refused to register them. However, there existed the law that when a person worked, s/he could not be expelled from the dorm. Yet they were trying to move people to another dorm. The women were permitted to stay and the drivers had to move. We met, took counsel: “We go on strike. Who’s against?” Nobody voted against.
It was in summer 1968. We had to put one bus across the exit gates. We intended to break the windows in the buses of strikebreakers. All of us agreed and we went on strike. But at night one such Perepelytsia, Moldovan, still alive KGB stoolie, member of the CPSU, squealed up the line. All urban authorities, even oblast ones, came running. They called forth a general meeting. For several days the top managers were walking unshaven. The oblast party committee and Kyiv authorities were informed. At the time the drivers in Mykolayiv and Kherson also went on strike. They searched the pockets of drivers to find the hoarded money. They marked the money with phosphorus and thus tried to jail the drivers.
In our case it didn’t come to the push, though it caused a stir. We have ensured that they would not be moved. We laid down conditions as follows: you do not move drivers, make the family dorm, or we go on strike. They did not evict women and made a family dorm.
Secretary of the Party Organization Romanenko referring to the report of the dorm supervisor Shkrynychenko, a Jew, and trade union came to the common conclusion that I was the instigator. And they decided to fire me. But there were no grounds for my dismissal from work, because I worked well. In fact, they praised my work. So they decided to dismiss me from work on the reduction-in-force grounds. But how to carry out the reduction in force, if there is only one instructor? While about it they sacked several charwomen having promised to re-employ them later: their only real wish was to fire the instructor.
I was fired at order and the trade union Okayed it. I went to court. You should have seen how my drivers came together to defend me in court! These record-setters in communist work productivity, members of the dorm board, team leaders and all respected people. Judge Lebedev (they said he was a former KGB officer) three times postponed the court hearing, summoned all the bosses, put them in the dock: all Jewish muzzles. The people’s assessors were two women. During the break the guys came up to the people’s assessors and said: “Girls, if you have that our instructor… For the Jews want to gobble her.” You should have seen that spectacle! In fact, both the judge and people’s assessors attacked the bosses; they took them off and pulled apart… I was reinstated. I had a lawyer. After the court session I was met with flowers. All top managers received strict reprimand with entry in personal records.
Well, I couldn’t stay there for a long time. I managed to get a job of the translator of technical literature at the Sklomash Institute. It is a design institute in Odesa. It was located on the 1 Prymorsky Boulevard.
V.O.: In what year did it take place?
H.M.: I gave up my job in winter 1968, and went to work at the Sklomash. For four years I worked as a technical translator. For me it was essentially a new job, because I was not an engineer, but I did my best to master the subject. There were many Jews who treated us, Ukrainians, very badly, nagged at us and persecuted. In the common room there worked a lot of people, and the Jews played dirty tricks on the personnel. We had a spring door there. Each time the Jews went to the phone the door sounded bang-bang! Back-bang! And so all day long. The Sheeneys never shut the door as humans do it. Day by day I used to ask them: “Oh, please, close the door quietly, I’m working here.” I have a difficult work to do translating foreign patents, articles from technical journals. It was very difficult. Instead they went on playing mean tricks on me. They couldn’t find fault with my work though. Even in the Moscow institute Steklomash they knew that there was a good translator in Odesa.
They tried to dismiss me from work on the reduction-in-force grounds in 1972 or 1971. I went to Moscow to Director Orlov and asked: “Why do you fire me? They refer to your order.” He looked at me, “I do know that we have an expert translator there.” I said: “Those are intrigues of the Jewish clique. They force Ukrainians to leave and replace them with their people.” He said, “I do not even remember, they slipped furtively to me the draft order with a bunch of documents. I signed without going into the heart of the matter. Well, I’ll make it hot for them! I know this clique, I know how they survive! I know how they issue a wolf’s ticket with which a person becomes jobless.” I told him about Jewish fiddle and racket. “Go back to Odesa and go on working.” The false order was repealed and I was reinstated in my former job.
But after came Dina Mohylnytska. I met her sometime in May 1970. She invited me to school no. 1 on the Frunze Street. She taught there Ukrainian language then. Mohylnytska took me to the library (she initially worked in the library). She said that was a very large debt, many books were on loan, but she would help to collect them. So, we made a friendly bargain.
I understood that she was a patriot. The Mohylnytskys participated in various cultural events. When the touring folk chorus came to our city, they attended the concerts. I was pleased that they were Ukrainians and helped them in every way. Even when they were kicked out of the apartment, I sheltered them in my lodging. What is the purpose of my story? Later, when action was taken against me in 1979, Dina Petrivna Mohylnytska (the wife of the brother of Halyna Anatoliyivna Mohylnytska, now head of the Udovenko’s Odesa People’s Movement) was the key witness against me. She told that I collected money for the persecuted, that I would like to separate Ukraine. And all sorts of nonsense that should not have been told in public.
So I had a criminal case. It was cooked in my first school in the past. First, there was a matter of books on loan, but the children brought books back and I put them into place. Then the party committee decided to initiate a criminal case against me, because I allegedly beat children. I worked in the library, I had terrible asthma. The children sat beside me as chickens, especially the small ones. Why would I beat children? Dina Petrivna Mohylnytska organized against me seven eight-graders as witnesses whom I allegedly beat. And during five years no one knew about it. I beat them secretly. Is this even possible? The investigation lasted for six months. But the case was included in the amnesty. The Odesa oblast public prosecutor’s office rescued me. They were very unhappy that the KGB officers cooked such a case. In the prosecutor’s office they said that there were no formal components of a crime, and there was a strong pressure from above. I wrote them complaints against the KGB. They insisted on being given my criminal case and finally played for time until the amnesty. They failed to jail me at the time.
At that time I already participated in the human rights movement. They had already jailed Nina Strokata, Olexa Riznykiv, and Olexa Prytyka, and we created a human rights group. Here, Halyna Mohylnytska, Mariya Ovdiyenko and I were preparing documents to protect Olexa and Nina; we kept working all night and in the morning we were already at the entrance to the courtroom, but we were not allowed inside. We were crying loudly to let them know that we were there. They were kept in the militia wagon.
Later there was the case of Leonid Tymchuk. Throughout the year he was jailed twice in ordinary cases to take away his apartment. They usually jail in the first place and then cook a case. We came to his help and prevented ungrounded imprisonment of Tymchuk. Thirty of us we present at the Tymchuk’s trial.
Next followed the case of Vasyl Barladianu. From the case of Barladianu they singled out the case incriminating all three of us: Hanna Holumbiyevska, Olena Danielian (she is in America now, in Boston, she is half-Armenian, half-Jew, a very good girl, and she is engaged in journalism now) and me. Against those two they failed to cook anything, but they got down to me in real earnest, so that it was impossible to walk down the street. All kinds of provocations, searches of the apartment… So my affairs were as rotten as could be.
I met Nina Antonivna before her trial in 1971. How did we meet? My sister Kateryna Vasylivna Hrytsyk, which had been just released from prison (she did 10 years for the UIA), listened to the radio Svoboda, Voice of America and told me once and again: “Sister, there, in Odesa, there lives one such Strokatova Nina Antonivna, they are telling about her all the time. Please, find and help her. My God, these are still such people in Odesa. Are there really such people in Odesa? She protects her husband, Karavansky, he is in jail.”
I spent a lot of time looking for Nina Antonivna, could not find her. They said that she worked somewhere in the lab. But in the medical school each department has its labs. All my inquiries led nowhere. And then in 1971, the Znamia Kommunizma Daily published an article “With whom are you at last, Strokatova?” Then I learned that she worked in the central lab. It wasn’t that easy to find the central lab. At long last I found her at the medical school on 9, Belinsky Street. There I met Nina Antonivna. I did my best to help her, we wrote petitions arguing in favor of Karavansky, mailed various post-cards, prepared different broadcasts, and even prepared a parcel for Svitlychny. There was also a Lviv artist whom I sent a couple of parcels; she did her term of exile in the Urals, I forgot her name.
V.O.: Maybe Stefaniya Shabatura?
H.K.: Right, Shabatura, a nice woman. Nina Antonivna acquainted me with Oksana Yakivna in Kyiv, the head of the Helsinki Group. Already the whole group was imprisoned. Oles Berdnyk ran it, though in fact he could not manage it. His family was starving and his child Romashechka, she was four years old then, looked like a 30-year adult woman. She was terribly sad, and she had the eyes of an old woman. It was very hard to see that morally tortured child. And they were all hungry. At the time they dwelled in the apartment of Rayisa and Mykola Rudenko.
When I met Oksana Yakivna I began going there.
I appealed against my criminal case to the Central Committee complaining of prosecution, searches, attacks on the street, and all sorts of provocations. The CC did not want to reckon with my documents. Then Oksana Yakivna advised me to contact Ivan Fedorovych Drach. Drach received me at his home. He could get into the office of Shcherbytsky. I showed him the record of the search featuring the confiscation of the book of Oles Honchar The Cathedral, even “Who Lives Well in the Rus Land?”, some other books, which should not have been seized. Drach promised to go to Shcherbytsky. He asked to call him in a week. I called him. He said: “Nothing could be done.” But he probably said this for security reasons. Probably he did go to Shcherbytsky, for some time later a Commission went to Odesa to verify complaints of working people. It was a secret commission; I was not called for, but the militia investigators of Illichivsk Region quietly advised me: “Go to the commission staying now at the city militia department and talk with them.” I looked for them but did not find. Still, very soon the dismissals from work followed: Public Prosecutor of Illichivsk Region Hloba, Second Secretary of the Communist Party Committee of Illichivsk District of Odesa Sorokina, director of the school where I worked, Nikolenko. All of them had participated on cooking charges against me. I’ve already said that I was granted amnesty and therefore I managed to avoid imprisonment. This case was opened in 1977. The second one followed in 1979. In 1980 was the third one.
Obviously, the committee talked with the KGB and told them, “If there are grounds for prosecution by the 62nd article “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”, then you bring an accusation on the merits, rather than arrange all sorts of provocations that are not legitimate.” Then the KGB officers followed the advice. They took away all my complaints. And at the time I edited for Oksana Yakivna the materials of the Helsinki Group in Kyiv. Oksana Yakivna was under fire, surveillance was the strictest possible. She took me in Kyiv to all dissidents and asked to record everything. Several times they tried to beat me on the street.
It so happened that a package of 19 or 21 documents got into the KGB’s hands. Once the KGB officers removed the courier off the train when she went to Moscow (Oksana Yakivna sent a woman). Another time they found a package of documents in a park near the Shevchenko University in Kyiv. Allegedly those documents were kept in a toys box. Students Oleg Mykhailovych Sereda, who lived on the Chekisty Street, reported to the KGB that he had found such and such documents. They expertised the documents and somewhere in April 1978 they already knew that it was my handwriting. Now they brought a criminal charge against me.
I met Oksana Yakivna in 1978. She looked narrowly at me, familiarized herself with my writings and myself. She was a meticulous and kind hostess (laughs), but told to everyone: “She is a good writer.” I recorded everything, where she took me. I came to Kyiv, edited all materials which she had. The KGB gave the command to prevent my going away from the office, tie up on weekends, they took me off the train, but I still managed to go and edit those materials. Oksana Yakivna was so closely surveyed that it was impossible to take those documents away. She said that out of the materials of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group she had already prepared related stories for 18 issues of the “Chronicle of Current Events” published in Moscow.
Oksana Yakivna invited me to join the UHG. I said: “Oksana Yakivna, they still handle my case and therefore they can jail me any moment now.” She looked at me reproachfully and said: “Why are all of you so afraid? And what about me?” Then I started crying and said, “I agree. But I will help you informally; I’ll be an unannounced member of the Group.” She gave me a typewriter (it is now in Kyiv in possession of Proniuk.
Oksana Yakivna gave me the full list of the then 16 members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and told me to prepare all the materials in Odesa and to sign all documents with the names of all these group members, as they had given their written permission. We wrote an appeal to Hryhorenko, who was at the time a foreign representative of the group abroad. We received many materials about our courts. In Kyiv, There was judge Dyshel: we had a satirical article on him. In short, there was a great many materials.
But the KGB had already understood that I had dealings with the Helsinki Group, and if in Odesa there would be a Helsinki Group, they would be called to account. They had already decided to arrest me. Moreover, they decided to remove me physically. Two times the criminals burst into my apartment. Once, a drunk hard core criminal broke into my apartment. He met my lodgers on the street and acted in collusion with them…
V.O.: Did it happen here?
H.M.: In this apartment, on the other half. He had already found his way into the kitchen. When I chopped wood in the yard, he ran after me, blocked the door with his foot and did not let me to slam the door shut. I struggled with him for a long time using boiling water and my ax. But he went on blocking the door with his foot, dodged, and I could not drive him off. He was terribly drunk. I managed to jump into my room and lock the door. He tried to pull the key out with a knife, but he failed because I kept the key. I turned to the girl, my lodger, who was present in the room, and said, “Lidiya, you keep the key, and I will climb through the vent sash and immediately call the militia.” He did not know that I had no vents and I could not climb out, he thought that it was truth and fled.
Since he did not kill me, so the second time two men came up to the gate about 01:00 a.m. They knew what window to tap at (my neighbor’s). My neighbor got up and looked, “Who do you want?”—“Hanna.”—“We have two Hannas. Which one do you need?”—“The one in the eighth apartment.” His car was parked in the yard; he was a Jew (already deceased). He was afraid that they would steal and take apart his car. He might and might not let them in the gate, I do not know, because he did not care. But he looked at them and said, does not welcome the likes of you.” And shut the gates. Thus, they failed to kill me again.
They lay in wait for me on the street, in the evenings the militia helpers assaulted my apartment in order to arrange provocation and initiate ordinary proceedings against me. It was a real nightmare. I could not cross the street. When all these tricks failed, they searched my apartment and took away the documents. As far as these were the materials of the Helsinki group, they filed a suit against me under article 62.
On February 20, 1980, at seven o’clock in the morning they had been waiting for me outside. They arrested me, made a search of the apartment and in the evening brought to the KGB. There, two prosecutors had been waiting for me already: First Deputy of the Oblast Prosecutor for the KGB cases Huzeyenko, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Sadikova and senior investigator Gradzhan, investigator Mereshko and someone else, I do not remember.
They offered me to repent. I said, “What? If I repent I’ll be made a laughing-stock. There can be no question of repentance!” The prosecutor said: “You will spend this night here.” In this way he comforted me. I spent many nights in the KGB jail; in fact I spent here the whole year. They said: “We have conclusive evidence.” They stayed in contact with Kyiv and Lviv, questioned 63 witnesses, 13 of them agreed to give evidence against me, including Dina Petrivna Mohylnytska.
At first their team included three investigators, and then six. Five or six. What did they do, all those investigators? Some of them worked here, and other investigators worked, where I had worked, in order to dig some dirt on me.
There were manuscripts with revisions by Oksana Yakivna, there were other materials. “Who gave you these materials, where and what?” they questioned. When I could not explain so that they let me alone, I said, “I refuse to answer this question. I will tell you about nobody, but myself. This is my condition.”—“And we reckoned that you would not testify at all,” he prompted me. This means that if I do not furnish evidence at all, then they would lock me up in the mental hospital. I said, “No, I will certainly furnish evidence concerning me. “Right you are, this is in your best Interest.” Well, who would have thought it possible? They went about my best interest…
The investigation lasted for three months. They pressed for hard evidence. Twice I went on a hunger strike, when they planted a chain-smoker in my cell, and she tormented me with excessive smoking and all sorts of provocations. They tried to make me answer “yes” or “no”, tried to make me quit commenting the protocol in writing, because the prosecutor would admonish them. After I refused to testify. It happened twice during the week. They brought me in: “Will you testify?”—“No, I will not. Or I will only on condition that I will answer questions as I see fit, and not as you dictate: yes or no.” And the time pressed. Already the Prosecutor General authorized to extend the investigation. So they were forced to agree. Even the investigator suggested: “Well, it is not entirely my fault: there is an article of the Criminal Procedure Code specifying that you can yourself write the answers to my questions.” I said: “Oh, that’s wonderful!” After a while they realized that I was writing for the history. They started interfering with my writing. The daily course of the investigation was reported to the general and adjustments were made to wring my neck. They threatened me with the isolation ward. It was very hard.
In this way the investigation lasted for three months. I filed my protest against the investigation and prosecution stating the facts of the case. In 1977 the KGB officers engaged me to join their agents’ ring. I had five meetings with KGB Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Olexandrovych Zavhorodniy from Odesa KGB at the Chernoye More Hotel. It’s on the Lenin Street. I flatly refused. They picked me up from my work. I did not want to go: “Give me a summons, and then I’ll go.” Then they picked me up after work and talked. The whole conversation was recorded. They made me swear to secrecy. After all, I turned out to be unyielding. I said to them: “I won’t work for you. Testifying against thieves stealing something is another pair of shoes but as to the political affairs, you’ve got the wrong woman. Because I am afraid that you will persecute innocent people. But we know that everybody, who did not agree to cooperate with them. Was put into a nuthouse. There have been precedents. He said, “Do not forget that we live in the same city, and we will pester you.” They got mad.
In 1972 or 1973, they presented me a warning under the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of December 25, 1972 on the “anti-Soviet activity”. They walked the chalk. And I had a broken leg and walked with a stick. In the KGB they read out this warning. I asked: “Shall I also stand at attention?”—“No, you can sit, because you’re with crutches.”—“Thank you.”
There was a terrible terror. From 1977 to 1980 they filed against me three criminal cases. They seriously intended to jail me. They jailed me only in 1980.
I did not furnish evidence on anyone. The criminal proceedings proved a complete flop. They planned a big show, to jail many people, and gain advance. I said, “For me, you will not get promotion. You will not force me to my knees. And with your morals you might as well talk to a brick wall. I myself can win over anybody.” Then I began persuading the investigator that his performance at the KGB was poor, that he jailed innocent people, that he defended an unfair cause. Then they said, “She will certainly persuade him.” And I did persuade him. After my case he left the KGB and works for Aeroflot in Kyiv.
V.O.: What ’s his name?
H.M.: Serhiy Volodymyrovych Merezhko. He is a pretty person. His wife, to my mind, is a teacher.
The investigation followed the materials, which I had edited. “And who gave you these materials?” It was very difficult for me to get out of a scrape. They did not ask questions, but put forward the allegations. Then I protested: "I will not testify when your questions are already accusation prior to the verdict of the court. You have only to ask me.”
We were talking about the famine of 1932-33, about the separation of Ukraine from the USSR. So I told them, “Wasn’t it a real fact? What would you do if your hungry child died in your hands? Would you not protest? Would you not talk about it? Is it a taboo subject? How many of our children died?! Mothers died and their hungry children crawled…” You know, it worked. He sat down when we began talking about his child and began blinking. He understood that it was very bad.
Then we discussed whether it was lawful to charge someone who wanted to make Ukraine break from the USSR? I called his attention to the fact that there is an article in the Constitution that Ukraine has the right to secede. By what authority do you accuse me? Let’s say that I wanted. So what? “It isn’t dangerous to wish”. And what are the practical steps? Did I snap off Ukraine from the USSR as a piece of bread? Your accusations are illegitimate.
They made a handwriting expertise.
When they led me down a long corridor, no one was allowed to look out. The bulbs blinked, the supervisor had a hand-held remote controller. When the prisoner was taken out of the cell a beep was heard in the corridor. No one had the right to stay in the corridor at the time. But the doors of the offices opened and officials quietly looked out from there. And women experts as well. Toward the end of the investigation an imposing man began to appear in the corridor; it was the head of the investigation department; and he gazed at me, too. After that he came to talk with me. Then two elderly men began to appear in the corridor. One was already gray-haired. They had to be bosses for my guard was afraid even give a squeak against them. It might be General Bandurysty in person, head of the Odesa KGB. And someone else. I did not know them in looks and no one explained who they were.
There was also an interesting fact. When the investigation had ended, the investigator said, “Don’t be in a hurry, let’s talk a bit, because there is no one to talk with. And we spent near an hour talking about everyday topics. Somewhere at 7 o’clock he called for the convoy and I was taken to prison. They led me down a long corridor. When I approached the prison, I smelled the burnt porridge. This jail had no kitchen for prisoners: they brought food for us from the criminal prison. In this prison they cooked only for the personnel. I think, these very guys were to blame for the burnt porridge. Then I approached a terrible basement. It was covered with a wire netting and locked with a padlock. And the basement belched smoke. So someone was kept there in the deep basement and s/he was never taken out. They’d put someone put out of sight. Now I was going to make an inquiry about people who lived there. The investigator did not know. When I told him he was very surprised. By the way, the investigator had no right to enter the prison.
And there was an occurrence in prison on the Ordzhonikidze Street. This story told me one man, whose mother worked as a matron in the jail. There was a woman prisoner who had studied somewhere abroad, some prominent revolutionary, political prisoner, already very old. She was imprisoned, probably, since the age of 30 years. So, they kept in prison people whom they never took out even for a walk. I never heard that someone was taken out for a walk at night, for in this case the footfalls would be heard and the dog would be barking.
How did they put me in a loony bin? We were talking about how the KGB tried to recruit me. I put in an application which triggered my criminal case. There I listed all KGB officers. “Will you speak about it in court?”—“I will.” Here I made a blunder. They studied my signed statement and became afraid that in the process of hearing the things would not hold together and decided to prevent my appearance in court. They asked me to write my explanation on a separate sheet. Originally they did not want me to write. “No, I shall write to let you know.” It happened after my long denial to testify, our protracted discussions, and I finally agreed that I would write on a separate sheet. I insisted that it should be entered in the minutes. “It will be entered in the minutes.” It is still in my criminal case. I thought it over to decide why they needed it. And they needed to hide the document when they approached Prosecutor Rudenko for extension of time of keeping me under investigation, in custody. So they decided to put me in a looney bin, so that I would not appear in court.
At the end of the investigation they took me for examination. When I wrote my appeal against the decision of the investigator to conduct the examination, because there were no grounds for this, the investigator said, “The anti-Soviet agitation is considered an abnormal behavior in the Soviet Union.” I was taken to the “five-minute” psychiatric examination here, in Slobidka. The experts examined me and realized that I was not sick. But, obviously, the KGB ordered to confirm my diagnosis.
The Expert Commission was headed by Mayer. The expert department was headed by Kravtsova. When they brought me in, she was absent; she had gone on business somewhere. Then she was told to leave me for in-patient examination, because this five-minute physical check-up proved ineffective. They said, “Do not be afraid: you will stay here for ten days; they will not give you injections.” They quickly stripped and sent to the hospital for observation.
But (still out of prison? - Ed.) One woman, her name was Liamina, arranged for my conversation with a psychologist who maintained contact with the “Svoboda” and dissidents. He said that the best option might be as in Igrunov’s case when they made a diagnosis and he spent two years in a free hospital. Igrunov is now a Deputy of the Russian State Duma, even the Vice-Chairman of a Committee.
The head of the commission asked me to draw something there. I drew. Let them make a diagnosis and it would be nice if they leave me in the out-of-prison hospital. But Igrunov was Russian, and I was a “Ukrainian nationalist”. As they say in Odesa, “these are two great differences”. They were not going to leave me in a free hospital.
When they somehow got wind that here they might not obtain a needed diagnosis, two days later they took me back to the KGB. After some time, the new order was issued: “Either Donetsk or Kharkiv. Choose”. I had to choose Kharkiv. There I was for three months. There were three commissions. The first did not come to any conclusion. I underwent a very detailed examination. Doctor Radyshevskyi said: “Nobody can oblige me to make this diagnosis. I will submit to nobody.” He was a Jew. But the KGB officers exerted terrible pressure. In the third place they gathered five experts to make up a commission. Head of the Department of Psychiatry of the Kharkiv Medical Institute Professor Bachernikov, Professor Pohybko from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, and three doctors-experts. They interrogated me, studied, conducted all sorts of tests, then the second expert commission in Kharkiv headed by Professor Bachernikov made the diagnosis: schizophrenia. It was the result of extreme pressure exerted by the KGB. But Professor Pohybko from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology did not sign the act. This is a very well-known psychiatrist and neurologist. I’m not sure if he is still alive or not. He refused to sign; instead of him the document was signed by a department head Artamonov, who had never seen me before. This happened despite the fact that besides experts no one was authorized to sign the act of expert examination. He violated the procedural law.
So, I was brought back to Odesa. After that the trial followed. I kept waiting for the trial until February 1981. There were two hearings. One hearing of the case was in camera; they revised the materials from the time when they tried to recruit me. I reckon they didn’t include it in my investigatory file. The second hearing was allegedly open and took place on December 13, 1980. But my sister was not allowed to enter the courtroom; I was not allowed to be present at the hearing because I supposedly was “of diminished responsibility”.
V.O.: So the sitting of the court was carried out without you?
H.M.: Without me, why not, because I had a diagnosis. The hearings go on without me, I cannot tell them anything, I cannot defend myself. The Court summoned the expert from Kharkiv, the same Radychevsky, who vowed: “No one will force me to make the diagnosis, I will defend.” The KGB officers forced him to ask to send me for “special treatment”. The recommendation specified a free hospital, which is also terrible because any psychiatric hospital is awful, but the special treatment hospital is nothing but a torture chamber. Especially in Kazan they have a special purpose prison. It is a sort of hutch where people are packed in together like sardines in a can. The premises are overcrowded. We were always locked; they may allow and may ban a walk. Terrible bullying, terrible nursing, terrible poverty, in such a squalor they didn’t have even a bucket. In the bath one shower was meant for 30 women, there was no heating, no changing room, nothing. The conditions were dreadful. The treatment included the excessive number of injected medications. One thing when they give excessive injections to a patient and another thing when they torture a healthy person. They tortured me with those drugs to such extent that I became numb, my speaking ability became impaired, and I shivered. I had my teeth shedding, I shivered, I swayed to and fro, terrible restlessness, and there was nowhere to go. Lord, I thought, how happy are those who can walk and they go where they want. Lord, Lord, how hard it was to live there one day!
There were really sick people and they avoided prescribing them medications but each time I was prescribed aminazine, very painful, the lumps appeared after the injections… After 100 milligrams you can fall to lose consciousness, because the pressure falls down sharply. They gave me strong neuroleptics and tisercin, as well as other medications. And they tried to put me on insulin. And about the shock therapy! They often resorted to electroshock and insulin shock. I have no indications, and my age, 51, exceeds the 47-year-age limit for application of insulin shocks. My arguments were not taken into consideration: “Don’t worry, we simply rejuvenate you.” And the fact is that I have polyps in my nose and I cannot breathe. If after the insulin injection I lose consciousness (in fact, people lose consciousness) and my mouth shuts, I will not breathe through my nose and I will suffocate, it means a certain death. I saw how they tortured people to death with insulin. Then I asked the nurse, because the otolaryngologist did not help. This Tatar nurse Farida was very bloody-minded, but I asked: “Farida, I will die, I cannot breathe through my nose, and you will be to blame for it.” She thought it over and crossed me out. She didn’t want to get herself into serious trouble. It was a miracle that she excluded me from the insulin list though she had already started forming special teams for insulin treatment procedures.
Therefore I did not die there. Then they tried other means to drive me to my grave. I had terrible asthma, and I was put into a cell with 12 women and they did not allow me to open the vent to ventilate the premises. It was wet in the cell, daily they poured a bucket of water on the floor and smudge it, the walls blackened. I gasp and they looked into the peephole to control whether I was alive or dead. I was not allowed to have and use my inhaler to stop an asthma attack, and they didn’t provide any substitute medications at that. Moreover, Doctor Kocherovsky said: “Treat yourself with your inhaler.” The inhaler is not intended to cure, but only to alleviate spasms. And to speed up my death, they led me together with other women to a bath and when we had wetted ourselves they turned off the water. And it was relentlessly cold for outdoors the temperature was 37 or 47 degrees below zero. Water was off for an hour and a half. Now I also had asthma, terrible bronchitis, and pneumonia. I was dying: I could not walk, only the tops of the lungs breathe a little bit, I was not able to cross the room. Then a girl from Pskov began giving me honey sent by her father. And the honey helped me to survive. And some nurses gave me sulfadimine which I asked for. It was not allowed without the permission of a doctor. This nurse would be fired from her job in a jiffy. So I did not die there.
The heck was raised around my issue abroad, and at home people began to write. The Ukrainian organization Agro… [the name is indistinct] in America; especially active were Ms. Olshanivska and Amnesty International. In 1987, President Reagan came to Moscow and handed a list of dissidents including five women--Armenian, Georgian, two Russians--Yelena Sannikova and Anna Chertkova and I. They added those four women to make an International and gave Reagan the whole list. And he prevailed upon Gorbachev. Otherwise they would have brought me to my grave. When this happened, Gorbachev immediately sent down a commission comprising three specialists from the Serbsky Institute and Kazan l also came together. They said that I could be discharged from hospital to continue treatment in a free hospital, where … [inaudible]. They canceled special treatment prescription and then sent me to a free clinic. But they wrote in my patient’s history as follows: “paranoid schizophrenia” which is dangerous for society “with changes in emotional and volitional sphere.” If it were written a little bit earlier, especially in Leningrad Kresty, then I would have undergone a lobotomy. They would have extirpated this “emotional and volitional sphere” and a person would have lost her/his ability to respond and kept smiling only. So they treated the political prisoners in Leningrad, and Mul could tell you about it.
V.O.: Who can tell?
H.M.: Mul. He is from Krasnodar Krai. He was tried in Russia and he was in Leningrad.
So, they made me such final diagnosis, which was not established in the course of initial examination. It happened already under Gorbachev, it was already 1987.
V.O.: How many years did you spend there?
H.M.: I served a stretch of seven years in Kazan.
V.O.: Seven years?!
H.M.: One year here in the KGB prison, three months in Slobidka, during the hearings they kept me in the psychiatric hospital. The conditions there were insufferable. One had to undergo a terrible ordeal just to survive one day there.
V.O.: Do you remember when the Gorbachev Commission worked?
H.M.: Now I do not remember, but sometime in October 1987. I’ll consult my documents. It was a long day today, magnetic storms, I have a headache… The final examination was performed by the Head of the Department of Serbsky Institute Pechernikova. She was charged with all those political prisoners. The commission included three Moscow specialists: Landan (?), Azamatov and, in my opinion, one more expert. The team of local doctors comprised the head doctor of the hospital, attending physician… there were many of them. After that they did their best to make me violate the regime: sat in the wrong place, stood in the wrong place, addressed the wrong person, and looked out of the window… it was a terrible terror! They did not let me out of the room to walk. Awful. They delayed with my discharge for four months. They sent my documents to the Odesa court to cancel the court decision about my special treatment. And there the court found that one seal was missing; they intentionally had not affixed one seal. The court sent the document by special post to Kazan, Kazan affixed the seal and returned the document by special post to Odesa. It took them four months to release me. It was an awful waiting. They were on the watch for me.
At long last on February 22, 1988 they took me by air to Odesa. But they would not have been the KGB officers if they had taken me to Odesa by this flight. Along the way, the engine of the aircraft began pinging. The plane banked so that the wing dipped into the cloud. Everybody was scared and grew pale. I thought, my God, they cannot do without tricks! The aircraft was coming late. They spent a lot of time to repair it. When it was ready to take off, the aircraft mechanics found problems. They spent an hour and a half to make final adjustments. Finally we took off and once again the engine hiccupped. We hardly flew as far as Donetsk. In Donetsk, after landing, they went on repairing for more than an hour. When we arrived in Odesa it was already about 8:00 pm. Several times we circled over the harbor, and finally landed. At last I stand on the firm ground, my ears are buzzing, the five-hour flight has come to an end, not a crumb in my mouth since the beginning of the flight.
So they brought me here. They called an ambulance and the guards brought me here, to Slobidka. And then the Jewess, the duty doctor, began pestering me: “Now what, will you stick to your guns? What were you doing there?” she started interrogating me. I said, “Doctor, take pity on me: I am tired and all day long I haven’t a crumb in my mouth, according to you I’m a patient, my ears are still buzzing. And you’ve started lecturing me. I’ m sick and tired of it. Quit it, please.” At last she stopped. I was taken to the 10th ward. There they maintained very strict supervision: complete ban on pens, paper, and letters while there were letters from abroad. However all of them were under a terrible pressure: the incoming letters to all organs, from Gorbachev and down to local authorities… From international organizations, Amnesty International, from Munich, from many states; in fact, they felt buried under these letters and they addressed a request to me: “Tell your friends to write less.” I answered, “It does not depend on me.”
Then they imposed greater limitations and stopped giving anything. They even didn’t allow the ten-minute visit of my sister in the presence of the medical staff. I protested and appealed to the head physician. The head doctor and head of the expert commission read the appeal and showed it Professor Mosketi, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the time. After my complaint all of them came running. Head of the Expert Commission--late Mayer, a Jew, he had made me the expertise the previous time I’d been here--said, “Hanna Vasylivna, do you remember me?” I said, “Yes, Zhan Osypovych.”—“How? After seven years in this hospital?" Professor Mosketi offered his hand to me and said: “The truly sick persons are unable to file such appeals. Permit all visits right away, lift all restrictions.” I wrote that they placed prison restrictions which were not stipulated by the free hospital standards and this meant a violation of all rights and codes. The y lifted the restrictions and gradually I began taking a walk. Before they never aired me which was terrible.
On May 11, 1988 the court repealed my coercive treatment, and on May 19 I was finally released. A group of people--from the church, from human rights organizations--with flowers greeted me in front of the hospital. So I got my liberty. But I fought for my rights one year more, because they appointed me a guardian. They wanted to repeal the guardianship as well. When I was released, the head of the wad said: “Well, I can repeal it.” But I thought it over and said, “I still have to register my sister.” Because they put a stranger in my apartment, turned my sister out of the house and changed the locks. And if something happened with me: “I need to register my sister.” But if I need guardianship, the sister is entitled to be registered in my apartment. Only in this way I managed to register m sister. A year later the guardianship was repealed. However it was a year of official circumlocution: they were afraid that I would challenge the guardianship in court. This year-round red tape was terrible indeed: I had swollen feet and could not walk, because I had done a truly long term and got chilled there. My sister and I followed the formal court procedures for days on end…
Well, they repealed everything. Then I started taking action. The Prosvita was already founded in Peresyp district and I went there. And then began the barricades: Ukrainian Helsinki Union, then the URP, and then the UCRP. Already in 1990 we organized the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers. We organized a boisterous rally broadcasted even by Odesa radio. People stayed on the streets and we taught Odesa residents to picket. We hoisted the blue-and-yellow colors. Kodynchuk (?) hoisted the first flag, and we stood by. Kodynchuk was badly beaten.
On August 19, 1991, we picketed the City Council against the State Emergency Committee. Among the participants were a part of personnel of the shopping center Passage and our people. Goodness gracious! The militia came running and screaming: “Don’t listen to her! She did the twelve-year term in jail!” We held out against militia for an hour and a half. They arrested Kodynchuk with the blue-and-yellow flag; you must have the document somewhere. They arrested the flag because they didn’t consider it to be the state colors at the time. However, they did not dare arrest me.
There is a lot to be told yet, maybe another time I will tell you about the members of our human rights group and what we did. Since it would be unfair not to mention Leonid Tymchuk, Olena Danielian, Hanna Holumbiyevska, Vasyl Barladianu, Zina Dontsova, Vasyl Varha, Tetiana Rybnikova, Rosaliya Barenboim to name a few. Then we all--Jews and Ukrainians-- picketed together and signed a petition in defense of dissidents in Moscow and Kyiv. So we had a human rights group.
V.O.: Was this during the times of Ukrainian Helsinki Group?
H.M.: Earlier, before it.
V.O.: I see, you’re tired of talking; you have to take a break.
H.M.: Today I have a headache; we have a full moon today which means a satanic day. I have a high intracranial pressure. So, maybe, let us have a break.
V.O.: Right, let’s have a rest.
H.M.: Maybe another day, will you have time to spare?
V.O.: It was Mrs. Hanna Mykhailenko, February 10, 2001. We continue the conversation on February 12, 2001 at her home again.
H.M.: Hanna Mykhailenko continues her story. The day before yesterday I had a headache, blood pressure rose, and it was a very inconsistent story. So, I’m sorry, now I will add some details.
I want to tell about 1976. This was the anniversary of Stalin’s Constitution. In Moscow, at the time, meetings were arranged near the monument to Pushkin, poets read their poems, people delivered different protest speeches, and Moscow raged, dissident Moscow, opposition Moscow. And we min Odesa also decided to take an example from Moscow. On the last day of Stalin’s Constitution, i. e. on December 5, 1976, we went to Pushkin—it is a monument here in Odesa on Prymorsky Boulevard--and staged a silent demonstration. It was dedicated to human rights despised in the USSR. There were only 11 people. The KGB had already known about the demonstration. Obviously, it was a result wiretapping. I was the first to come. The moment the militiamen present there spotted me, they immediately informed their superiors by walkie-talkie and vehicles arrived. Then come the rest of our people, we were 11. Who else joined me? Hanna Viktorivna Holumbiyevska, teacher at school no. 130, Vasyl Volodymyrovych Barladianu, a renowned publicist, lecturer at Odesa University, Valentyna Mykhailivna Sira and Leonid Mykhailovych Siry, both of them were workers. There were also four pupils of Hanna Victorivna Holumbiyevska-- Tetiana Rybnikova and Zina Dontsova, two boys, whose names I do not know. There was also Vasyl Varga. Maybe I have not named somebody, but we were 11 there.
They immediately took steps against us. We stood in a semicircle near Pushkin when we saw on the Prymorsky Boulevard the cadets of the nautical school coming downhill. It meant that the KGB sent the cadets to beat us. We were not afraid. We, women, stood in front and placed behind, so that when the cadets would attack us, they would have to deal with the women first and then attack the men. They approached closer and started picking on us, bullying, blustering, but no real fight resulted from it. We withstood the pressure for an hour and a half, but we did accomplish our end.
We went to the monument to Shevchenko on March 9 and May 22, when his body was transported from St. Petersburg to Kaniv. Once I tried to organize a rally or, so to speak, a kind of meeting at the Taras Shevchenko monument in a park named after him in Odesa. It was sometime in the early 70’s, it was the time of terrible domination of the KGB. I made arrangements with one student from the Polytechnic Institute the he would bring the camera and shoot the event. I wrote to the teachers of Ukrainian language, to the schools, so that they could bring pupils with them. I do not know whether they got my letter or not, but the teachers did not come. Only a few people turned out: they came, laid flowers and stepped back looking around. When we approached the place, it was already full of KGB and militia, everywhere, behind each bush. We lay flowers, stood for a while and left. Neither KGB nor the militia touched us, but we certainly were photographed.
We repeated this laying of flowers every year. One year--in about 1977--I brought with me the five-graders of school no. 1. I invited the teachers of Ukrainian language to bring their pupils, too, and to chip in on the flowers. It was that easy to get flowers at the time: usually on March 8 all flowers are sold out and on March 9 they are not available for sale. I gave 3 rubles, two more teachers gave three rubles each, while Dina Mohylnytska--she was already friends with the party organization secretary Nina Voloshyna and prepared to be a witness at my trial--she did not give, and only during the investigation in the KGB she boasted: "She asked me to give three rubles, but I refused.”
I together with my five-graders went to the store, bought flowers in pots and carried them to the monuments. It was the idea of five-grader Oksana Syritska. We put those flowers, made a semicircle and children shouted: “Hail, O Taras!” After that the kids recited Shevchenko’s poems. And then the writers came. The Odesa writers came to honor the Shevchenko’s birthday and brought flowers. And then they saw the schoolchildren. They were greatly surprised that there were still people who cared about the event, because everything was stifled and jammed. I remember writer Stanislav Stryzheniuk, who came up and began to thank us, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. What school is this?” I said: “The school no.1, fifth grade.” All writers who were about to leave returned, thanked the pupils and listened how the children recited poems. The children were elated. When the writers went away, I let the children go, but they kept shuttlecocking around the monument, played and the sun just came out. There I met citizen Mykola Buinenko, who was also a supporter of Ukrainian cause and later became witness at my trial. The KGB forced him to witness that I gave him to read The Gulag Archipelago. They confiscated this book from him.
We organized a human rights group. We did not formalize its organization, but I was constantly looking for people with whom it was possible to communicate, arrange protests, defend human rights and promote Ukrainian cause.
I worked for five years in the library of school no. 1, i.e. from 1972 till 1977during that time I met Hanna Victorivna Holumbiyevska, teacher from the school no. 130. How? Her pupil Zina Doncova frequented the library. I asked her about her views. I always try to find out what the person thinks, what life s/he leads, and what s/he lives by. I looked closely at many friends and tried to probe their views. Zina Doncova told me where Hanna Holumbiyevska lived. She lived not far from our school. Zina told how she was persecuted, how she taught and how she instructed children to think. She fostered the children in the spirit of Russian patriotism. She raved white birches, central Russia, but later she became dreaming about Ukrainian huts and felt herself a patriot of Ukraine.
I went to Holumbiyevska, met her and her pupil Tetiana Rybnykova. There came also other women who later participated in the human rights movement, though some of them didn’t, but they could arrive at their own conclusions and, one might say, had the revolutionary spirit.
In the apartment of Hanna Victorivna I met Rosaliya Mendelivna Barenboim. It was a mathematics teacher; I do not remember the number of the school. She was much in the news in the Odesa Znamia Komunizma newspaper. This was the organ of the communist party. They criticize her severely and, according to her words, they sacked her seven times. Seven times she was at law with the school; she was persistent and very energetic. Later she went to Israel and died there. Her determination was engraved on my mind.
I met Leonid Tymchuk. It happened just after the arrest of Nina Strokata. I came home to Nina Strokata, but she was no longer there, there lived another woman from Nalchik. I asked her whether she knew how Strokata was getting along, where she was now, and could I send her a parcel. The woman said, “I do not keep in touch with her, but here comes a man, her representative. Once it comes, I will send him unto you.” I didn’t wait long. Tymchuk Leonid Mykolayovych paid me a visit. We agreed on how to send parcels to Nina Antonivna, discussed his visit to her and started collecting petty cash. It turned out that Nina Antonivna Strokata wrote a letter, asked to bring her some things and listed them, and Leonid Tymchuk and I went shopping to choose and buy those things. Then he went east to her in Mordovia, to the camp. He said: “They did not let me in, and she argued with them. I heard her voice behind the gate, I hear Nina Antonivna coming, and I heard her voice. She called them all the names under the sun.” They Okayed the visit and accepted the parcel. Although I do not remember exactly whether a visit was Okayed… Though they did hand over the parcel. Anyway, he saw her. I do not remember for how long their meeting lasted. He returned by way of Moscow, met with dissidents, bought apples and brought them there. Later, when Nina Antonivna got up and went told that they kept those apples for Christmas when they put their meager food on the table and sang carols and recalled their Motherland. Those apples smelled of homeland, of Odesa, of Ukraine. She was satisfied having received such a parcel. It was known that the parcel should weigh less than five kilograms.
Vasyl Barladianu joined this human rights group. He often told us about his work, something about art, for example, about the life of Odesa artist Mykhailo Zhuk, how he died in poverty, how they terrorized and persecuted him. He was an outstanding Cubist, who created many portraits of Ukrainian public figures. So we were eager to hear about it.
After the trial of Strokata, Riznykiv and Prytyka--it was in May 1972—the KGB immediately jumped on Tymchuk. They believed that he was the main “resident”. The worst thing was that he lived alone in the apartment. Obviously, the KGB promised the militiamen that if they jailed him, they would take his apartment. That that militia officer would take Tymchuk’s apartment.
They jailed Tymchuk twice that year. In which way? While he was going to work or home a militia car used to pull up, grab him, throw in a car where women-witnesses were already present, drove him to the local precinct and drew up a protocol that he swore obscenely and hit two women. Tymchuk had a stoic temper and who would never lose his poise, would never get agitated, never do anything, and he was abstainer. So it looked very strange.
Somehow we rescued him. We saw that he was late. We called on him, but he was not at. I left a note and the note was still in the door, Tymchuk did not show up. We became scared, began looking for him in morgues, in various precincts. We kept looking for him all through the neighborhood and finally found him in the militia precinct. At first he was given 15 days of arrest and kept him on Mantensky [name illegible] Rise; there was such 15-day-arrest prison. I brought him parcels there and talked with him through the window. He slept on a bunk; they gave him no mattress, nothing. He served those 15 days. After some time there was an extremely foul weather: glazed frost, the trees were frosted over and broke, even the telegraph poles lay broken; it was like the last time, when the elements went loose.
V.O.: Tymchuk could not remember in what year this winter was. And do you remember?
H.M.: I do not exactly remember, but this was the year when he was tried again.
V.O.: He could not remember this as well.
H.M.: Did he not remember? Riznykiv has it noted down. He described all this. It might be the winter of 1973-74.
V.O.: He was released before the New Year.
H.M.: The glazed frost, water is ankle-deep, and we kept going and looking for Tymchuk. Again we looked for him in all parts and places: morgues, militia precincts, and prosecutor’s office. I went to the oblast prosecutor; Rosaliya Barenboim also went to the prosecutor. We filed complaints. We managed to find out that he was arrested and on that day they had to drive him from the precinct lock-up ward to the investigatory isolation ward on Chornomorska Road. If we had not rushed and rescued him, it would have been a holy terror. We, probably, spent two days under militia, under prosecutor’s office, filed complaints, protested, demanded. I went to the oblast prosecutor on duty; I remember, he was a Jew, jurist in years. When I came in, he stood like a gentleman, very polite, treated my application with understanding, request of release, and protest against the illegal arrest. He said that he already had one person who said that this Tymchuk was her student and gave high praise to him. The prosecutor apparently wrote or called the militia. Then we went to the Illichivsk Militia Station and protested against the arrest. We met with the investigator, I wrote a request to the investigator so that he could release him on personal guarantee.
V.O.: Maybe, on bail.
H.M.: Bail is one thing, and personal guarantee is another. The labor collective may seek release on bail, and I solicited for the personal guarantee. All three of us signed it then: Zina Dontsova, Rosaliya Barenboim and I. I invited her to sign, but she said, “No, I will not sign, this is of no avail, there has been nothing like this in the USSR. No, I will not sign.” I said, “Rosaliya Mendelivna if you do not sign, we will do it ourselves, but you will be ashamed.” Rosaliya Mendelivna signed with a heavy heart. We applied to the investigator. It was already evening, about eight o’clock. The investigator then told us, “I have realized that there is something wrong with it.” He went to the isolation ward and brought Tymchuk in his car. For the first time in the USSR we managed to snatch a man from jail! We all accompanied him to Holumbiyevska who marked her birthday. She has just baked a duck, cooked … [inaudible] and pilaf. She masterly cooked … [ same name] and pilaf. We sat down at the table and asked Leonid to eat, because he was hungry, terribly hungry, because they did not give him food, and we didn’t know where to bring the parcel. It was, probably, our first victory, because we rescued a man from prison for the first time.
Since then Leonid Tymchuk always stayed with us. We were a group together. The group also included Petro Butov and Petro Ray - a Christian Jew, convert to Christianity. Having liberated Tymchuk we escorted him from work and to work because the officials constantly provoked him into doing something. He worked as a sailor in a port and we took turns and accompanied him to the port. They tried to carry out provocations when he was going to work by some transport. If we were going by trolley-bus ride they used to send a dubious woman, who yelled that he pushed her. So I stood between him and these suspicious people and prevented somebody’s coming close to him. Another time I waited in a seaport building until his boat moored. Once he was late or something and some strangers started badgering with me. One day he did not come at all. I did not know where he went or whether he came earlier, or something. I was be chilled to the bone and I had to go.
Thank God, we defended Tymchuk. He was not arrested.
He sure told you an interesting story how he brought down a listening device from the wall of his apartment, which gave on the Kholodmash plant. It was such a sizeable device, still rather primitive, but a bug all the same. He got up at four o’clock in the morning, climbed onto the roof and—bang—bang--bang knocked down this box.
V.O.: He said it was just after March 8, when everyone, including militiamen, was drunk.
H.M.: Right. And the device was under alarm. There in front were the premises of militia and prosecutor’s office. There the light alarm was actuated, the guards came running and commotion emerged. In the meantime he managed to remove electromagnetic coils, major nodes and escape. I came running to the library: “They’ve already searched my apartment. I’ve taken down some critical parts.” I said: “Bring them to the library, I’ll leave them at school; they wouldn’t search the school.” He says, “No, I’ve safely hid them.” And where did he hide them? In a heap of coal. The KGB officers came, shoveled the heap, found everything, took the parts and nodes away and said, “We’ll still lead you by the nose.” For this they tried to imprison him for the second time.
Once the KGB officers followed fast at Vasyl Barladianu’s and my heels. They dogged our heels, especially Barladianu’s heels. They were about to arrest both of us. They wanted to throw the KGB officers off but the latter threatened: “We will smash your mugs.” They came running to my school. I was in the library. They told me everything; I gave Barladianu all money I had about me, because we were all poor. I led them through the yard to another building. There was a kitchen. There was a no trespassing zone, but I asked the chef to let them pass. From the kitchen there was a passage to a closed structure. Nobody could see them there. They safely went through the kitchen and proceeded to the yard of that building, climbed over the fence. On the same day Vasyl Barladianu got on the train and went to Moscow. He really wanted very much to go abroad; he went to meet Sakharov to help him leave. But Sakharov was of little help.
Now they undertook an action against Barladianu.
H.M.: He was arrested in 1976, sometime in March (on March 2.--Ed.), but they had been pestering him for a number of years to fabricate a criminal case. Then he wrote articles in which he defended the interests of Romania in the Soviet Union. He argued that the Soviet Union illegally seized Transnistria, which was a Romanian territory. Then Vasyl Volodymyrovych dreamed about Romania: he went there to gather material for his thesis and apparently he liked to be a Romanian. For some time he maintained that he was a Romanian.
He sent that article to Brezhnev. He wanted to stir up a dispute, even if he would be arrested for political reasons, he would do a one-year term, would become a dissident and would have the right to emigrate. Such were his reasons, to my mind. He was friends with Fedir Denysovych Neriychuk. And the latter had close contacts with the KGB; he was a tough agent. Nevertheless, Vasyl was friends with him, Neriychuk often visited his house. I do not know whether Vasyl came to agreement about it with him: say, he wrote another seditious article, Neriychuk reported to the KGB, the KGB performed a search, and took away all those articles. As a result after those articles, as well taking into account oral propaganda and agitation they initiated prosecution against Vasyl under article 1871: “slanderous fabrications”. Barladianu was lucky: he was arrested by the KGB, but the case was conducted by investigator of the prosecutor’s office Holenko. He treated Vasyl quite correctly; it can be said without cutting it too fat. We were afraid that they would re-qualify the article 1871 over to on 62nd. But Holenko still had a heart, and Vasyl was given 3 years.
We all came to attend the hearing (June 27-29, 1977--Ed.), but we were not allowed to enter the courtroom, we protested, wrote complaints. We raised hob out there for all people to see. I tried to enter the courtroom through the back door, because I knew the labyrinthine passages there, but they were always guarded. They blocked the way in. We were only admitted during the reading of the sentence. Barladianu was very thin after his hunger strike.
V.O.: Did he go on a hunger strike during the trial?
H.M.: I do not know if he went on a hunger strike during the trial, but I know that he went without food before the hearing. And Holumbiyevska gave him flowers: she asked for permission.
V.O.: How did she manage? He was certainly guarded in the bay.
H.M.: She either threw them or handed in. She asked for permission to give flowers: either she asked the guards or the public prosecutor, I certainly do not remember.
We were very angry. The case gained publicity. We behaved, as they said, defiantly.
Before that we defended Vasyl, accompanied him to work, from work, called on him during searches, so that he was not alone. He often stayed with me, went to the Sirys (both husband and his wife were very active; now they have emigrated to America).
I would also like to tell about Olena Danielian. She was a young girl—it seems, I’ve mentioned her already--half Armenian, half Jew. Her mother was very opposed to Olena’s participating in the dissident movement. But it was a very staunch girl, very cute, very kind, honest and decent. Later she was able to emigrate to the United States. She works somewhere there as a journalist and lives in Boston.
In the camp they increased sentence for Vasyl Barladianu adding three years. From Rivne Oblast (camp OR-318/76, Village of Polytsi, Volodymyrets Region) they brought him to Lviv for a psychiatric examination. Valery Hnatenko and I tried to get into that hospital and that ward, establish contacts with the personnel. But we were told that he had been taken away yesterday.
Valentyna Barladianu could not go, she asked me, I contacted Hnatenko and we went there together. Hnatenko had a tumor near his ear. He was a very promising young artist, patriot, worked for Ukraine. Anticipating, I’d like to tell that I met him in New York. There was an exhibition of his works. The exhibition was organized by his wife, Stefaniya. I was invited there and wrote down my opinion. I wrote that we met with Valery for the second time because earlier I saw him alive, and now I met with his works.
V.O.: You’d rather tell more about Holumbiyevska.
H.M.: About Holumbiyevska I told too little. She was an outstanding personality. She was a very good woman. Maybe, at first she considered herself of, say, Odesa nationality. Her mother’s last name was Denyschenko, and she adopted her husband’s last name Holumbiyevska. Her husband was a Jewish and rather a lousy person. He kept terrorizing her all the time. He took away notes from her notepad and brought them to the KGB. She always had to put up money for him. For example, having bought a trifle for his daughter he used to come to her and say, “You owe me this much, because I’ve bought Hanna thus-and-so.” So she always owed him money, was often hard up and had heavy expenses. Many people called on her. Whatever the financial condition, she usually served us tea, biscuits, sandwiches or pilaf [illegible]. Well, if anybody could, s/he brought some foodstuffs with her/him. When my sister or I came we were often a surprise party. Even her two Maltese dogs always new who brought in food and happily greeted them.
She was persecuted. She lectured to her class on Master and Margarita by Bulgakov explain the children its meaning. Owing to this she found herself in conflict with the so called teaching staff. She was objurgated at the meeting, slandered, sacked, demanded that she left teaching, outplaced her and demanded that she went to a lower school or even to a kindergarten. They tried to prevent her teaching children. Earlier they told me about the same: “We will keep you within shooting range from children.” The same was with Holumbiyevska. We held her up in a trying hour. Once I also suggested: “Look, after all, maybe you’d rather go to a kindergarten?” She said, “Nothing shall induce me!” Finally, she was put on job in the lower school, I thing in the fifth grade, where she could no longer disseminate her ideas.
I have a newspaper with the running account of the meeting analyzing her misdemeanor. One can read there pearls of wisdom. She was a very erudite, educated woman: she graduated from the Odesa Pedagogical Institute. I reckon she was born in 1938, blond, slightly rounded forms, very sincere and, at the same time, and steadfast. I adopted many her methods. I called on her as my best friend. A kind of positive energy prevailed in her apartment and she warmly welcomed all visitors. However, most women coming there were heavy smokers, and she learned to smoke with them. Among those chain-smokers were Halyna Mohylnytska, Zinayida Dontsova and Hanna Viktorivna to name a few. She had kidney problems, one of her kidneys ceased to function. Massive infection followed, she suffered and was very thin.
Hanna Viktorivna Holumbiyevska died on June 19, 1994. We laid her to rest and cried our eyes out. We lost a wonderful friend. Personally, I owe her that she protected me, my sister called on her; together they organized my defense when I was jailed. She wrote Gorbachev a request to let me go, too; by the way, it was an interesting message, and I gave you a copy.
She wrote an article about me “Lay about a woman”, in which she praised my human qualities. Maybe she a bit exaggerated, because we all humans and sinners. (See: Hanna Holumbiyevska. Lay about a woman (Ukrayinskyi Visnyk, issue 8, September 1987. - Ukrayinskyi Visnyk. Civic literary and artistic and socio-political magazine. Issue 7, 8, 9-10. August, September, October-November 1987. - Baltimore-Toronto: Smoloskyp. - 1988. P. 286-291. And she was a wonderful person. Her daughter Hanna lives now in her mother’s apartment: apt. 13, 8, Moiseyenko, Odesa. Hanna Viktorivna has two grandchildren: a boy and a girl. The daughter is a mother’s child and, like her father, shows no interest in anything.
Hanna Viktorivna played an outstanding role in the organization of the dissident movement in Odesa. She had very many friends; the Moscow dissidents often visited her. We signed petitions in defense of Moscow dissidents, the massive arrests of whom had been just underway, for example, they had already apprehended Orlov and Shcharansky to name a few. Alexander Podrabinek and Irina Osipova often brought a petition to Kyiv. There the petition was signed, then it was brought here and all of us signed it indicating the numbers of our passports.
I will always remember her: a wonderful woman, wonderful friend, and wonderful public figure. She was the soul of our team. Lord love her! And I hope once in Odesa they will erect a monument and will rename the Moiseyenko Street after Hanna Holumbiyevska.
V.O.: You were about to tell us about rapidly moving events after the arrest of Vasyl Barladianu.
H.M.: From the case of Barladianu they singled out proceedings against me, Olena Danielian and Hanna Holumbiyevska. They too were terrorized but only I was arrested. I am originally from Western Ukraine and therefore was a terrible enemy for them because the KGB officers zeroed in on me in the first place.
When I had contacted the Ukrainian Helsinki Group in Kyiv, Oksana Yakivna Mieszko instructed me to edit materials in Odesa and to transfer the whole activity to Odesa to divert the attention of officials from Kyiv. I was entitled to sign papers on behalf of all 16 members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, but I did not sign the documents myself, because I was not a declared member. I was already under a criminal investigation, therefore I could not be a declared member because they would immediately apprehend me and I wouldn’t be able to undertake anything. I communicated with Kyiv and frequented there before my arrest. At home I had searches one after the other, barred my way to the door on the street, and kept terribly terrorizing. I was on the beach; my name was blacklisted in all personnel offices: I was turned down everywhere I went to. It all ended with three criminal cases. They failed to jail me on the grounds of the first and second cases and therefore apprehended me on February 20, 1980. I stayed under arrest until May 19, 1988. After that followed the court proceedings concerning the restoration of rights. Then I rushed to the barricades again.
I am still participating in the social movement in the interests of Ukraine. I work in a political party, in the UKRP, in “Prosvita”, we created a bloc of political parties. Now we are organizing the action “Ukraine without Kuchma”. We are doing what we can. However, the strength fails me now: this coming April I will be 72. Our pensions are scanty, so we are hard up for money. Yet the soul’s flying, I would go on foot to Kyiv and would help there. Recently a friend of mine, Lina (?) Dmytrivna Tymofeyeva, said: "I cannot live, my feet are still painful, but I worry how this action may be realized without me, I would like to go on foot to Kyiv to take part.” There are many patriots In Odesa, but people are depressed by economic situation. The consciousness is gradually improving, there are more blue and yellow colors on signs, even on kids’ clothing, Ukrainian language is heard more often, no one looks down on the Ukrainian language. For example, I always openly speak Ukrainian. In public institutions, I always spoke Ukrainian. With me even officials resort to Ukrainian language, they bastardize the language, but try and speak.
Our human rights group and current political parties have done much for Ukrainianization of Odesa, but creeping Russification is going on. There is a lack of Ukrainian specialists. Ukrainians make up the majority here, but our public figures come down from Kyiv and speak Russian. Even Moroz and Yavorivsky. Masol also spoke Russian when he paid a visit to Odesa. They think that Odesa residents do not understand Ukrainian. It’s shameful. Odesa is the sea capital of Ukraine; our government would have to do its best to carry out personnel changes here. The brazen Jewry sets up its organizations, quickly trains proper personnel, the Jews have infiltrated all government agencies, they control shadow economy, they have sticky fingers, they ruin all undertakings and take over all businesses. In short, they believe that Ukraine is #1 Jewish state. Even at the seaport, they’ve erected a monument of sculptor Neizvestnyi showing lying miserable Jewish baby in an eggshell which is supposed to symbolize the nascent Jewish state in Odesa. There is an entire underground city in Odesa, which is said to have stocks of weapons, foodstuffs, machines, presses for money printing, and labs. They try anything to keep hold on Odesa. When I leave this world behind, I want my descendants to keep Odesa, take care of it and its experts. I believe that Odesa will be fully Ukrainian. Ukrainians are gradually reviving, our spirituality is on the rise, but we need time to solve economic problems.
I reckon I have finished. Maybe my story is somewhat inconsistent, I may have forgotten something, because everything is wired up, nevertheless I’ve managed to tell many interesting things. See more in the documents that I give Mr. Vasyl Ovsiyenko. I thank him very much for this selfless work which he performs while travelling and collecting our memoirs.
V.O.: I also thank you for this story. It was recorded in the apartment of Mrs. Hanna Mykhailenko, the street is now called Nizhynska, on February 12, 2001.
V.O.: Thank you.
H. M.: I still wanted to talk about my sister Smoliy Praskoviya Vasylivna. She was born in 1931 and is two years younger than me. She lives now in the village of Ahafiyivka, Liubashivka Region, Odesa Oblast. When I was arrested, she went to see me in Kazan, haunted thresholds of investigators and courts, and filed complaints. Hanna Holumbiyevska always helped her. She kept sending me parcels twice a month. It was so hard that I had to be registered as a disabled person, I was paid 50 rubles, I sent them to my sister, so that she could send me parcels. They did not like her visiting me, because they intended to mortify me in the Kazan prison-nuthouse. They also were eager to jail her; they accused her of bringing information out of loony-bins and broadcasting it over the Radio Freedom. At the time the Radio Freedom and other radio stations frequently covered my situation and very many letters and protests were received in Odesa. Therefore the KGB officers would like to jail my sister as well. They kept terribly abusing her. They arranged it with the head doctor that she would be discharged immediately after a complicated operation in the cancer clinic, so that they could condemn her. She stayed in the hospital less than 10 days.
In the course of two years they fabricated four criminal cases against my sister Paraska. She worked as a driver. She used to pour off half a bucket of solar oil to wash machine parts at the collective farm. It is a common practice of drivers; it has nothing to do with stealing. She was tried for theft. The arrears of wages used to make four months, but when she expressed her indignation, they executed process-verbals about her offended someone. The cashier, who had to hand out wages, even bit her finger. They let themselves go just to jail her. They shot at her windows trying to kill her. When after the operation at the cancer clinic she came home and was confined to bed, the cops burst in at nine o’clock, grabbed her, put her in the paddy wagon and transported her to Liubashivka Region eight kilometers away. There she was kept for three days. And no one could aid her for I did my term at the time. Somehow Odesa lawyer Valentyna Ivanivna Ponomarenko learned about her. She rushed to the Liubashivka prosecutor to lodge a protest: “You cannot jail this woman! On what grounds?” She brought my sister out of the from the preventive-detention cell. They tried not to let it. It was a child’s play for them to fabricate a criminal case.
My sister was involved in the creation of the Rukh and participated in all its actions. She always took interest in the fate of all dissidents. When I was visiting Strokata, my sister also tried to send some food from home. In Ahafiyivka Village where migrants from Western Ukraine made half the village, still at the time of the USSR they hoisted the blue and yellow flag on a telegraph pole not without her help. It took place near the Odesa-Kyiv Highway and the passengers in the passing cars saw it. When they tore the flag, I advised them to paint a tin plate in blue and yellow. They hoisted this tin flag and it hung for quite a time. Sometime before the independence the militia managed to tear it down again.
On August 24, 1991 the Independence was proclaimed and at 9:00 pm I was near the Verkhovna Rada among 60 other Odesa residents. We brought the flag to the Verkhovna Rada, surrounded the Verkhovna Rada not to let the deputies out until they voted for the independence. We stayed there for two days.
The following day my sister brought together the villagers, mostly women for all men were at work. Maybe some men were afraid and peeped out from behind women. She gathered local residents and comers from the Western Ukraine. With such glowing smiles they went and she bore a flag in front of the column of beaming women to whom I gave two flags! They were happy that the Independence of Ukraine was proclaimed.
It beats me how my sister managed to endure so many years of continuous terror and torture. A pathetic creature! She now lives in Ahafiyivka, already retired, and ill. An unenviable dwelling. She was never allowed to plow her vegetable garden, they cut off her water supply. They threw rats and debris into her water well so that she could not draw water. They provided no aid and plotted against her instead. A KGB officer constantly tailed after her, especially when I came to visit my sister. Every our arrival was reported upon to the Liubashivka KGB officer; when I return to Odesa, the head of the village council, a snitch, informed them immediately, so they could meet me there.
In a word, a terrible terror. Only the last two years have been free of terror. The collective farms have already broken down; the heads of former collective farms have no such power. But all the same my sister is a heroine. For my survival in Kazan I am very much obliged to the international community and the dissident movement in Ukraine, but also to my sacrificial sister.
Ten members of our family served their terms in the USSR. One never returned, he perished, Ivan Pryshliak. Uncle Mykola Smoliy was in the German concentration camp and in the Soviet prisons as early as in 1941. Brother Yosyp was in jail. Kateryna Hrytsyk, sister, was in jail. Her husband, Mykola Hrytsyk, was in jail. My cousins, second cousins, sisters. .. One of them, Ityna (?) Kateryna now lives in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. She was in the Kingir camp. She got a term of fifteen years for her going with UIA and only miraculously survived when there was a revolt and tanks crushed the prisoners. She jumped on the steps leading to the barrack and the tank passed by her. Another sister, Kateryna Tanchak (she died in Radiyivsky Region (Vradiyivsky Region?) a few years ago) did a twenty-five-year term. It seems to me she served only fifteen years. She was released during the Khrushchev’s Thaw. Ten sufferers in one family. We were constantly hungry, continuous searches, they did not give us a moment’s peace. You could say that fate of our family is like the fate Ukraine under the regime of persecution. But none of us gave up, none of us regretted, we never squealed, we have remained patriots and will be patriots to the very end. [The recorder is turned off].
H.M.: I’ll tell you about one episode of elections. During all elections, I was an observer. The situation usually was very difficult: the observers are attacked, outrageous breach of all limits, they do what they like. In 1998, I was present at the school no. 122. The elections to the Verkhovna Rada. Terrible enemies of Ukraine were put to the vote. Among the nominees there were Liova Removych Himmelfarb, pseudonym Lev Vershynin, terrible Ukrainophobe. In Odesa he hung far and wide his portraits and said, “Nazi, get out of Odes!” He meant Ukrainians. “Banderovetses to the zoo.” Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus are a single whole. Krupnyk was the second candidate. There was every reason to believe that he was a Satanist. Also a Jew. I managed to win the head of the election commission to my side. We thrashed the matter out and decided how to block these two enemies and prevent stealing the election. She agreed with me, even though she was Russian, and she said, ‘I will redirect everyone to you, and you will lead the election.” I joined Mariya Chyvikina and managed the elections. The Jews and Russians came flocking without passports: the lame excuses like “I’ve forgotten…” They came flocking to back their candidates. I thought that I would carry the election only over my dead body. This was a very big polling station.
I did it correctly, but all the same I sent them packing. How did I scare them away? When they tried to press me, I whispered, “Sorry, citizens here we have an SSU officer monitoring the process.” Then they were afraid and retreated. I was in a suit with the blue and yellow badge and it was against the grain with them. When they saw the inevitable failure, Krupnyk sent hirelings and they tried to chuck me out by force. One of his representatives introduced himself as a prosecutor who flashed an ID and tried to make me go out. I phoned the international observers at once; the latter were headed by my friend from America Martha Pereima, she is now working at the U. S. Embassy in Kyiv. They came running and did not let them push me out.
These two fierce enemies of Ukraine lost the election. They said: “You’re looking for trouble!” I went home late at night, but the enemy suffered the electoral catastrophe.
V.O.: I remember those Russian chauvinist leaflets. Somebody sent them to Kyiv for our information. Was it you by any chance?
H.M.: Yes, I sent them. We did as follows: on their leaflets on the one side we wrote “Vershynin” and overleaf we wrote “Liova Himmelfarb” and painted the Zionists’ star. Above we wrote: “Two Russians nominees to the Ukrainian Knesset” and pasted these leaflets to all litter bins in the city.
V.O.: I am most surprised when the Jews parade as the Russian imperialists. Why should they? It was not a Ukrainian slogan: “Beat kikes and save Russia!” It was not a Ukrainian idea.
H.M.: They do not like Ukrainians. They tolerate Russians, but they are not able to stomach Ukrainians. They do not need frontiers; they prefer to make frequent trips like yo-yo: “Odesa is a free city and we do not need Ukraine.” They still differentiate between “Odesa journalists” and “Ukrainian journalists”, or “Odesa” and “Ukraine”. They write it openly in the press.
V.O.: Odesa as a separate state and a separate nation?
H.M.: Yes, a separate state. They will have this state on the Jewish cemetery. They appoint Jewish mayors at any cost. In 1993 there was Ukrainian mayor Cherneha, and all others were Jews. Kike Pechersky, a Mossad agent, kept rallying against him, all yids were out; this mob was a caution. Sometime in late fall, in October 1993, he led a put-up prepaid rally: musical schools, and all sorts of softheads and hapless. We decided to place counter-pickets. I called the Head of the Central District Executive Committee Barabolia: “Stir people to action, call the factories.”—“They will say that I’m interfering.”—“Never mind, let’s save Cherneha, the Ukrainian Mayor.” He called factories and people came out. They did not know what to do. The militia was on the side of Jews, but then the October District Executive Committee was headed by Hurwitz, and the management reserves were on their side. But our rally also was very populous. We bore the slogans as follows: “Free Economic Zone for the whole Ukraine, and not for the Odesa mafia alone”, “Odesa is Ukraine”, “Odesa and Crimea are Ukraine”, “Hands off mayor Cherneha!” God, they have even scratched us. Lawyer Vozniuk was so scratched that the blood flowed. They tore slogans and we fought them. And Kozaks stood behind and wagged their tongues. Then four Beitarists led by their cross-eyed head Tener--this is their paramilitary youth organization “Beitar”--surrounded and tried to isolate me. I could not break away from them! I called for help and our demonstrators pushed these guys away. I also beat off the guys and escaped from them; then I went to the center of the commotion. They pressed us. Now militia is not that eager to push me around because it would cost them dear…
V.O.: It’s belter to not trouble trouble…
H.M.: Right, they will have trouble…
Recently we have welcomed Viktor Yushchenko, on June 12, 2000. 20 people have turned out to oblast administration, where there is the office of the head of administration Hrynevetsky. They ordered the militia to keep us at a distance from Yushchenko. Yushchenko was near the bank “Ukraine”, near the oblast administration. He climbed the steps and mused upon a distant scene. And we stood about 150 meters away. They’d moved out the disguised OMON or Special Forces so that could not even been seen. I wanted to come nearer, and they pushed me. They twisted our hands, a real nightmare! So we did not welcome Yushchenko. I wrote complaints. All runarounds stated that the rallies are allowed at Kulikovo Pole, five kilometers away, where Lenin stood. The administration is here and Yushchenko is here and we should go to greet him to the Kulikovo Pole, and that was the end of it!
We conducted all sorts of actions. In the early years we stuck to the streets. We picketed the session, especially when in 1993 Bodelan wanted to declare the Soviet power and dismiss this administration, [illegible] was the presidential representative. I got a call from the oblast administration and they asked, “What will you do?”—“We will picket.” Our rally boiled up. We brought a red flag and when the deputies were passing by we in a gust of passion threw it on the steps, I went ahead and wiped my feet: “Please, wipe your feet, so that you enter with clean feet.” And I distributed flyers about the crimes of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. You know their attempt at uprising then failed. It actually was an attempted coup if the session of Oblast Council declared Soviet power and liquidate the representation of the President. They failed, and the representative of the President was glad and when Kravchuk arrived he personally gave a call to my home and invited me to a meeting with Kravchuk.
V.O.: You don’t say so! Thank you. It was Mrs. Hanna Mykhailenko. We ran on.
 Today’s administrative attribution of the region: http://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D1%82%D1%80%D1%96%D0%BB%D0%BA%D1%96%D0%B2%D1%81%D1%8C%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BE%D0%BD (translator’s note).
 The NKVD prison in prewar Lviv. After the WWII it was better known as the Łącki prison (translator’s note).
 Nina Antonivna Strokata-Karavanska, 31. 01 1926 - 06. 02 1996, Odesa, political prisoner in 1971-75, a founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. - Ed.
 Olexa Riznykiv, b. 24. 02. 1937, jailed on 1. 10 1959 under Art. 7 of the Law on criminal responsibility for crimes against the state for eighteen months, for the second time on 11.10.1971 under Art. 62, part 1 for 5.5 yrs. Poet, wrote several books on the Odesa dissidents. - Ed.
 He was arrested on 9.08.1971. - Ed.
 The trial lasted from May 4 till 9, 1972. Nina Strokata got 4 years of imprisonment, O. Riznykiv got 5.5, and O. Prytyka got two years. - Ed.
 Vasyl Volodymyrovych Barladianu-Byrladnyk, b. 08.23.1942, Village of Shybka, Hryhoriopil Region, Moldova. Arrested in Odesa on 02.03.1977: 3 years in the camp OR-318/76, Village of Polytsi, Volodymerets Region, Rivne Oblast. Arrested on 29.02.1980: camp no. 28 in the Town of Snizhne, Donetsk Oblast, from 17.01.1981 in the camp no. 82 in the Village of Hostre, Chervonoarmiysk Region, Donetsk Oblast. Released on 28.02.1983. - Ed.
 Svyatoslav Yosypovych Karavansky, b. 24. 12 1920 Odesa, 31 years of imprisonment: 1944-60, 1965-79. UHG member, writer and linguist. Went to the USA on 30.11.1979. - Ed.
 Ivan Olexiyovych Svitlychnyi, 20.09.1929 - 25.10.1992. An acknowled leader of the Sixtiers. Jailed on 30.08.1965 and kept without trial for 8 months. Next time he was arrested on 12.01.1972 under article 62, part 1 and sentenced for 7 years of imprisonment and 5 years of exile. The Shevchenko Prize Winner for 1994, posthumously. - Ed.
 Stefaniya Mykhailivna Shabatura, b. 1938, artist and tapestry-maker, arrested on 12.01. 1972, sentenced to camps and exile: 5+3. UHG member. - Ed.
 Oksana Yakivna Meshko, did her terms in 1947-56 and 1980-85, a founding member of the UHG. - Ed.
 Oles Berdnyk, 25. 12 1927 - 18. 03 2003, writer and political prisoner in 1950-55, founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, arrested on 6.03.1979, released on 14.03.1984. - Ed.
 Mykola e Rudenko, b. 19.12.1920 - 1.04.2004. Writer, human rights activist and head of UHG (9.11.1976), arrested on 5.02.1977, released in October 1987. Shevchenko State Prize winner, Fellow of the Ukrainian Free Academy, Hero of Ukraine; Rayisa Panasivna Rudenko, b.on 20.11.1939, in the Village of Petrivka, Synelnykiv Region, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. Arrested on 04.15.81 and sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment and 5 years of exile. The camp ZhKh - 385 /3, Barashevo, Mordovia. Since April 1986 lived in exile in the Village of Mayma, Mountainous Altai. Released in October 1987.
 Now—Pylyp Orlyk Street in Kyiv (translator’s note).
 Yevhen Vasyliovych Proniuk, philosopher, born in 1936; arrested on 6.07.1972 and sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment and 5 years of exile under Art. 62, Part 1. Constant chairman of the Ukrainian Society of Political Prisoners and Repressed created on 3.06.1989. People’s Deputy of Ukraine of 2nd convocation. - Ed.
 Petro Hryhorovych Hryhorenko, 16.10.1907 - 21.02.1987, political prisoner in 1964-1965 and 1969-1973. Founding member of the UHG. - Ed.
 The author implies the world-famous sculptural composition "Golden baby" donated to the Bicentennial of Odesa (translator’s note).
 The Nazi name for the Star of David (translator’s note).