KAMPOV Pavlo Fedorovych
Ovsienko V.V.: I am having a conversation with Pavlo Kampov on the 23rd of January 2000, at his house in Uzhgorod, Chaikovskoho str. 8. Interviewer – Vasil’ Ovsienko.
Kampov P.F.: My life was not at all the way I imagined or planned it. I never imagined that I would even come close to a prison, because in my opinion you had to deserve to be prison first. I have never crossed neither militia nor the Security Services or .the Public prosecutor’s office. The only I contacted with were those who lived nearby or whom I once studied with. However, my life came out to be different from I thought it would. I had to spend almost 17 years imprisoned, 12 of those years were in concentration camps and almost 5 years were in exile.
I was born in the family of farmers. My father died young, but during his life he managed to visit the USA. When he returned home, he bought 8 hectares of land, started up a farm, got married. Our family had 5 children – 4 boys and one girl, my sister Marie. I was raised without a father, he died when I was 1 year old. Lie was not easy but thanks to my mother’s diligence we lived more or less wealthy.
Ovsienko V.V.: Could you please name your mother and father?
Kampov P.F.: My father – Kampov Fedir Oleksandrovich, my mother – Mishko Hanna Yuriivna. When my father died, mother was only 30 years old, but she devoted herself to her children so she never got married again.
We were part of the Czechoslovakia Republic at the time. So what do I remember since then? It was a democratic republic. There was no such thing as political imprisonment, and if separate members of the Communist party of Czechoslovakia were in prisons, it was only because they started up fights against the gendarmes or the State Authorities during demonstrations.
In 1938 Germany, lead by fascists, occupied Czechoslovakia which, in its turn split into three parts: Czech Republic, Slovakia and Carpathian Rus. After the current Slovakian leader, Piso, proclaimed the independence of Slovakia changes had to take place in the Carpathians too. The Prime-minister of the Carpathian Rus, Andriy Brodiy was fired by the Czechoslovakian government because he had an aim of making the Carpathian Rus part of Hungary. So after that, Augustin Voloshyn was chosen as the head of autonomous Carpathian Rus.
I must say that Augustin Voloshyn was devoted to Czechoslovakia Republic until his last breath. He proclaimed the independence of Carpathian Ukraine as a result of Piso’s proclamation of the Slovakia Republic independence. Voloshyn was devoted to Carpathian Rus until his end, even after Carpathian Rus was renamed to be Carpathian Ukraine and even after the elections to the Carpathian Sojm took place, Augustin only gathered the Sojm after an order from the President of Czechoslovakia. And so on the 15th of March 1939 the Sojm, which has already proclaimed Carpathian Ukraine juridically, took place and Augustin Voloshyn has been elected President. I was a child at the time and I just knew that there was such thing as the Carpathian Sich, which, by the way, had no weapons. It was a cultural social organization which was agitating people and was responsible for securing the villages. It was an organization with no weapons.
The next day, on the 16th of March 1939 Hungary occupied our Carpathian Ukraine. It was a very difficult period. Nobody stood against apart from seminarians and gymnasium students. Why was nobody defending it? Maybe the government understood that they would fail anyway, so they fled to Romania and then to Yugoslavia. Roman Shuhevich, who was in Hust at the time, fled from the Carpathians two days before the occupation. The Carpathians had many people who were not from there, from Halychyna for example. Those were in fact the people who create all those illegal organizations in Poland. They wanted Ukraine to become independent. However, they didn’t stand against the occupants of Carpathian Ukraine either. They fled, leaving 16-17 year olds to defend Ukraine. The young students stood for one day before they were defeated.
That’s how life turned. Hungary created the so-called chornoburashnyk squads which were tracking down the followers of Sich – those who wanted independence for Carpatian Ukraine. These young men, together with the government representatives of Carpathian Ukraine were forced to flee somewhere. Some of them fled to the Soviet Union, some – to Germany. These countries used the fugitives as they wanted. We don’t know for sure how many people went to the Soviet Union. Some say that the figure is close to 17000, some say – 7000. However the deal is that all of them were arrested, convicted and sentenced to exile in the North of Russia or to Siberian concentration communist camps. Some of those who fled to Germany were used by Hitler. Some of them even served in the SS, although not that many. Germany and Hungary were on the same side. Hungary in fact became a satellite for Germany and then in 1941, when the War started, the Carpathian children were forcefully mobilized and sent to the Eastern front. This way, obviously they had to fight on the side of Germany and Hungary. These were the people born in 1919-20s, thus currently retired. In the times of Hungary I studied in a town school. It was a school preparing low level officials and had a program for 4 years of studies. I passed the test for graduating from the 3rd year and went to the 4th year straight away, but then the Soviet forces came by and the school stopped working so I returned home.
Ovsienko V.V.: Where was that school based?
Kampov P.F.: It was based in the village named Chinadievo of the Mukachevo region and in Mukachevo it self. I had certain talent for maths and other sciences. The school was then reformed into a seven-year educational establishment. I studied there for about nine months and then entered the Trading Academy – that’ the name of a middle grade educational establishment in Mukachevo, which prepared middle grade officials. However the Soviet Union did their own way. They narrowed the subject specifications and called this establishment a cooperative technical college. So, at the end, I graduated from a cooperative technical college.
Ovsienko V.V.: When was that?
Kampov P.F.: In 1949. At the time, all who graduated from such cooperative colleges were then obliged to work for 3 years, paying the government back what it had spent for their education. So, I was sent to Mizhgirya (The Intermountain region) as an auditor of the consumer cooperative or, you may say, an accountant of the procurement office. In any case, I only stayed there for 1 year. The government began obliging officials from beyond the Carpathians to shift to the Transcarpathian region. Many of these people, originating mainly from the East of the country were behaving rudely with the locals. I was witness to a situation where the head of the regional procurement office together with his assistant entered the central store and literally grabbed everything they wanted. In addition they organized an official revision of the place. The man who did it, his surname was Tiushkal’, was agitated to run away into the forest, so the government could then officially arrest him and had him imprison for 25 years. This was common in many local villages. I had a cousin named Omelyan Kampov, he was the main doctor in the Luchok village of the Mukachevo region. When he came by and saw all this, he told me: “Run, because these barbarians will imprison you too.”
And then I entered the university.
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was that?
Kampov P.F.: that was in 1950. The maths faculty of the Uzhgorod national university. Thus, I stopped working in the cooperative office. After graduating form the third year I had to leave and start teaching. So I did, and worked as a teacher for 1 year and became the head of the school.
Ovsienko V.V.: Name the places you’ve worked at please.
Kampov P.F.: At first I was a teacher at the middle school of Neresnicia of the Tiachiv region and afterwards I was transferred an eight-class school of Dubove, based in the same region. And there I stayed for 10 long years. I must say that I had only good feeling about the place I worked at – all children were obliged to learn and study. The law on eight-class educational systems began its work and all the teachers battled for the right of children to study. The children then originated mainly from poor families who had nothing to eat because they weren’t getting anything at the kolkhoz they worked at. It came to situations when they get 30kg of grain during the year, children were fainting right during the lessons. The times were rough, one day, there was a situation in Dubove, when people in the kolkhoz stood against such inhumane treatment and killed the director, Madar was his surname. All the people who did this were arrested and sentenced to 25 years.
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was that?
Kampov P.F.: This happened in 1954. All these people were sent to serve their sentences in the concentration camps of Mordovia, because the murder was considered to have had political background to it. Madar in his turn had three children. People with the surnames of Dyket and Berezhnik also had three or four children each. All these children went to the school the head of I was appointed. It was very strange that no one supported them and they stayed hungry. On the other hand, the children of those who committed the murder were also left with no support and starved. Back at the hostel I would gather them and feed them all together. I was in luck to have little understanding of the political side of this situation. It felt like I knew nothing about the tragedy which took place, because some of those parent who died were actually no acquaintances of mine.
This was the first moment in my life when I started thinking about people and their lives. The Soviet Union led a fierce battle against religion. Dubove, for example, was a place where baptists kept their presence for a very long time, but the Soviet government wanted to get rid of them. This resulted in mass beating of baptists by the local authority activists. This was the first time I saw something like that, it was in 1955. The victims, somehow managed to apply a claim to the UNO so the prosecutor of Transcarpathia, Vasil Pavlovich Rusin arrived to check the situation in person. He asked whether it was true the activists had beaten the baptists. In fact, I haven’t seen the process of beating because I was in another room at the time, but I remember replying that I originated from the Mukachevo region, so i’m not local, unlike them. However, I said that I would have never raise a hand against my village neighbor. The prosecutor’s office answer resulted in replacing the local authorities with a new team because the scandal went international.
Back in the Tiachiv region I got acquainted with Dykusariv Volodymyr Grigoriyoviych, in fact we got acquainted earlier, in Mizhgiria. he was a secretary of the regional komsomol commissariat at the time and I wasn’t even part of the komsmol, even though later I had to join because this was inevitable. As I said later we met in Tiachiv, where he held the position of the regional party secretary of the Tiachiv region. In 1959 he had a conversation with the head of the regional administration, Vasil Krivskoy, that I should be replaced, because I’m not a party member. Nevertheless I didn’t let them fire me and left first, transferred to Uzhgorod with the help of the local eduction manager – Vasil’ Vasiliovich Homonay. Previously he was the manager of the Tiachiv regional education department. I’ve been working here since then.
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was that?
Kampov P.F.: In 1960. Just when Dykusariv became the Secretary of the Regional Committee. I applied for substituting the senior teacher in the technical college of the national Uzhgorod university but Dykusariv discharged my application with his veto. And that was in fact the moment I pondered on who I was. I was offered to teach in both the university and the regional committee which wasn’t convenient – working in two places for one salary. At the same time, Dykusariv started having troubles with claims towards his actions on taking bribes from each head of the kolkhoz he assigned for 20 000 rubles. Then someone wrote to Carpathian party Committee not to investigate the case.
The elections to the USSR Verkhovna Rada were on at the time, that was in 1970, and there were anonymous notifications offering not to vote for the communists and to vote for other candidates like the head of the regional committee Haragonych Ivan Hryhorovich, who fled to the Soviet Union from Hungarians some time ago, like a popular Carpathian writer Ivan Chendey and Pavlo Kampov, meaning me. They got my surname wrong by the way, they wrote it without the “v” in the end, whereas it was written “Kampov” in the matriculate, because the word “campoo” originates from a Latin word meaning “field”. That was the reason for Boris Polevoy, a popular Russian writer, whose surname was Kampov, to have changed it to “Polevoy”. However there is no prolonged “o” sound in Ukrainian so they simply wrote a “v” at the end of the word.
An article appeared around the same time, called “25 years of hopes and disappointment”. That was during the 25th anniversary of uniting the Transcarpathian region with the Soviet Union, so the article was then sent to soviet newspapers – the “Pravda”, the “Radyanska Ukraina”, the “Zakarpatska pravda”. The population might have had now knowledge of this but the communist party wanted to secure Dykusariv from the animadversion he faced so they gathered all the facts and incriminated me instead.
Ovsienko V.V.: Do you know who wrote those notifications and the way they were spread?
Kampov P.F.: They were spread widely...
Ovsienko V.V.: How did they look?
Kampov P.F.: Half a page, very brief, but spread in hundreds.
Ovsienko V.V.: Written by hand or typed?
Kampov P.F.: Typed. By the way, the typewriter was never found. From I know today, that typewriter was made long before the Soviet Union. They never found it even though the report stated that the owners surname was Kaniuk, he lived in Uzhgorod and was acquainted to me. That wasn’t the truth.
There was another factor – a new political party called “The party of national restoration of the Carpathian Russ”. Quite well put together – an extract from their program, the tasks of the party and they also spread their agitation by the name of the so called organizational committee, addressing the intellectuals, heads of factories, doctors, authorities. They sent loads of their agitation notifications. Moreover, their program was even sent to the Czechoslovakia consulate in Kiev. The consul just handed it to the KGB. Previously, this party notification has been sent to the head of the Inner Affairs department of the Transcarpathian region applying for the registration of the party as a social organization. Naturally we kept it a secret. I think my arrest took place somewhere around 1977, not 1970. They simply lost the case and they had to hang it on someone.
So then I bought two tickets to Czechoslovakia for me and my wife, for the 16th of June 1970. We have been called up to travel there and we wanted to spend the summer in the Carlsbad so I wrote an application to the university and the regional committee for a vacation. Everything was working out well, I came to work on the 15th and I was told that I would get the vacation payment the next and would be able to leave. And then I came to work on the 16th and was called to the head’s office. He told me that I have to travel to the Hustivskiy region to check the procedure of employing middle school graduates. He said it was urgent, so I had to go there the next day with a group.
I started off to the Daniliv kolkhoz on the 16th of June by car – there were three schools, and we wanted to see how they work.
However, I didn’t make it to the place. I was at a school in Sokrinitsa when an acquaintance of mine approached and asked me out because there was a person there waiting for me. This person was once the secretary of a party organization in the kolkhoz, but I didn’t know that he was currently working in the KGB. He named him self to be colonel Zudov. I thought that he was one of those military employees from Germany or Hungary – there were of those at the time, but he told me that he was actually from the KGB. He offered me to take a ride with him to the town of Hust. They handed me the offense case at the KGB office with my name on it, told me that I was the author of “25 years of hopes and disappointment”, that I have been spreading the notifications against the communist parties, that I created “The party of national restoration of the Carpathian Russ”...
Colonel Zudov advised me to admit my guilt and tell in on my allies. In case I do as told they would let me go. I didn’t know anything they wanted me to know, so I couldn’t give them anything. Then Zudov took me to the central Transcarpathian KGB office where they formed an official arrest. This was on the 16th of June 1970.
They didn’t set me free after that. There were around 11000 people interrogated during that case.
Ovsienko V.V.: Wow!
Kampov P.F.: They didn’t find a single witness. They were shocked. At the time Sherbitsky was the head of the Council of ministers and he sent his man to talk to me. I asked my self why why was it not Shelest who came to me. However, we soon found out what happened to him and it allowed me to conclude that Sherbitsky worked for the KGB his whole life. His referent spent around two hours talking to me and he also thought that I wasn’t involved in the case.
That’s how the case started. It was on for 6 months, and during that time I haven’t signed a single protocol. I simply told them that I will not assist them in eliminating me, I said that there is to discuss because the investigator, Yuriy Pavlovich Bilocerkovec, told me that my sentence will not be less than 10 years. When the referent asked me about my refusal to sign anything, I said: “There is nothing to discuss after such a conversation.”
I lived over all those problems, as all people do. I even took my turn at the madhouse. I remember when I was called up for a conversation by three people: Bilocerkovec – the investigator, Zhabchenko – the head of the local KGB and Dyofordie – the prosecutor. They had an idea that I need to go through an examination. I asked the prosecutor: “Do you really think I need an examination?”. He said: “I think you’re not signing the documents...”, “You know, the power is yours, there are three of us here, and one of us is actually insane. I know you’re taking me to the Kulparkivska psychiatric center...” – I said. When they brought me back I told them that their power concluded that I was not insane, so this meant that one the two other people in the room was insane. Can you imagine that I was right? In four years Bilocerkovec was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain and passed away tied to a clinical bed in Kiev.
Ovsienko V.V.: Bilocerkovec was the guy who battered you?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, that’s the one.
Ovsienko V.V.: And how did that happen?
Kampov P.F.: He was a very nervous man, always taking pills. During one of the internations he said: “Are you going to sign this or not?”. When I declined his offer he came closer and hit me in the face, then grabbed me by my clothes and hit my face against the wall. I didn’t count on that, I was relaxed, so he did a good job. My chest started bleeding.
Ovsienko V.V.: Through the mouth?
Kampov P.F.: The head of the prison said that I was handed to the investigator in good health and he’s not going to take responsibility for my injuries. On the next day they took me to the TB clinical center. The doctors stated that the bleeding from inside my chest took place as a result of a hit. The KGB tried as hard as they could to keep this inside but the doctor wrote the truth. This was followed by a cardiac examination – in case the blood was from the heart. The result was negative. I got a red eye after the beating but they decided not to take me to an eye specialist. If they would’ve, however, my eye wouldn’t have gone blind. My eye was first attended after some time at the Kuchino concentration camp. I remember the doctor’s name – Herasimenko Nadiya. She looked into my eye and stated optic atrophy. Then a KGB examination group arrived and granted me with the second disability group. I never asked for this, but it all resulted in claims that I intentionally lied about having a disability during my second trial.
I’ll jump ahead a bit. A medical examination in Siberia, separate from the KGB, also gave me the second disability group. When I came back to Uzhgorod I had to go through another medical examination, but my eye just started aching again, so they gave the first disability group so I would be getting a pension with additional 10 uah.
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean rubles?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, rubles. So that was my second prison. In fact, my second sentence was in 1981, related to Kandiba Ivan who was also sentenced then.
When they sentenced him, they found my letters. Ivan was ill so I sent him medicine. The Transcarpathian region was always a bit easier to live in because it was near the border. After finding my letters, they searched my apartment and sentenced me for the second time.
But let’s return to the previous subject. The trial continued for 8 days. I was accused of righting the “25 years of hopes and disappointment” book, of anti-communist agitations during the elections and of harassment against governmental representatives.
Ovsienko V.V.: What harassment are you talking about?
Kampov P.F.: They said that I wrote a letter to the Transcarpathian regional committee vilifying Dykusariv, even though his name never came in any materials on the case. In the end they never protocoled the fact that he Dykusriv was accused of taking bribes and other criminal affairs. Which, of course helped him, because he was the second secretary of the regional committee here and then became the first secretary in Chernivci. After that he was transferred to the Khmelnitsky region. He was fired only in 1991, after Sherbitsky was fired, because everybody was tired of his crimes, even the Central Committee. I my self, factually, became a victim as the result of the party’s actions to secure Volodymyr Dykusariv. They had to find someone to accuse of defamation aiming at weakening the Soviet Union. That’s what’s written in my personal sentence file.
Did the Committee find witnesses? Yes, they did.
Ovsienko V.V.: They did?
Kampov P.F.: they found some people named Lev Mikhailovich Aristarhov and Andriy Leontovich Tron’. They were working in the pedagogic institute. Aristarhov originated from Sumskiy region and Anriy Tron’ – from Poltavsky region. The father of Aristarhov held the position of head of the German police in his region and was sentenced to imprisonment or executed, I don’t know for sure. The father of Andriy Tron’ was a German elder in one of the villages of Poltavska region. Thus the KGB had either fascists or their kind as witnesses: those people were ready to do anything to keep their lives.
The Supreme Court didn’t want to accept the sentence for a half a year. I wasn’t asked any questions anymore. The KGB employees went round ways just to avoid me, even though I spent most of the time in a solitary cell. I spent a whole year there.
Ovsienko V.V.: Including the period during the trial?
Kampov P.F.: Yes.
Ovsienko V.V.: And you never had any spies transferred to your cell?
Kampov P.F.: Once. He stayed for two hours.
Ovsienko V.V.: I read that you had neither radio nor newspapers – absolute isolation.
Kampov P.F.: I saw nothing and nobody except the officers. I had no radio or newspapers to read. There was just the cell and me in it.
Ovsienko V.V.: Were you given books?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, I was. And then, when my eye started hurting they took away the books and said the eye hurts because I read.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was one tough regime you faced.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, that’s what it was. The only positive thing was that the prison held few people. There were times when I was the only prisoner there.
Ovsienko V.V.: In the whole prison?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. There were 13 cells.
Ovsienko V.V.: This was a special KGB prison?
Kampov P.F.: Yes.
Ovsienko V.V.: So, basically the whole prison was working just for you?
Kampov P.F.: All staff members. Some of the officers, guarding me were wondering why should they guard me like that. There was this one time when I was let into the inner yard. It had buildings all around and the sky above me. I would be left for 6 hours just sitting there. Once up on a time a sheet of paper was thrown down to me. It said: “Aristarhov and Tron’ will be testifying against you” and it had an explanation of who these people were. This meant that the prison actually had people sympathizing me.
I remember when the deputy chief of the prison, Smirnov, asked me to teach his son. Later his son came to the trial and asked to see me, because his own son was asking about me, saying that I was imprisoned by mistake. He actually got to see me and ask of why was I held there. There were actually people there who sympathized me. One of the guards there was a historian student and he had to report to his students weekly on how I was living in th prison. There was another strange situation when I was brought food during the night on the Easter night. The guy originated from Saratovsky region. You know, I even checked later on: he brought it him self, on his own will.
It was hard being imprisoned. The played me. They allowed my wife to take my clothes, wash it and bring it back, they allowed her to bring me food.
Ovsienko V.V.: How often did they allow these packages to come through?
Kampov P.F.: Sometimes, once a week. My wife didn’t do it however. She was scared. I was normally given food from the prison kitchen. There was plenty of food, it was not a problem. The isolation was a problem, it was hard to be isolated.
I remember this one time... The letter about the “25 years of hopes and disappointment” contained this one fact: people who were awaiting communism but couldn’t get employed, started thinking that they were born with a sin, which was there place of birth – the Transcarpathian region. All of them were called up for interrogations, like I was. It was the first time when the guards ordered me to face the wall with my hands behind my head. I had no idea of how to do it, so asked them to show me. The guard took the position and I just slipped back into the cell. The isolation was so tough that I don’t know how I survived. Later, however, I found out what these people from filled prisons behave like, and thought that isolation is not such a bad thing after all.
Ovsienko V.V.: I read that you actually acquired a meeting with your mother at some point. Was that after the trial?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, that happened afterwards.
Ovsienko V.V.: Did she tell you about the elections?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, she did.
Ovsienko V.V.: Do you remember the trial date?
Kampov P.F.: yes, it took place on the 29th of December.
Ovsienko V.V.: I thought, you said it was on for 8 days.
Kampov P.F.: It started earlier. It started some time before the 21st of December 1970. My mother asked the head of the prison about the reason of my sentence. Because you know, there were these horrible rip-off artists, who came to my home village and said that I had been forging the national currency.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, I’ve heard of this.
Kampov P.F.: They said that I tricked the people to vote for me. That there were 38 000 people who voted for me to be elected to Verkhovna Rada. My mother said that if 38 000 people voted for me she can pass away happy.
While serving my sentence I had plenty of time to think about the meaning of life and to make the right choices for the future. I mean, that if a person is accused of something he or she hasn’t done, the person gains the instinct of fighting for their rights. The KGB prison was better than ordinary prisons in some respect, but much worse in something else. The thing is that I was isolated in a giant room of about 30 square meters. With wooden floors, a slightly separated toilet and big windows with matte glass behind bars. It was warm there, yes. The house was built back in the times Czechoslovakia for a secret police department, meaning the KGB. And this administrative building was redecorated to be prison serving the communist demons. It might have been a good idea after all, because those who’d been imprisoned by the KGB before 1953 were serving their sentences in basements, with almost no windows. The basements were made of stone and so was the floor...
The hard part is the isolation. During that year the only people I saw were the guards and the investigators. I didn’t even know what day of the week was it. I had no paper, no pencils, no radio, no newspapers – I had nothing. There was a bed, you could say it was a good one. They gave me a blanket, so I didn’t suffer from being cold. I was fed with food from the ordinary prison, made for around 1500 people, they called that place “The American” because that prison was built by an American project. Once a week I was taken there to shower. I was very scared of that big prison, it scared my. The stairs there were metal and the acoustics were good – the guards could be sitting in one corner and hearing everything going on the whole prison. Those capitalists new their job when building the place.
My prison was, in fact, a cabinet, a working office with just one difference – the door had been changed, it was a strong wooden door covered with metal. I had no idea about what prisons were like, I didn’t know that there was an eye in the door allowing them to sneak on me and see everything I was doing. One night they started shouting at me, telling to keep my head above the blanket, to which I asked: “How did you know my head was covered?” Only on the third day have a I discovered two little windows allowing them to sneak on me.
At first they were giving me books to read. That was before I was battered by the investigator Yuriy Bilocerkivec, who was a really nervous guy. I only found out about his tumor and died insane after I was released from the prison. Sometimes he tried to tell me jokes, sometimes he would get angry straight away and start shouting. And so there was this one time when he got really angry that I didn’t want to sign the protocol. My case consisted of 7 tomes. The KGB interrogated around 10 000 people but only used around 200 of them, which they added to my case file, throwing away all unneeded cases. So the investigator was really cross with me for not signing the protocol, he approached me, hit me in my left eye, then he hit me against the wall and and I started bleeding. After I had been released I traveled to Western Germany and Canada for medical checks. They confirmed my diagnosis, optic atrophy, but said that they can’t cure it. They just said I should my right eye working.
Back in the prison there was a guard checking me in the night, I knew nothing about that, because he never woke me up. I had this other guard – Ivan Ivanovich, he was Russian, a former KGB prison guardsman in Vladivostok. He was the kind who would get drunk and fall asleep during his job. The corridors had Chinese carpets 5 centimeters thick, so I never heard anyone walking. The good thing was that they didn’t need to walk me anywhere and I my self didn’t really want to go out to the inner yard. I only agreed to go there after a really long time in locked up premises.
In short, I was all locked up like in a metal box, where no one could get me and I couldn’t get to anyone. The guards didn’t fear me from what I remember, there was this one guardsman – Zhidkov, he was the one driving me to shower every time. He was once caught by general Zhabchenko, who told him that he shouldn’t transport me alone, he should always take two more people. Zhidkov answered that he was sure that I wouldn’t neither run away nor attempt to attack him. There was a strange atmosphere. On one hand they didn’t fear me physically, on the other hand they were scared of my spirit.
And then, in 1971, they told me that I shall be transported to a concentration camp. General Zhabchenko came to me and said that I should be aware of what’s going to happen. He said that here, in Uzhgorod, I knew everyone, but I will surrounded by totally unknown people in the place I will be transported to. He told me to be careful, because no one will be paying so much attention to me there like they did here, studying me and finding out what I am capable of or what I would never do.
What else can I say about the investigation? Colonel Zudov was my first interrogator, he, by the way, kept working in the Transcarpathian region until his death. I recently met those people he interrogated back in 1944, while he was still part of the SMERSH team. They said he needed no investigation or other case procedures. He started as a junior lieutenant and became a colonel. Zudov, I must say was the true butcher of the Transcarpathian people.
There was this other guy, major Uvin, originating from Perm’. I guess they were all alcoholics, because their own minds couldn’t hold the tortures they committed during the interrogations. This Uvin guy often came drunk and ask questions on separate situations. So, there were three main figures working on my case: Zudov, Uvin and the main guy – Bilocerkivec. One may assume, that Uvin was playing a liberal role, throwing me a newspaper sometimes, during the questioning, letting me read for at least a few minutes while he was asking questions. Zudov, in his turn, would tell me that Bilocerkivec was the real butcher, and even he, Zudov, was called a liberal by the main Investigator, so I should be very careful. I still can’t understand what was their aim, when saying all those things. However, even Bilocerkivec once said: “Don’t be surprised by my behavior. If I behave softer, they would replace me with someone else, who would behave rough with you. And I would simply be thrown out. I am a soldier and I have orders. I would be happy to share a bottle of vodka with you, but sadly, we met under totally different circumstances.” I don’t even remember how I started screaming when he hit me. Two other investigators came in after my screams, saw the situation and said to Bilocerkivec that it was very stupid to hit a man like me. However, they turned around and left after that.
There were only two times when they tried to set me up by transferring people into my prison cell. One time it a man from Tiachiv, Rusnak was his surname. That was the year when Transcarpathia was flooded like in 1998, when the river Tisa destroyed half of Tiachiv. Rusnak went to Hungary then, to his relatives, asking for some money to rebuild his house. He was caught on the border, the money was confiscated and he was imprisoned. Later, they found someone to convince the officers that he should be released and so he was. He stayed with me for two hours.
The other guy was from the town of Hust. He was smuggling 1000 baby feeders in the tire of his car. He was caught and sentenced for 6 years of imprisonment. The next time I saw new people was when they took me to Lviv for medical checks. There I met a general who had also been imprisoned. He used to serve in Hungary where he was accused of something and imprisoned in Uzhgorod. I don’t know whether he was playing or actually insane, but he was jumping on the walls and shouting: “Dad! Dad, they substituted me!” I was very scared when I first saw him and the guards beating him.
But, as they say, the world isn’t without good people. I found a janitor in the hospital, and asked him to send a letter for me. I couldn’t send letters home, because I knew that my house was being officially followed by the government. I didn’t state any addresses, like my mother’s address or my brother’s address. I wrote the letter to good friends who were acquainted with my family. I wrote a very short letter saying where I was, how I was treated and I asked for them to try and defend me somehow. Strangely, the janitor actually sent the letter and my relatives received it in a few days. Moreover, the intellectuals tried to influence the KGB on releasing me. This was done by a docent of the Uzhgorod university, who used to be my teacher and then my colleague at work – Yuriy Kovach, a writer, Michailo Tomchaniy and a few other teachers, who worked with me in the university. They were told to keep this a secret, so it wouldn’t play a bad trick on them.
A few words about the witnesses. I already mentioned that the KGB questioned over 11 000 people.
Ovsienko V.V.: A very unusual situation!
Kampov P.F.: All KGB officers of acceptable rank were called up from the neighboring towns for providing interrogations. There were also many officers from the Ukrainian committee of their ministry. All that didn’t help however. All they could get was that I’m a person with an inner bottom and that my actions and my words shouldn’t be trusted.
I am very thankful to the people of Transcarpathia. Hundreds of people had been questioned and interrogated in town of Dubove, the town I worked at for 10 years. All Bilocerkivec could get was that people saw me as an especially law abiding citizen and couldn’t even imagine me braking the law.
During the first plenum of the Communist Party of Ukraine, KGB general Zhabchenko made a speech concerning my trial. He said that the National Security Services found no social prerequisites for me to be anti-communist. He also said that I was a person, destroyed by my own ambitions. I knew that the KGB were preparing a giant article for the regional media, they delegated this to a poplar Transcarpathian journalist – Mikhailo Bobidorych. Once the article was prepared, the journalist, together with his staff, received a note from Kiev, telling them to keep all the work on my arrest and sentence a secret. Thus the KGB decided to keep my story a secret. I was told of this by Mikhailo Bobidorych, who had been working on the article for the last two months together with Bilocerkivec. Mikhailo said that he hadn’t finished the article, because Bilocerkivec denied the journalist a meeting with me with no serious reason. As a result my story didn’t become widely known. Only my parents knew, and they weren’t talking much. They were scared them selves. Besides, all my friends and acquaintances had also been questioned. I guess that they’d been told to keep quiet.
Ovsienko V.V.: But that’s 11 000 people questioned. They are they the wide audience, aren’t they?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, they are.
Ovsienko V.V.: They knew something, didn’t they?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, the did. Nevertheless they didn’t want to tell anyone of it.
Ovsienko V.V.: Did they call out your name when questioning all those people?
Kampov P.F.: They certainly did. The court trial was very interesting to watch. They called for 30 people as witnesses. They said that the knew me, met me before, named the place and time of our meetings. However, almost all of them said they knew nothing of my anti-communist doings. Only two people said that I mentioned to them about creating the Party of the Carpathian Russ. Aristarhov was the one who said it. He was just a employee worker, but his father as I heard had been a policeman in Sumi and Aristarhov him self had been a member of the Communist Party. So he was one of those lads, who’d say anything they were ordered to. During that court trial I told the judge all the details about Aristarhov, to which the judge addressed the prosecutor with the next question: “Why don’t you call Hitler personally to testify against Kampov?”. After that the judge ended the trial and everything was quiet for three days. They say that the KGB right then were in the process of brainwashing judge Ludvig Andriyovich Hiriz.
The second witness to have testified against me said Andriy Tron’ from Poltavska region. His parents had been officials during the German occupation. Thus the KGB were using those people who were scared or those who somehow fell into disfavor of the Soviet government and defended them selves more than accused me.
The main document against me were the “25 years of hopes and disappointment”. I wouldn’t say it was anti-communist though. It was a scientific document based on facts. It link to political views was based on the statement that the union of Transcarpathia with the Soviet Union was a fake. In the book they called it a forcible union, which was true anyway. The document also stated that the manifest on this union, handed over to the people by Bolsheviks for signing had been forged. The population of Transcarpathia at that time was 800 000 people but there were somehow 18 000 000 signatures in the document. This happened because every living human on this territory had to sign this document numerous times: at home, at work, at the village administration... So we may assume that it actually had been fabricated. By the way, the union happened not because of this manifest, it happened after the negotiations between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. The agreement on handing Transcarpathia to the Soviet Union by Czechoslovakia was signed on the 29th of June 1946. the manifest issue took place in November 1944. It didn’t oblige anyone to anything – it was an agitation advertisement. There is an interesting issue in all this: during the negotiations, there were only Russian and Czech representatives present. No one represented Transcarpathia, even though there was an independent country then, called the Transcarpathian Ukraine. It was only two years old, but it had a fully working government. I knew of that because my brother, Mikhailo Kampov was the Minister of Justice in that country.
I’d like to step aside from the main topic a bit. At that time, Moscow as the center of power, raised the question on deporting all the Transcarpathian people from their homeland and the officials had been discussing this issue during the Politburo meeting. I remember Mikhailo Kampov, the Minister of Justice of Transcarpathian Ukraine telling his brother about it during the night. That’s almost 1 000 000 people. However, the communists didn’t do it in the end. I guess, the reason is that the land wasn’t theirs, it belonged to Czechoslovakia. Moreover, its allies – England, France, the USA – were against such treatment. We were lucky, luckier than the numerous national minors like the Chechen people, Kalmyk people and Crimean Tatars who had approximately the same population as us. You know, at that time we were called Russins (not to be mixed with Russian) but took no offense of that name because there were more Russins than just the inhabitants of the Transcarpathian Russ. The Lemke people, currently being part of Poland were also Russins, the same as part of Halychyna. A grand person of our time – Ivan Franko, considered himself Russin for many years. I am only saying this to explain that it’s nothing to be ashame of. It’s not about being ashame of it, but about being proud that something like that took place in our lives. It’s truly a part of our Ukrainian nation, which lived through quite a complicated history. So anyway, we, Russins, didn’t all get deported, so you could say we were lucky.
So the “25 years of hopes and disappointment” were lying before me. I asked for a copy of it when they released me from the prison. I think it should be soon published as part of the collection, and if my own book gets published, it will be published in the same way. It consists of a number of chapters. The first one is more of a small historical introduction. The second part tells of the so-called union. We talk today of the manifest on the union but we say nothing of the soviet generals who arrested and deported minister Neimiti of Czechoslovakia from Transcarpathia, which had been called the Carpathian Russ at the time and was part of Czechoslovakia. Overlooking the fact that the Soviet Union stood against the Munich Agreement, the Vienna arbitration claimed it to be invalid since it had been created. As a result – Transcarpathia, or the Carpathian Russ, stayed part of Czechoslovakia.
This article holds a very interesting fact. There was some unknown to me major living in Mukachiv. He was walking around telling his neighbors that he was always told about the West of Ukraine as of a place of absolute poverty, where people live dugouts. However, when he came here himself he was much surprised by how people had been fooled for so long, considering that Transcarpathia was nearly the wealthiest part of Ukraine. Firstly, this territory hasn’t been destroyed during the procedure of the soviet forces, which headed for Poland and Romania, whereas the military forces of Carpathian Russ, factually headed back. There was just one battle with the Hungarian forces at the town of Chop as a border town between us and Hungary. The article states of occupation military forces methods. We don’t use this name anymore, but I remember the town covered in notes saying: “the commandant of the occupation forces”, because they were acting on the territory of another country. They started from obliging the civilians to bring them meat and grain and to additionally feed them. They continued by implementing a labor obligation, where each man had to work on rebuilding what had been destroyed with no payment. Almost straight away they started exporting our wood – Transcarpathia was always rich with forests. My cousin, Ivan Kampov, was the head of the Transcarpathian forests and I remember how he was being ordered to send a certain amount of wood to the Ukrainian mainland daily and so on. And I must admit that it was fair. Ukraine was ruined unlike Transcarpathia. People had nowhere to live. Some people ask about what have we received from Ukraine for rebuilding our land. It’s the other way round, Ukraine was receiving help from us.
Everyone remembers the famine of 1946-1947. Ukraine and Moldova had no harvest that year. Transcarpathia had a great harvest that year, but the people acted greedy – they started selling food around, especially to Moldova and, as a result, Transcarpathia also started starving. That could’ve been foreseen, because a region as small as ours couldn’t have fed the whole of Ukraine. Nevertheless we may say that our help to Moldova was crucial, because it was an autonomous Ukrainian republic at the time and had no importance for the Soviet Union.
We may also see that the Soviet government hasn’t built a single house in Transcarpathia in 25 years. On the contrary – they took away our black oil processing factory, which stood in Mukachiv; they took the match factory from Chinadiv. In case you didn’t know, there was a period, when Ukraine didn’t have a single match factory on its territory. They even took away the tobacco factory from Mukachiv. Thus, we may say that they built nothing here. Only 1970 some building processes started in Transcarpathia. And I consider a possibility that the “25 years of hopes and disappointment” has played its role. After all they did discuss it at the Politburo meetings of the Central Committee of the Communist Part of Ukraine. Ilnickiy Yuriy Vasiliovich, if I remember correctly, even took it to Moscow, and I may assume that it gave some positive results. Construction works started in several parts of Transcarpathia. Especially, these construction works took place in the parts of high unemployment, so basically this did help Transcarpathia in terms of economical establishment. The regional authorities used the gained information to apply leverage on Kiev and Moscow. I may also assume that my imprisonment actually brought some amendment to ordinary people. Nowadays many people, including Russians, say that there are 200 000 unemployed people in Transcarpathia who travel ro Hungary or Czechoslovakia. Allow me answer that by reading an article from 1970:
“Approximately 200 000 are forced to leave their region every month to earn a living for their families. Over 50% of women originating from the mountainous parts of Transcarpathia, like Rahiv, Tiachiv, Mizhgirya, Hust, Irshava are uoccupied. Thus, when the Soviet Union claimed to have no unemployed people, Transcarpathia had 300 000 people with no employment.”
And no one denied that. I believe that the Party could have as well did something for that. When I came back in 1977, I saw that Transcarpathia was different – hundreds of multiple floor buildings have been built in Mukachiv and Uzhgorod. I think that the Soviet government wasn’t sure whether they will keep Transcarpathia or will have to return it to Hungary, so the USSR decided not to invest any money into it, there were no roads (they just used the roads built by Czechoslovakian people). In fact, the Soviet government then destroyed those roads, because as we know they only took their forces through Transcarpathia twice: in 1956 to occupy Hungary, and in 1968 to occupy Czechoslovakia. I remember the night when the tanks proceeded across the border, one after another, to the neighboring countries. There were some stories of kolkhoz construction works, by an anonymous author Petro Pidcarpatskiy, who stated that collectivization was all a torture of the body and soul of the nation. In fact, all those freewill collective kolkhoz units were never freewill – they were governmental enterprises with people forcibly working there under the boot of Bolsheviks. I remember that back in 1991, just after Ukraine gained its independence, the newspapers wrote that the Varyats, who had been brought to Transcarpathia were active supporters of the collective kolkhoz idea. Now, however, it’s not considered to be something good.
A big part of the “25 years of hope and disappointment” is dedicated to different individuals. We already know that Transcarpathia took almost 10 000 people brought from the East to keep the lead here. We read today of 1945 when Transcarpathia, in case you didn’t know, had no official documents claiming it part of the Soviet Union. There was a revision of employees and all those considered to be untrustworthy were fired. All the priests had been imprisoned and the bishop was killed. All this is written in the little document of 25 pages.
Ovsienko V.V.: What was the bishop’s name?
Kampov P.F.: Rumzha. He first assassinated by the military forces near Mukachiv, but they failed. He was taken to the Mukachiv hospital in time to be cured, but in the night a nurse came and injected him with poison, which was lethal. Bishop named Hyra was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment together with life long exile from Transcarpathia. He died and was buried in Karaganda. Sadly, his body still remains there. An not just his... The story of President Voloshyn is a bit different of course, because they never found out exactly about the whereabouts of his grave. The Soviet Scientists weren’t precise enough. Any source we tried would tell us the Transcarpathia was a very poorly educated region, that nobody really studied here. The truth is that in 1944 the number of pupils and students of Transcarpathia reached 140 000. During the Soviet times their number reached 190 000, although we should take into account that there were 10 000 people simply rotated into the region, and many of them had taken their families with them. On the other hand the university had its best days in the Soviet times... In short the “25 years of hopes and disappointment” tried to get the whole picture of what was going in Transcarpathia during soviet times. The government arrested around 75 000 people in three years. The whole population of Hungarian and German men aging between 18 and 60 had to go through arrests. 26 000 of those people had later been deported to Svaliava, where they, in fact, remain... They had been put into so-called filtrating concentration camps where half of those people just died. To this day, they say that Transcarpathia celebrates the 26th of November as the day of the union manifest. But the truth is that on this day 26 000 people had been deported to concentration camps. And our historians – still soviet, because we have no other – don’t really want to talk about this. The only nation to have made the list of these people were Hungarians. Those people haven’t been rehabilitated to this day.
I heard a story recently about Ukrainian government claiming refunds for those Ukrainians who had been forcibly transferred to work in Germany. Somehow, however, the Ukrainian government doesn’t say that if they do this today, then tomorrow Ukraine will have to pay the same refunds back to Germans and Hungarians, who had been deported. They were never even given the status of political prisoners.
The second point is back in 1945 all Transcarpathian children, born in the period of 1926 to 1931 were deported to Donbass and to some industrial regions of Russia and Ukraine. They were taken forcibly, for obligatory military service, about 40 000 people. Almost all the children managed to escape but were sentenced to imprisonment for 3 to 6 years. This way we can see that all men born inside the period of 1926 to 1931 have previous convictions. I, being the head of the political prisoners Society, even stated the question in front of the government and the regional court. I asked them to release those children of their convictions. I must say that they liked my idea but unfortunately, all the cases had been burnt, because the communists burnt down everything they messed up. So 40 000 cases had been burnt and lost so we agreed that we would have to be canceling these convictions right during the court, once we find any, because they don’t contribute to the Law of Verkhovna Rada iss.1991 on rehabilitation.
Ovsienko V.V.: They were taken to factory colleges, yes?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, but forcibly. Those kids were running away all the time. They would chased down in trains and their brought to justice right there with no trial. We may assume that there is no part of Ukraine to have suffered what these kids did. 117 000 people had been eliminated by the Madiars, almost 14 000 political prisoners, sentenced by Tribunal or the local courts, 40 000 children. One third of the Transcarpathian population has been repressed and if others weren’t killed they would be maimed. And Ukraine understood the message I remember when I was brought to the concentration camp №17...
Ovsienko V.V.: In Mordovia?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, the Polianozubovsky region...
Ovsienko V.V.: The Oziorniy village.
Kampov P.F.: So there was a guy there named Mikhailo Soroka – husband of popular person at the time, Katerina Zarytska. She was famous for being actively pro-Ukrainian since her childhood. Her father, by the way, was my professor back in the university, teaching mathematics. We would have never guessed that this person had such a complicated trauma – his only daughter imprisoned in a soviet prison.
Ovsienko V.V.: She served her term – 25 years.
Kampov P.F.: So then I was told that Transcarpathia didn’t really have any movement under the name of Stepan Bandera. They all said: “What movement are you talking about? All your men have been destroyed.” The Carpathian Ukraine didn’t fight at first, so all men were destroyed there, then the Madiars did the same and then the Soviet government did its part. This is the tragedy of Transcarpathia and I think it’s sad that most of Ukraine doesn’t know of this and keeps pointing at Transcarpathia as at a region that didn’t take part in the national competition straight after the War. If my book had been published there would have a change, because all the needed information is in there – statistical data, taken from the governmental statistics and checked.
One more thing. Transcarpathian people have a certain distrust towards Ukraine which has a base to it... Those 10 000 – 14 000 people who had been deported after 1945 never became friends with Transcarpathia. They never made friends with the locals, they made friends with Russians, also simply rotated to here. All this found its place in the consciousness of local people, so all who were different gained the name “Easterns” or “out-of-towners”.
Ovsienko V.V.: Factually, they weer occupants...
Kampov P.F.: Yes, factually they were.
Ovsienko V.V.: Which had been occupying this land alongside Russians.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, and since Ukraine is now free, I may say that there was a conflict between the people from Halychyna and the people of Transcarpathia, which also had its cause – the refugees from Halychyna were informers back home. So they ran from justice. In other words, the refugees weren’t the nicest people to gain as neighbors. These people stood against the locals the moment Ukraine gained independence. This conflict isn’t so active now, because the locals found their way to solve these issues.
By the way, the population of Uzhgorod has around 60 families from Halychyna, who were forcibly deported to the East with no trial, as homeless refugees (a social category back then). Those released Transcarpathians were never let back to Transcarpathia, but these people were.
Ovsienko V.V.: And what about the people from Halychcyna?
Kampov P.F.: They had also been let back. There are about 15 families of Halychyna residents who had been sentenced but currently rehabilitated. They also came back to Uzhgorod after 1953. However, the Transcarpathians weren’t allowed back in. I don’t want to offend anyone but they probably serviced the custom officers somehow. The Transcarpathians who had been released were obliged to travel to Kazakhstan... In short, all the quarrels between the Transcarpathians and other Ukrainians had their grounds. However, I think this inner border will be terminated. There are different people inside Transcarpathia too and some of them abuse their rights. I believe the time will come when all of this will settle. I’ll explain: we had this Committee secretary from Lviv – Henrik Bandrovskiy. His doings in Transcarpathia are hard to compare with anything at all, maybe Himmler’s doings. He was sent here in 1980 and he was the one to have sent me to prison for the second time.
Ovsienko V.V.: Was He Ukrainian or Polish perhaps?
Kampov P.F.: He is considered to be Ukrainian. He knew, by the way, that he would get a comfortable life here, because we must have had mutual national understanding or we would be otherwise destroyed.
I should say that we had whole German villages on our territory. For example the village Krupec’ – around 1000 people, Kuchaeva – around 400, another village had 300 more people. Ushorne village had just Germans in it. Significantly, these people never worked as informers on Russins. In return these Germans were payed back by the Ukrainians in the same manner. When the Soviet power came to us, not one Transcarpathian went informing on Germans, because those were the dear people who lived beside for hundreds of years. There have been conflicts of course. Visitors from throughout Ukraine never liked Hungarians, for example. Some of the Hungarians, in there turn started hunting the Transcarpathians down in 1939. However, when the Soviet power came, Transcarpathians didn’t go informing them of everything going on here, and thus kept there nation. This is a very important moment, because they all could’ve been killed.
Let’s take me, for example, I traveled numerous times to Lviv region. And I was always told of each house and the type of people living there: pro-ukrainian or pro-soviet, thus the house of informers. At home we never had this. It was seldom someone openly worked for the KGB, and my trial is the proof of that.
Ovsienko V.V.: No witnesses?
Kampov P.F.: Where? They couldn’t find a single person out of 10 000 to tell a word on me. It’s a big thing! No, they didn’t worry about me, didn’t fight for me – it’s their business. The day I was set free, on the 1st of September 1989, there was a demonstration in Lviv organized by local writers about my release, whereas there was no such thing in Uzhgorod. That’s the Solomon Transcarpathian self-defense issue and it has its bad sides – we don’t like squealing but neither do we like defending. It’s a strongly negative character.
Ovsienko V.V.: What about professor Chuchka? You said nothing of him.
Kampov P.F.: What can I possibly say? It’s his own tragedy. In fact, no one could provide proof that Kampov wrote the “25 years of hopes and disappointment”. They didn’t find the typewriter, they had no witnesses. They even created a linguistic expertise consisting of Pavlo Lisoviy – head of the department of Ukrainian literature, originating from Ternopil region, Pavlo Chuchka – docent of the Ukrainian literature department of the Uzhgorod university and a Russian guy, also a docent but of the department of Russian language – his surname Soleniuk.
Why am I distinguishing Pavlo Chuchka, you would ask, if there had been three of them? Their expertise act claimed that I was the author of “25 years of hopes and disappointment”. However, the act also claimed that this document had been corrected a number of times, so I posed a question during the trial: How did you conclude me as the author, if the document has been corrected more than once even?”
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean that the author’s style could’ve been changed?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, and that claim made the experts roll back, but Pavlo Chuchka said that he would stay until the end and prove me to be the author.
Ovsienko V.V.: Oh! So he had his own initiative without pressure?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, he caught me, according to him, by one word. Us, Transcarpathians, we pronounce the village name as ChinadiOvo, not ChinadiEvo, and when I was making my speech at the trial I said the non-local way, so he thought he’d caught me on that. “Where do they pronounce it with an “O”?”, I asked. “Mukachiv, Svaliavskiy, Voliveckiy and Uzhgorod regions”, he replied. “There are 350 000 people there, so on what basis do you point out one person out of 350 000?”
By the way, when I returned home he was running an election campaign to enter Verkhovna Rada.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was in 1990?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. And I stood up on a meeting and told 10 000 people, of what he really was, in his presence. Ih ad a talk with him later, you know. He told me that at the time of the trial he had doctor’s degree to deed, so he had to do what he did… I replied to that: “I had a dissertation too. But you never thought that Kampov might also have a family, did you?”
We must understand something very clearly. People like that still cover up as patriots among us, like Pavlichenko for example. They keep betraying those around and themselves too. Dmitro Pavlichenko and Ivan Drach - they betrayed Chornovol. They revealed themselves as people who can not be trusted and will never change - like Chuchka. It’s true however, that these are our writers, and we will never find any other like them, but these aren’t the people to be trusted. They only praise there own and mock all others. I once had a discussion about Ostap Vishnia and the feuilleton “The independent fray” which was considered, by some, to be his. We should agree to the fact that the communists were destroying everything around them, including themselves, by writing false reports on interrogations which took place. That’s something uneasy to understand at some point. However, we come to understanding overlooking the possibility that even if they had my fingers slammed by a door, I probably still wouldn’t have signed anything they forced me to. It’s a tragedy of the Ukrainian nation - we are used to finding our way out of trouble instead of evading it in the first place. Even today we see that even though we’re building a new country, we still look back incase Russia is planning to return its power on our territory. By the way, reading all the criticism towards my people in some articles I wrote (and I hope it never happens) that the nomenclature of Ukraine will be handed to Russia again. If Ukraine will surrender to Russia, then let it surrender all but us, Transcarpathians. We don’t want such life. Sadly, we are so uncertain as a nation that even our hymn says «God, save Ukraine for us!». God, but not ourselves. And God will, but we have to do something too. We can’t hope to be saved without working towards the goal. It’s like an excuse: God didn’t give it to us, so we don’t have it, although we shoud have...
We had Ukraine as a country back in 1919, a united country after the East merged with the West, without Transcarpathia though. Today we say that Ukraine is one, but Transcarpathians for example have an issue, because our people live in other places, like the Priashivsky region with hundreds of thousands of people there, in Romania — Segot and Maramorishina. The eastern people call it a unity, the western don’t, because a certain number of them lives in other countries. And another thing: Slovakia provides possibilities for self establishment, Romania doesn’t. Romania has almost no schools.
There is, however, some freedom now. Any Transcarpathian may purchase a voucher and travel to his friends or relatives to Slovakia or Romania. But Ukraine as a coutry is half-turned towards Russia, so when Romania, Hungary and Slovakia become NATO members, the possibility of easy travel will fade. So id Ukraine claimed to move towards Europe, then it should be done without exceptions, because the borders might simply be closed down. What needs to happen for the borders (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czeck Republic, Romania) to stay open? Closed down borders with Russia. Europe is prepared to see Ukrainians but they don’t want 180 000 000 Russians coming over. Politics require such approach — if we wnat no border with the West, we should build up a border with the East. It will not work any other way, because Europe will not cope with such numbers of people.
Do we have certain progress in what we’re doing? Never have Transcarpathians been as decentralized as in Hungary, where they lived since the times of Russins. Let’s take the Marya Pouch monastry as an example. It’s greco-catholic. It’s not, however, a Hungarian monastry, even though the service is done in Madjar language. They have a progress there: Russins have been accepted as a nation in Hungary, have been provided a school and a representative in the parliament. They haven’t been accepted as Ukrainians, but they were accepted as Slavs, so, we can say it’s a start.
We have this issue and it’s a serious one: accepting Russins as a nation. No one knows how will this issue be settled. It has been, however, settled in the USA, Slovakia, Hungary...
Ovsienko V.V.: And what about former Yugoslavia?
Kampov P.F.: Yugoslavia too. But not in Ukraine. I discussed this issue with the Minister of Statistics and he said that if Russins were ever to be accepted as a separate nation in the population census, it would bring inconvenience for Ukraine. To be honest, it is hard for me to comment on this statement, but I guess that if other countries had accepted it then Ukraine can’t ignore it either. I can tell you what I think of all this though: we had some really tough times here, with forming a Provisional Government which we forcefully discharged only a month ago. We convinced them that we don’t want what they’re offering and they heard us. However, they did it in a smart way, I read it in the press. They didn’t discharge themselves, they have sustained their activity, which is a big difference. They were forced to do so by the governmental officials. This “Shadow cabinet” couldn’t have been judged because every country has a right for a “Shadow cabinet”. The jurisdiction of this formation had no power throughout Ukraine, it only had powers in Transcarpathian Russ. It’s a big stone on the way which needs to be stepped over.
There was a serious battle in the media, there was a Congress of the intellectuals where I proposed to sustain this theme for the time being, but do so from both sides – and by Russins and by their opponents. We have more serious matters to attend to. Schools, for example. Did you know, that Transcarpathia had the most schools throughout Ukraine.
We have these really courageous Russins here, so I approached one of them and asked: “Yurko, is your father Russin? Do you see yourself Russin?” - “No”- he said. You see what I mean? It will pass. Another 50 years later this theme will not be up at all. Russins in the USA, however, can not become Ukrainians, because they emigrated in 1890 and Transcarpathia had the first Ukrainian dated in 1922. He was a writer – Grenzha-Donskiy, and he was the first to gain an official document. It’s been a while now since 1922, just under 88 years. I was hoping that time would solve this problem. By the way, we never had this in our concentration camp. I was shocked to see such battles takes take place when I returned home. I was shock to see an agitation post at a demonstration, saying “Hang Russins”. I came back home that day an didn’t know what to do. How did this start happening? We never had this back in prison, I was serving my sentence beside those guys... One was from Chernihiv, the other was from Transcarpathia but that didn’t matter. The trick was that all this mess had been created by communists. By Chuchka, made the head of “Prosvita” by Pavlichenko. “Prosvita” has been the Association of Ukrainian language previously. And now we two “Prosvita” organizations: Transcarpathian “Prosvita”, established around 80 years ago and the other one. And there is no way they can unite. One of them has a professor as head, and the other has a PhD as head, so they rival, and rival, and rival...
They don’t mention things like this in the press nowadays, but the “Podkarpatska Russ” newspaper, in fact, was a Russin media, closed down now. Officially – it went bankrupt, but I don’t know if that was the only reason. We do, however, have another insider newspaper holding on to the tradition, from the Cyril-Methodius brotherhood, lea by an orthodox priest.
Ovsienko V.V.: The name of the newspaper is an interesting detail. Did it spell with a “u” as “Pudkarpatska Russ” or with an “o” as “Podkarpatska Russ”?
Kampov P.F.: It spelled with an “o”, although there was no such letter, so it had a small tick on top...
Ovsienko V.V.: It’s called “dashok”.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, dashok. It’s pronounced as “u” but not everywhere. Hutzuly,for example – those, living closer to Slovakia, they have more in common with Slovaks, pronounce it as “e”.
There’s this novel of Pavlo Prikarpatskiy, where the author outlines crimes against Transcarpathian people, committed by the Soviet regime. It tells of people getting fired, among other things. There was a situation when a great pediatric doctor, Brashaiko in case you heard the name, returned a child from the dead, literally. She originated from a nationalist family, which existed since long ago. Currently, her daughter is the Minister of Health deputy in Kiev. So one day she was called up for questioning. She was a strong woman, but somehow died unexpectedly at the age of 60. So she was called up and questioned about the reason for having 11 priestesses around. She explained that they help her around with washing, ironing and taking care of children. She also said that they were teachers, and the local authorities, for some reason, kept brining teacher from elsewhere, even though there were 95 unemployed teachers right at our side.
What else? There was a political statement that the Soviet regime is fascist. The statement said that ”fascism is international and must be rivaled against by all means. Fascism is not only nationalism. Even if there is something nationalistic about it, we may say that nationalism towards weaker nationalities is chauvinism”. The soviet representatives were much negative about such attitude towards them.
There were examples of the authorities behavior against intellectuals. We had this man you might’ve heard of. Klychko. He was the head of the “Dumka” organization after Myroslavskiy was fired. Myroslavskiy was considered to have been fired for being nationalistic. It was also considered that Transcarpathians will be fighting for their rights and the scariest thing was that the names called out loud by the soviet officials were the names of true patriots. In my opinion, this was their biggest mistake. They called out the names of Chendei, Chuchka, Klychko, Ihant, Lohin, Bessaha, Meshko. The officials spent a lot of time interrogating those people but couldn’t anything out of them. One of them was a friend of mine.
One might ask about an inner difference between Transcarpathians. Pavlo Chuchka, for example, intimidated me on his own will, to make me confess on writing the book. On the other hand there was a man who knew everything about me – Yury Mygish, a party member if I stand correct. He had been interrogated 18 times, and he always denied anything they would incriminate or ask. And another man – Makara Mykola. The interrogators claimed that I was wrong when stated that nothing is changing, nothing new is being built or repaired, they also denied the fact that we were behind all other regions on upgrowth. Makara answered to that, saying that I never said anything like that, and if I would have, he, Makara, would have never missed it, as he was a historian.
It might seem awkward that questions of that kind were posed, but the answer is very simple: the officials needed at least something to link me with the “25 years of hopes and disappointment” book. So the end scheme looked like this: they simply changed the factual answers to the questions posed to real interviewees and used their decoy witnesses – Aristarhov and Tron’ – to confirm witnessing my link to the book.
Of course, my trial was a closed one. It wasn’t a fiction for the masses that it was a closed trial – it actually was. Mine was a juridically closed trial – the document simply stated that my court hearing took place in a closed format. The only people in the court room were the prosecutor, the so-called lawyer, my guarding officer and four armed soldiers by the door. My case and all my files even contained the “TOP SECRET” title for some time.
Just to be said: political imprisonment cases had been partially given away to the archives, but mine hadn’t. However, after that the cases have then been taken back into rotation again. I may assume that this is a negative syndrome – what should force the government make a secret out of these cases again?
Special attention should be paid the defending lawyer. He was not my lawyer because I never hired a lawyer. I was basically given as a case to a man originating from a totally communist family – Lupak Andriy Andriyovych his name was. He did however mention that he wouldn’t be defending me too honestly, because he thinks I’m innocent, and innocent people don’t need lawyers. It was a serious gesture from him, but sadly no one paid attention.
Ovsienko V.V.: Interesting. He said to you privately or during the trial?
Kampov P.F.: During the trial. Though, I think it was wrong to do so, because I had to stand trial for two days in a row after the conviction had been announced. The conviction protocol had 27 pages, and I had to crush each of those theories, although the lawyer should have been helping me. But at the end of the day, I would have never been given such a long last word. I had more facts than they did you know, I also collected some information from the so-called witnesses they used. I didn’t really know what I was doing, I must say.
Ovsienko V.V.: None of did.
Kampov P.F.: There were no lawyers in my family to judge political cases, even though members of my family were of the old intellectuals. I should say that my cousin had 12 children, and 8 of them possessed higher education degrees. That was in 1925. There were 9 girls – all teachers. My cousin himself was the deputy head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine and, significantly, never repressed by the communists because his own brother was the Minister of Justice of Transcarpathia and had his influence. The Minister however, trembled as a leaf all along, waiting to be arrested. He was never taken into custody.
My other brother was a doctor and another one was a in charge of forestry. And in those times, the one who worked in forestry was offered a bribe by a company named “Latorycia”, for the amount of 100 000 crones, to allow a certain amount of timber be cut down. He didn’t take the bribe. As a comparison, when the soviet authorities came, he wasn’t even asked – that forest was gone in three weeks. It’s sad you know – when I take book of Transcarpathian history and see none of my family names there. On the other hand there is a lot of information about totally insignificant individuals.
Anyway, as I was saying, we had no experience in what we were doing then, and my lawyer, Lupak, said the next without thinking, when I came to see him after serving my sentence asking for my conviction protocol: “I don’t know where is it.”. Even though, they were obliged to keep all the protocols until the end of the sentence.
I behaved well during the trial regarding the situation. When my former wife was interrogated, she said: “You are such bandits – took a person for nothing!” The judge answered to her that she was also a judge of sort. “Your husband is such a well behaved man, I didn’t hear a singe swear word from him... But here you are, in just two minutes...” - he said. “Unlike me, you will kill him” - she replied.
Strangely many witnesses against me were not local – they came from out of Transcarpathia. Basically they had nothing concrete to testify against me, but they were always unwelcoming and unfriendly to me.
There were other witnesses of course. One of the them, a jew I used to work together with, named Mykola was told by the judge that defending me he was defending an enemy. “You are the enemy, not him. I know his family and I worked with him, he is no enemy” - he said. The prosecutor replied: “You are a communist, aren’t you? How were you even accepted to the party?”. Mykola had an answer: “I am in, yes, but the question is, who accepted you to the party?” - he asked. So there were different people attracted to this case. In the end, Kiev commanded to keep my case a secret. However, secrets don’t stay unrevealed forever, as you may know.
Strange or not, but my case reached New York in a year’s time and I never found out how. I guess that the authorities had employees who disagreed with the existing order. The only man to have held my case, that I know, was Lukianenko, but that was in the concentration camp and it was very difficult to pass it further on from there. It’s important that that the world knew about us, dissidents. We had an advantage on those who who fought in the Ukrainian Rebel Army in 1956, because no one made them public, and we were popular. The wide audience knew Stepan Bandera for his doings in the region, Yaroslav Stecko because he managed to escape. Karavanskiy’s cover was blown in 1975, when the press started writing about him. On our part, we weren’t easy to kill, because everybody knew about us. This doesn’t mean, however, that we always fought as one. We had our own quarrels inside the political prisoners movement because we all originated from different places. Some of those people who took part in the national competition sometimes say that they were the only ones who actually fought against the regime, but the trick is that if there would have been none of us, they would have hardly been able to put up a serious fight. I recall a situation when I was aiding someone and was posed a question: “Why do you help these Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Because those people were the prisoners of conscience, and the world took the side of Ukraine in this, because simple human rights had been violated here. I heard a speech from the national competition representative in 1944, saying that the inner battles, which began after the War shouldn’t have taken place. I disagree. If those battles hadn’t taken place – we wouldn’t exist. I worte an article some time ago, concerning the fact that even though Madjars killed 117 000 people, the Soviet Power murdered another 80 000. And the only accomplishment they’d made were new rebels like Kampov, Pereida and Terec (the last two were Pentecostals). The soviet regime didn’t understand that you can not destroy a movement which has a base. One may assume that we are not fighters, because I, for one, have never held a pistol in my hands. And I don’t wish to change that. However, I value what I did posses. I’m just not fit for shooting and that’s why stood apart with those political prisoners in 1953, who supported the idea. The Jehovah’s Witness I was helping, even though I don’t support his faith, earned my respect. He was an internationalist, because he didn’t approve nations according to his beliefs. But still, he had a right to arm himself and take part in that war or not to.
Significantly, I convinced them to change their points of view, although sometimes aggressive views take over. I’ll give you an example.
Imagine that our Association was state-funded. Not too high though: Uzhgorod provides 3000 people and the regions – another 2000. That’s 5000. These people transfer money to our account. And now imagine a political prisoner died, so I give 50 UAH away for his funeral. Or I give away 10 kg of flower – for the amount of 50 UAH. But, whatever I do, I do the same for communists. I do it because I believe that when nationalists win – democracy wins. I mean the so-called national-democratic way... But let’s continue, I take a list of political prisoners and search for those aging over 90. If I see someone has a birthday, I call the head of the regional executional authorities and ask him to pay out 50 UAH to the aforementioned person on the day of their birth. So we could have a party, yes. And the authorities do so, because we had an agreement.
But in general, I think that communists exaggerate us, dissidents. We were never that intolerable. I, for example, never made public speeches, mocking the soviet regime, because would’ve had no public support...
By the way, you might be surprised to find out that we fought separate from each other because if we had united, our convictions would be related to mass treason which meant death as a restraint. The regime however didn’t want mass arrests either, because that could attract attention of the West.
And brings us to the reason why they feared me so much. My case was in fact very political – new candidates, which wasn’t against the law, creating a new party, analysis of the existing governmental system in the past quarter of the century. Once I wrote a letter to the UNO, it went through numerous corrections by other political prisoners – Baltic, Estonian, Lithuanian, Azerbaijani... They all had words to say.
I already told you of a problem we have inside the country – the jewish problem. I’d start like this. If it wasn’t for jews, the idea of dissidents wouldn’t have spread so widely into the world. We must take into attention that the Helsinki Group has many jews as members
Ovsienko V.V.: At least in the Moscow branch, yes. Ukrainian branch had only two.
Kampov P.F.: When I was imprisoned in Kuchyno, there were 65 jews out of 240 prisoners. That was in 1973, during the jewish boom. This was the worst mistake made by the soviet government. Jewish prisoners were never middle class – they were all PhDs or even possessed academic degrees. They felt imprisonment as holiday. Why? Because they were sure that they were just temporary visitors. They had a country and they believed that it would support them – even if it meant buying them out. We never had that confidence. What we had was the split Ukrainian nation: one half was pro-soviet, one third of the others felt irrelevant and only so only a handful of people were actually on our side. This is what see now – the majority of Ukrainians don’t wish to speak their language. It’s horrible.
If we take history as an example, then our Transcarpathian, we can see, never lived as part of Ukraine. We kept our language even though isolated. We developed immunity. Why? Maybe, because we weren’t part of a single country for a long time, always changing hosts. Romanians, Madjars, Czechs didn’t rule here, but they were a nation of rulers. I thought that if people had a choice they would have never elected communists but I was wrong.
During my sentence in the concentration camp I was visited by Cvihun – the deputy of Andropov.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes and which year was that?
Kampov P.F.: somewhere around 1974. He told me once: “Kampov, you have one serious mistake in you. You don’t know the people. You idealize the people and that’s why you defend them. If you knew what they are really like you would understand the real situation”. He said that most people either don’t care or mercantile. And I do understand that. I understand that there are 14 000 political prisoners in the region and not all of them like me. But I know the a majority of them respect me for what I am. Firstly because I am neutral, I don’t overestimate myself. I am open for communication with anyone. I don’t cry for my serving my sentence in the concentration camp although I did at some point... Well, not cry, but moan a bit. And I could serve my sentence quietly and forget about all this. Not all share my point of view, but wanted to say is that f there are no fighters, the nation dies. Ho Chi Minh, even though we thought that he wasn’t much of a philosopher, once said that a nation lives until it has its martyrs. Meaning, it lives while it’s depressed.
I would also say a word about our current situation. The trouble is that we are still dissidents and that’s grim. I don’t know why is it so. Maybe we became to selfish, so people son’t ask us on how should they live anymore? But I must say that the current authorities in Transcarpathia repeat what I said in 1990-1992. They currently stand for national attributes, they stand for the independence of Ukraine, they started standing against communists. And they’re told to be guilty – and what about us? We started saying that euphoria times have passed, that public demonstrations shouldn’t take place anymore – it’s not true. We never gathered a single demonstration supporting the Chechen people.
Ovsienko V.V.: There had been demonstrations in Kiev and Kharkiv...
Kampov P.F.: They weren’t significant. But I mean the local situation – there wasn’t a single act against the communists, who continue their doings. We talk more of particracy in the government. However I am sure that currently, Kuchma can’t approach the communists because if they were at power they would have... It wouldn’t have been me they would kill first. I think it would have been Kuchma. That’s particracy burning its bridges down on one side, don’t you reckon?
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, I do.
Kampov P.F.: The next. The disability to negotiate. Firstly, I would have never passed the Movement to Udovenko – there were other people to be moving the Movement, not all political prisoners are old. Mykhailo Gryn’, for example is still strong enough to be the leader of the party, the same as Bogdan Gryn’. We still have smart people in different activity areas. A poet is a smart person, but who recalls poets nowadays? Sverstiuk, who is a press writer could easily write philosophical articles.
Ovsienko V.V.: He does, actually.
Kampov P.F.: Not enough!
Ovsienko V.V.: Interesting. The “Communist” newspaper a few years back wrote that Mikhailina Kociubynska and Ievhen Sverstiuk are aiming for becoming officials. Ievhen Sverstiuk claimed that publicly one evening and was laughed at.
Kampov P.F.: Why shouldn’t he be a Minister of Culture?
Ovsienko V.V.: He has no will for that and no aptitude.
Kampov P.F.: How did you conclude that he has no aptitude for that?
Ovsienko V.V.: He is a philosopher, not an administrator. I know he isn’t.
Kampov P.F.: You know? I can’t agree or disagree here, but I do think that I would have been a better haed of the region than any of them.
Ovsienko V.V.: Well, I don’t think I would have.
Kampov P.F.: I see, I see different in you. But there is no need to underestimate one’s self. I had a conversation with Chornovol once, about Ivan Dziuba. One Ideologist from Moscow said that he could have understood Ukraine if 50 000 people went out of their homes for a demonstration after Dziuba was removed from the Minister post.
Ovsienko V.V.: But Ivan didn’t want to be a Minister.
Kampov P.F.: That’s not true. You know what Chornovol told me? He said he couldn’t be a Minister. By the way, Dziuba was the first person in my memory to have presented a full report of Shevchenko’s life which lasted for 20 minutes. A person to have such an ability for analysis... We sell ourselves! You say you couldn’t have been in charge of e region... But you could have been an editor of the “Golos Ukraini” newspaper, but you aren’t. Here you are gathering information on dissidents without any investments, trying to take pictures where possible.
Ovsienko V.V.: Well, Tkachenko has been in charge of the “Golos Ukraini” newspaper so far. He stopped being that yesterday, if I’m correct.
Kampov P.F.: The trick is that the place still has an editor and his identity can be seen an a way. He has 30 articles, sent to the newspaper and he chooses which article to publish.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, but we stepped away from our main topic a bit. Shall we return to your imprisonment term and things that happened there?
Kampov P.F.: Well, we did already go through a part of happened then. Let’s make a short break though, before we start.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ok. (turns the microphone off)
Kampov P.F.: After having to spend almost a year imprisoned in the Committee of the National Security, I came to my second part of imprisonment – the concentration camp. That was in the summer of 1971 – I was told that i’ll be transferred to a camp for political prisoners. Even the head of the KGB prison, Zhabchenko, had a talk with me then, asking me to change my behavior, because it’s not Transcarpathia where I’ll be transferred and there will be totally different people. He also said that he knew this was new and odd for me, but that’s the way it had to be.
When we came to the big part of the old prison I was searched all over. This was something I never went through before. Before this they informed my wife on my transfer and allowed her to bring me some clothes, food and everything else needed. On arrival I was handed over to the local jailer, an Uzbek, and he started searching me. He stripped me naked and told me to start squatting, so I asked: “What’s this for? I was transferred from a prison where I was guarded alone day and night”. He then called a barber to shave me like a sheep. Then he took my food, cut it into pieces and threw away. I couldn’t say anything to that, I just sat and watched. Later I found out that the KGB officers called the camp that day and asked them to organize a special welcome for me which I would remember, because I had spent a year in their prison and used to say that it was tough for me there. They took me to a solitary cell and left me to sleep for the whole night. In the night my cell was approached by female guard and she asked me if there was anything she could tell my family. I couldn’t believe my luck so I asked her of her motives. She said: “ I know you and your family. That’s all”. “Tell my family how they treated me today” – I said. “That Uzbek should have been hung” – she replied.
On the second day I was taken to the station, put into a carriage with the so-called death cells. The only difference was hat the door hadn’t been totally sealed so I could see the aisle. During the trip I was approached by officers a few times, they were interested about my conviction. I must mention that I wasn’t prepared for what was happening then, it was unusual to be transported like a carnivore beast, in a cage.
The train brought me to Lviv, the carriage had been transferred out of the city and then I was taken to the prison by car. Chapaeva street if I remember correct. It was a temporary isolation prison I think. There, they humiliated me for the second time. I was thrown into a public cell with 90 people in it. I climbed up to the second floor for a nap and in fifteen minutes, when I checked my sack, all the food was gone.
Ovsienko V.V.: Thanks to the sops who sliced the food in the first place.
Kampov P.F.: Yeah, they shouldn’t have sliced it. When I found out what happened I wanted to tell of it to the guards, but as they say, God always helps people. I closed my eyes and decided to think for a moment: who am I going to tell on this to? They did it on purpose, to show me where I came to be. I decided to to start talking to the prisoners: “You weren’t fair to have taken all my food and not leaving any for me” - I said. They were surprised to hear that, and not me getting angry and telling on them. They started quarreling between them on why had eaten everything without sharing. One of them said to the other: “I told you to have left that guy alone”. “Don’t bother” – I said, - “It wouldn’t have lasted me for 6 years anyway”. At that moment the guards came shouting that they have put me into the wrong cell and took me away from that scene.
Ovsienko V.V.: How long did you spend in the first place?
Kampov P.F.: About 3 hours.The next cell had only one person, he was being transferred like me, so he looked just like me on the previous day – a beast in a cage.
Ovsienko V.V.: Striped clothes?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, striped. That man said nothing to me, so I started the conversation: “Sorry, but I have nothing to offer – all my food has been taken away”. I stayed in that cell for the next few days. And then one of the guards told me that I was being taken to the Potma station and then I was put into the death cell again. There were two of us in that cell – the second person, a political prisoner, was named Ivan Gubka. As I understood, there was a trial on o a group of people lead by Krasivskiy and the authorities found out that Gubka was involved. They probably wanted something from him. Maybe they wanted to recruit him.
I’d like to run ahead a bit. I found Gubka later in the third concentration camp on the Baryshevo station. When I got acquainted with him a bit, I spotted that other prisoners don’t interact with him, they were suspecting him to be involved with the officers. I didn’t stop talking with him, learning more and once I asked: “ Ivan, what’s the deal?”, to which he replied that there was a political prisoner here, who worked as a barber, and he had certain contacts with the KGB to help him “get a get out of jail free” card. The other prisoners knew about Gubka’s acquaintance with the barber and thought best to avoid him.
There was a serious confrontation between him and Prokopovych, because they had a joint trial. They lived in the same barrack, in the same cell and never ever talked to each other. I, however, talked to both of them, even though separately. In a year’s time I asked Lukjanenko: “What proof do you have that Ivan Gubka works with the officers? How can you explain such actions and are you reacting correctly when isolating Gubka from the Ukrainian Movement, as he already served one sentence and was set free in 1956? Does this mean that this person is a recidivist of the national liberating movement?”
I think that my conversation with Lukjanenko and others had a positive result, because people started communicating with Ivan Gubka, which resulted in him being moved to Krasnoyarsk region. I think, his removal showed that was not dealing with the officers. If he had been, they would have set him free.
Anyway, me and Ivan Gubka, we traveled to Mordovian Autonomous Republic. I don’t remember exactly but I know that we spent time in the Kharkiv prison.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes. You were based in the Kharkiv Cold Mountain and in Ruzaevka village in Mordovia.
Kampov P.F.: Yes. The prison in Ruzaevka was a peaceful one, the most peaceful I’ve seen. There I met the Kuznetsov group who were responsible for stealing the plane in Leningrad.
Ovsienko V.V.: For having the intention.
Kampov P.F.: Well, yes. They had been caught. I remember Dimshiz, two brothers, Mendelevych... I didn’t communicate much with them though, because I didn’t adapt yet at the time. It felt a bit strange that Dimshiz had a death penalty changed to 15 years of imprisonment, and he felt quite easy about it – and his friends were even laughing. Dimshiz was older than me, he was an experienced pilot. Zalmanson-junior was an engineer the same as his older brother. I Guess they believed to be set free soon. None of them had however. They all stayed imprisoned until 1990.
Ovsienko V.V.: That’s not correct. The last jews had been released in 1979.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, apart from Mendelevych.
Ovsienko V.V.: And Fedorov was Russian, Murzhenko – Ukrainian or even gypsy. These people served their sentences ’till the end.. 15 and 14 years. But the jews were released earlier.
Kampov P.F.: Yes. They were taken straight to Israel.
So there we were, in Potma, isolated from each other. I was isolated from those I came with and put together with a Chinese guy. I remember the cell being tiny – the beds ended just at the door, anf the Chinese guy didn’t understand my language.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ukrainian?
Kampov P.F.: Neither Ukrainian nor Russian.
Ovsienko V.V.: And you didn’t speak Chinese.
Kampov P.F.: Nope. But I remember him explaining that he got 7 years for crossing the Chinese border to the USSR and that he wasn’t afraid of being imprisoned here, he was afraid of being deported back to China. We spent around 10 days in that cell. I recognized that our guards were talking Mordvian, and that language was in the Hungarian-finnish language group so I tried talking Hungarian with them. It didn’t work however.
Ovsienko V.V.: The guards didn’t know neither Moksha nor Erzya languages.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, they didn’t any words from those languages. But the important thing was that they didn’t want to talk with me, they ran away.
Potma station was a barrack built for speed not for quality, with a long corridor and cells n each side. Just cages – nothing else inside. Quite horrible!
Ovsienko V.V.: Wooden beds and bedbugs?
Kampov P.F.: And bedbugs, yes. After that we traveled towards the camps for some time. I don’t remember who told me this but they said that Mordva was completely covered with concentration camps.
Ovsienko V.V.: That’s correct for the western part, yes.
Kampov P.F.: They called it a Republic... With a railway...
Ovsienko V.V.: More of an autonomous police state.
Kampov P.F.: It has a railway, factories, forests, land and everything else. But to be honest, what I saw from the train window was a prison republic. Every 500-600 meters were marked by observation points, fences, concentration camps with all kinds of prisoners, not just political. Ordinary prisoners were working, bringing firewood to the political imprisonment facilities. I was told that they were taking me to the Zubovo-Polyanskiy region. When the train stopped I happened to be the only one who got off the train. I saw 23 armed soldiers guarding 50 square meters of land. “All that for me?” – I asked. The answer was positive. “A bit too many, don’t you think?”, I was more surprised than scared. You don’t need that many soldiers with three watch dogs to guard one person. We then traveled by car and I remember an awful road. The road was so bad that I was jumping from side of the truck to the other like a ping-pong ball. We kept going for an hour.
When we arrived I saw the sign and understood that we were in the 17th zone. I was first taken to the smaller prison by mistake so I saw Mikhailo Soroka who saw me and approached with other people. And then in 40 minutes the guards came again and said that I have to leave again. That small prison was horrible you know. It was based on a swamp so the only thing to connect the barracks were wooden bridges. And mosquitoes everywhere. Everybody wore monkey-jackets even though it was summer. I was wondering why they wore those jackets. I guess they were defending themselves from mosquitoes.
This was the place I met Mykola Koz, Bedril who was a PhD in economy. He was sentenced during the same trial as Mykhailo Gorin. The leader of that group was also here – he got 12 years. I can’t recall his name though.
Ovsienko V.V.: Which group was he from?
Kampov P.F.: Mykola Gorin’s.
Ovsienko V.V.: Mykhailo, Mykhailo Gorin and Mykhailo Masiutko got 6 years each and that was the longest term.
Kampov P.F.: Mykhailo Gorin got 3 years.
Ovsienko V.V.: No, Bogdan got 3 years, Mykhailo Gorin got 6 years.
Kampov P.F.: And what about their leader?
Ovsienko V.V.: There was no leader. The longest terms were after Gorin and Masiutko.
Kampov P.F.: I don’t know what to say, but I was told that Gorin got a small term because he betrayed their leader and told on him. Mykhailo Gorin was no longer there – he was released in 1971. He got 4 years and his brother, Bogdan, got 2.
Ovsienko V.V.: No, Mykhailo got 6 and Bogdan got 3 – it was all written down.
Kampov P.F.: Well, I don’t know then I remember telling them not to trust everything they were told, because one of the regime’s aims was to set us apart and make us battle each other.
But what was of interest was the death prison in between the bigger and smaller ones. It was separated by a simple spiked fence. Proziv told me of this and I got really scared. So scared that I feared getting even close to that fence. I didn’t want to approach the fence even though I could – it wasn’t forbidden.
I remember meeting Luzik in camp. He told me that he had created a never ending calendar, but it was taken away from him and the guards didn’t want to give it back. To be honest, I saw many people serving 25 years and I saw significant differences in their behavior. They pay attention to things we don’t. It’s difficult to explain, but people who were imprisoned in their childhood (17-18 year-olds) for a long term had their world views created in a very special way. And significantly they had no educational basis, because back in the days they got imprisoned, they were children.
Once, when I was walking around in the prison yard, I was called by one of the death sentenced prisoners. He told me his name was Ievhen and that we shouldn’t be afraid of them. He said that they were the same people we were, but sentenced to death. He said that he was from Mikolaiv, but not the one at the sea, he was from the one which had the concrete factory. That was Ievhen Pryshliak and this was the first time I saw him. He asked about my deals on the outside. I told him what I could. I must say, he helped me return my confidence – I didn’t fear the death sentence area so much on the next day. I saw that they were just like us with only a slight difference in behavior. They were a bit tongue-tied, like those just imprisoned. The head of the prison was Gavrilov, do I remember correct? I think he was still the head during your time.
Ovsienko V.V.: No, those were different commanders.
Kampov P.F.: Who was your commander?
Ovsienko V.V.: During my sentence in the 17th zone, Zinenko was the head of the prison.
Kampov P.F.: And Gavrilov must’ve been before him. He rose from being a private to being a major. And the prison contained mostly older people. It was like I found myself on a UNO meeting: one corner had Germans, another – Lithuanians, anther one had people talking Estonian... People were uniting by the national signs.
And then I was taken to the bathing premises. I was held in a solitary cell for fifteen days – it was a sanitary restriction they said – so I was quite dirty. The solitary compound had Daniel imprisoned there at that time, I even heard him fighting with the guards – they were trying to take him down, and he was fighting them off in the corridor even physically.
A neighboring cell had a Ukrainian guy who got 25 years – Skorobagatko. He never allied with the communists during those 25 years and for that he spent almost a half of his term imprisoned in isolation cells. By the time we got acquainted he was serving his 25th year. It’s shocking that he actually survived such a term.
So anyway, there I was in the bathing room. Before, all the people I saw dressed looked almost normal but when they undressed, I saw how thin they were. All they were made of were bones! I was stunned for maybe 15 minutes. I stood in a corner and watched all those people with swollen faces and no bodies. And then a man approached and offered me hand. I was 38 at the time and I still had flesh on my bones. He then offered me to lift him up, admiring how strong and healthy I was. Another man approached us and reminded that we should wash ourselves. I don’t remember his name, but I found out later that he weighed 37 kg.
I want to tell you about a person I met in one of the concentration camps. He was sentenced for spying. After that i’ve been to a few concentration camps but never heard of anyone sentenced for spying, although the soviet press kept writing about catching spies. If I stand correct, the guy’s surname was Legotskiy. He was dropped off by an airplane around 1946-47. The KGB caught him straight away and sentenced for 25 years. He was the first prisoner I saw who was of enormous size. He was sewing uniforms for KGB and the Ministry of Inner Affairs generals and colonels, had his little workshop. I really wanted to talk with him – he was fresh so I was interested in anything he could tell. However, I soon found out a rule that you don’t ask anyone of anything in the concentration camps. Mykola Koz told me of this rule, even though I saw him do otherwise. He went straight away to the person and asked: “What’s your sentence?” Almost no one, however, gave him answers to his questions, because people were new and scared. I never asked him of this – he told me all this by his own will. I also remember Legotskiy offering me lard, butter and many other things which people turned out to have had access to. I guess he got some treats for sewing high class clothes, although he wore ordinary prison clothes himself. That was before they implemented badges, which took place in 1973-74.
The main deed in that concentration camp was to sew gloves. They called it – being a motorist. I was taught to use an electrical sewing machine – I wasn’t good at it though. I was settled in a barrack with mainly old people. I slept on the second floor with an Estonian sleeping under me. Mykhailo Proziv, a Ukrainian, was sleeping next to me and then a Lituanian, brought all the way from Paris, was sleeping three beds away. This Lithuanian guy always had open eyes: I wake up in the night and see him staring at me, then I fall asleep, wake up again and see his eyes again. That kept on for three days and then I asked him: “Why are you staring at me?”, to which he replied something I never heard before. He said that he never slept in his life – his eyes simply wouldn’t close. He fled Baltic State after the revolution, had his own little carriage and a horse in Paris. He was a horse taxi, basically. And then he was stolen from Paris somehow and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment in Mordovia. He absolutely normal, except for his strange illness, so he wasn’t even forced to work. Basically this was one of those tough prisons with mainly people sentenced for 25 years.
I met a famous prisoner there – Mykhailo Makarenko, the man who played an important role in the life concentration camps later on. He was a jew, his real surname was Hershkovych. He was a serious professional in arts evaluation of all sorts. He even opened his own art gallery in Novosybirsk and was collecting old religious paintings from throughout Siberia. He was accused of national crime, they said he was buying all those paintings and dealt them as his own. It would be hard to say whether any of that was true or not – he was accepted by some of other prison, but wasn’t by others. I’d say he behaved very calm. The others saw him as a venturer. He was however, on courageous person and I got to meet him in another concentration camp later on.
I spent around a half a year in the 17th zone and then was transferred again. I was taken to Barachevo, because the 17th zone had no work. Barashevo was bigger. What can I say, the camps had been mainly built by German hostages. After the War has ended, German officers were grouped and taken to the concentration camps in Mordovia. They were the builders of these camps. Some of them were with their families. The camp I was taken to had sandbox playgrounds for children. When I asked about it I was told that it was for German children, sent away to the camps with their fathers.
This was the first place I met my own folk from Transcarpathia. I asked about it when I arrived and I was told that there were two – Ivan Myron and Mykhailo Zhurkovskiy.
Ovsienko V.V.: Are you sure that was in Barashevo? Maybe you meant Lisne?
Kampov P.F.: In Barashevo.
Ovsienko V.V.: The third camp?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. These two were never taken to Lisne. I was told I would be shown who are the Transcarpathian folk, but I said I’d see them myself. I came to the spot which everyone passed after work and sat down on the bench to wait. And then I saw the first guy and shouted: “That’s a Transcarpathian walking there alright!” to which he approached me and asked how I found out. “You have wide steps because you were born in the mountains and wide steps are needed there. And then I saw the other one, Mykhailo Zurakivskiy– a really thin looking Huzool, so I said” Oh, that’s a Huzool – I can see by the nose”. And that’s how we met.
I also met guy from England there, named Mykola Sharygin, or Budulak. He used to work somewhere in the Trading Ministry in England, was a famous businessman, also worked in the State authorities. He was taken to live in Germany when he was 6 an then, when he came to the Soviet Union for negotiations, he was seized and sentenced for 15 years. He, by the way, met Andropov in person. During his arrest in Moscow a man wearing glasses approached, so Mykola ask: “What did I do? I am innocent. The Englush government will call for my release. Andropov said to that: “Don’t worry, you’ll sit here for a bit. The Qeen of England will not declare war to us.”
Ovsienko V.V.: Oh yes. I heard the same from Mykola. (Mykola Budulak was from Vinnyzya region, he was taken to Germany as an exploited individual at the age of 15. Was accused of “espionage” in 1969 and also was accused of avoiding obligatory military service. Sentence – 10 years – was declared 3 years after initial arrest. Ovsienko V.O.)
Kampov P.F.: By the way, I would say that the prisoners felt quite comfortably free. We could afford hunger-strikes, refusals to go to work. But Sharygin, being a professor always said to that: “Don’t mess around, because what will be forgiven to those other people will not be forgiven to you”. He was warning me. When I started behaving actively like the others he approached me and said: “You shouldn’t do this because you will be dealt with heavily”. Yp be honest I knew nothing about the behavior of prisoners, Mykola definitely knew more because I saw him stretch his job for the whole shift. Whereas I had another habit – I get work, I do it, then i’m free to walk to around... And that was forbidden here.
Another person I met here was Levko Lukyanenko – he worked as an electrician in the manufactory. To be honest, all prisoners were very careful there, including me. I couldn’t trust those around me until I got to know them. There was a guy there, from Lviv region, named Josyp. People talked of him being related to the officials. After that he went mentally ill, had gone through treatment and came back very active and close to high standing people. The same camp was the place for Volodymyr Vasylyk, a blacksmith. And I don’t know how happened but someone told Josyp that he would gain redemption if he killed an informer in the camp. That’s what Vaylyk told me. The same time our camp accepted another new prisoner – Ievhen Pryshliak. “I was afraid to say anything to anyone or to interact myself, or even to tell of this to Levko Lukyanenko... I didn’t like it, I must say...” - I told him. And Vasylyk said to that: “We had enough blood, hadn’t we?” So then I addressed Pryshliakov: “I am new here, people are scared and if the rules here are such then the informer would stay alive but I would be killed as a mistake. Then Pryshliak talked to Lukyanenko and the redemption raid has stopped. Only three years later have I confessed that it was me who made it stop.
Well, what else was interesting? I met a group of KGBs for the first time – general Abakumv’s group. The third concentration camp had a big library. The head of the investigation department of Georgian Republic was imprisoned here. He had been sentenced for torturing women during his interrogations by burning their lips with his cigar until they died in pain. He got 25 years. I also remember he had a inguinal hernia. I’m sorry to say, but his balls hung almost to the ground. At some point he fell really ill and was at death’s door so I said that we should call a doctor. What I received from the others were horrifying looks and then someone said that if I want to I can do it myself. No one wanted to stand at his side. I don’t know what got into me but I got dressed and went out to call a doctor. That man was taken away and didn’t die in the end.
No one judged me for that but they said that after five years with Pachula I wouldn’t take his side anymore. When Pachula got better and came back he approached me so I asked of his health. “I’m alive and that’s that”. “Good” – I said. “Are you really happy for me?” – he was definitely surprised. “Why not? You’re a living creature”. “Because I’m a terrible person” – he said. And then he told everything of him.
One significant thing about political prisoners was that no one interfered with the other’s explanations. Even the KGBs who used to interrogate nationalists – no one chased them around. Because the concentration camps were for the so-called national criminals. And a political prisoner – was a wide concept but there was still respect to an individual point of view.
Did you know, by the way, that 80% of political prisoners were Ukrainians. Lithuanians were second, then Estonian, then Russians and only a handful were form Azerbaijan. All people united into national groups and each group was tolerant to others.
Once up on a time we conducted a national demonstration. I offered each political prisoner to write a letter to the USSR government, to Republican governments, the Prosecutor’s General Office, the National Security department, requesting to be returned to our home Republics. We claimed that Russians shouldn’t embrace full executional power. Each of us has been sentenced in the name of our home Republic but somehow Russia had all the executional power to fulfill the detention terms. All political prisoners wrote these letters. Russians wrote that they did not wish to take the responsibility for torturing other nations and asked the Russian Federation to stop punitive actions against all other nations. They claimed that not a single political prisoner of other nationality should die in Russian concentration camps. The USSR government reacted to that: terminally ill prisoners were transferred to their native environment.
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was that?
Kampov P.F.: 1974.
There was one other type of political prisoners I would like to pay attention to. I mean those people who fought away from the Soviet territory. I remember meeting a kid from Lithuania, Baranauskas, brought in from Egypt. He couldn’t live in that climate because those deserts were very cold at night but very hot at daytime. The kid was arrested for 3 years and brought to us from those lands. I spoke with him a few times, he was around 19 years old and I was worried about his psychological state because he was very anxious about the situation. I tried to calm him down and explain that 3 years is not a long term and the main thing is to stay alive but someone must have helped him from out of the prison because he was released much earlier.
I’d like to say about the so-called “uzbek case”. I was transferred quite a few times thanks to people I communicated with during the imprisonment. The world fought for my release, thus in 1987 I was transported to Uzhgorod for my release. The Secreatry General of the Communist Party was Chernenko at the time who died just as I arrived in Uzhgorod (10.03.1985 – the death of K.U.Chernenko. Ovsienko V.V.). I remember a KGB colonel approached me and showed me his ID although he didn’t want me to know his name, and asked me write some paper for him.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was the next imprisonment, wasn’t it?
Kampov P.F.: The second one, yes. I was taken to the Kazanskiy prison with hundreds or even thousands of Uzbeks, sentenced without trial and transported to concentration camps in the Kirov region together with other muslims who stood against fighting in Afghanistan. There were thousands of them. Did you know that this issue was headed by a man who later became the prosecutor of the Ukraine, originating from Ivano-Frankivsk region. He happened to be real patriot, but the Uzbek case was also his deed on the side of Moscow. What was his name? He is currently a deputy of Verkhovna Rada.
Ovsienko V.V.: Hm... Potebenko, Shyshkin?
Kampov P.F.: No. He was from Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, I recall him now, but I don’t remember his name.
Kampov P.F.: When he became prosecutor he told of everything he’s been doing apart from the fact that he lead the “Uzbek case”. The case, by the way, was closed soon after revelation of the fact that all routes in it lead to Moscow, that the case had Brezhnev’s brother-in-law involved. However that case millions of rubles spent on it.
As I was told by one of the Uzbeks, families kept giving away their family relics for 30 years into some fund and to collect that fund, Moscow conducted the “Uzbek case”.
Ovsienko V.V.: There was a fund but was there a freedom fight?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, it started with Rashidov. When Moscow football fans got beat up in Tashkent, Rashidov was claimed to be the enemy of the people, his grave was desecrated, his monuments destroyed and his remains taken away in unknown direction.
How did it happen that I got to know of this? I was told of this by one of the Uzbekistan political activists. I asked him: “Where do Siberian people and those from the Middle East serve their sentences?”. It happened that I never met anyone from those republics.
Ovsienko V.V.: There was one – Babur Shkirov. He was an Uzbek, you might’ve heard of him.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, I night’ve seen him. It couldn’t have been that such large territories like the Far East, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan had no political prisoners. So the Uzbek answered: “We don;t know that, we had those people however” and then he told me of the “Uzbek case” and Rashidov. I already told you that I only met one man sentenced for espionage. A big of group of the prisoners were soldiers who served in Germany, Hungary, Poland – meaning abroad. They were special people, you may say that they had political intentions at all. I’ve been meeting those people several times. I do want to mention one person from Ukraine in all this – Mykola Kurchyk. He used to serve in Berlin back in 1949. He and his friends were walking around the city and happened to get into the American zone. Mykola was a 19 year-old recruit at the time. He got one sentence and then another one later in the concentration camp. By the time I met him in Barashevo he was on his 28th year of imprisonment. He actually became a political prisoner. I warned him to be careful because he got a special regime detention once in the camp. And he had to trial his way back to strict detention regime. He was a good guy, but still, he suffered.
Later, in Ural region, we had a cellmate, Stepan Sapeliak. One day, the work has been suspended, and he was taken away publicly to commandant’s office. He told us later he’d been beaten. That lead to a strike in the prison when the prisoners refused getting back to work. The only prisoners to have obeyed the order were those who worked with German forces during the War. Kurchyk didn’t obey. The next day I advised him to go to work to be safer and not draw additional detention. I didn’t obey either. I had just returned from the hospital then. There was this lady in the hospital who was wife to the head of the camp. She approached me on the day I refused to work and said: “Get to hospital! You just returned from treatment and you want to earn detention again?”, so I said: “Take Mykola Kurchak with me”. She replied it was too late – he had been sent back to special regime. I never saw him again, that honest person.
I want to tell another story of a political prisoner. Just so the reader could imagine once again that KGB was dread institute. A man named Vitaly Kalinichenko, who was an economist, made a serious mistake by having an American consulate employee as a friend. He was arrested and sentenced as for national treason. His step-father was the head of kolkhoz in Dnipropetrovsk region Kirilenko, if I remember correct, was the secretary of the regional authorities at the time.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, that’s right.
Kampov P.F.: But when Kalinichenko was arrested, his step-father called Kirilenko and told him that Vitaliy was arrested. Kirilenko replied that he will have this situation settled. But Kalinichenko then said that he was already on his way to Moscow to meet Kirilenko. And there he was, at Kirilenko’s apartment, telling of the arrest. When he mentioned that the case was on national treason, Kirilenko stopped the conversation and kicked Kalinichenko’s step-father out of the apartment.
Ovsienko V.V.: Allow me to add that Kalinichnko did try to cross the border and was arrested there.
Kampov P.F.: Actually not. I read his file. And I met him in Barashevo. He was promised to be pardoned for submitting to the KGBs in the camp. He agreed. And then after some time, when he understood that they will not release him, he confessed to that he had done in front of the prisoners. He changed a lot after that, he spoke with me sometimes. I even knew his sister’s address in Kiev.
Ovsienko V.V.: Alla Tkach, yes. I keep in touch with her.
Kampov P.F.: You know, I wrote her a letter once, saying that I know her brother. She replied that some guy is just trying show himself as her relative. I have no idea about what she’s like. I never saw her.
Ovsienko V.V.: She is currently a teacher of Ukrainian literature in Humanitarian lyceum and she’s great as a teacher. She’s very patriotic.
Kampov P.F.: Well then, the next you see her – ask about what she answered to Pavlo Kampov.
Ovsienko V.V.: Oh, come on! Those weren’t the times to trust everyone, how could she know?
Kampov P.F.: I understand, I understand that those were the times. However, I would like to tell you of me meeting with Sakharov.
Ovsienko V.V.: That must have been upon release?
Kampov P.F.: No, that was when I was in exile in Tomskiy region.
Ovsienko V.V.: When was that?
Kampov P.F.: I was taken there on the 16th of June 1976.
Ovsienko V.V.: Where were you taken from?
Kampov P.F.: From Kuchin, BC-389/36
Ovsienko V.V.: And where were you taken?
Kampov P.F.: They had no right to that by the way. I had the II disability group.
Ovsienko V.V.: You didn’t say the date of your transfer from Mordovia to Ural...
Kampov P.F.: The same time everyone else was. During the festival in Moscow. It was a mass transfer preriod.
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was it?
Kampov P.F.: 1973, if I remember correct. In summer.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, there were big shifts that year.
Kampov P.F.: So Zhuravkov submitted his ID to the local court f Perm to stop my transfer, for the reason of my disability. When he told me of this I answered that Russian never do anything good for other people. He replied that he wasn’t Russian, but Permian and that if my fate would have been different, and the administration had submitted the documents, I could have been released.
Ovsienko V.V.: From exile?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. However, the documents hadn’t been submitted, trial didn’t take place on the 16th and I was sent to exile.
Ovsienko V.V.: Were you forced to work in the camp?
Kampov P.F.: When I had the disability group – I wasn’t. However there was a point where even the disabled had to work for 4 hours a day because the camps had few people.
When camp No.37 was created, it had only 35 prisoners. The work work there wasn’t hard – we were making some parts for electrical irons. Out of those we already discussed I met Sverstiuk there. He said once: “Do you really believe that we are held here to produce these wires? We are held here to be apart from our people.”
But anyway, I was exiled to Siberia. Those were really tough times. Even the summer in Siberia is no holiday. While traveling I had thoughts I’d be dead by the time we arrive.
Ovsienko V.V.: How long did your journey take?
Kampov P.F.: Two months. By the time we arrived I had a serious organ failure. I couldn’t even use the bathroom. We arrived together with Tverdokhlebov and Stefaniya Shabatura. Although we started off in three shifts. Stefaniya, if I remember correct left Kurganskiy region, which was the closest to the destination point. Tverdokhlebov was second I was third. However, we met in the same cell on each stop because those were the special cells for people like us.
The journey was awful. We, exiles, were transported together with ordinary camp prisoners. And then at last we arrived in Tomsk, to a camp of women and children. There were around 100 women and maybe he same number of children.
Ovsienko V.V.: Of what age were those children?
Kampov P.F.: Not older than 4 years old.
Ovsienko V.V.: Why? Were they taken away when they reached the age of 5?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. Those women weren’t political prisoners. Young and beautiful they were.
That region by the way, had many Ukrainian prisoners then. According to the law only one political prisoner could be held in one region. Why? Because each exile had the right to travel around in close villages and search for work. Of course, the authorities were to know of this. If an exile crossed from his region to another, he automatically got 3 additional years of sentence. I was very lucky to earn attention an respect in one village, Komsomolsk. Every time I entered the shop, I was told to purchase everything without standing in the queue.
I was governed by colonel Busygin at the time. There was no work, my mother died soon and I had nothing to live on. I wrote a letter to Suslov, demanding to be shot down and in less than three weeks Ligachov, the regional secretary arrived.
Ovsienko V.V.: Regional secretary of Tomsk region?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. So he came and found me a job – reading lessons on nuclear physics. HE said there were no other jobs.
Ovsienko V.V.: Who said?
Kampov P.F.: Ligachov. So I spent a few months doing that and then I got a telegram saying that my mother was dying. I traveled to Pervomaisk village and asked the head of militia, Artomov, to release me for the funeral. He declined my request, saying that my body belonged to him for guarding but my soul belonged to the KGB. I was in luck that day, because right then Busygin, the KGB colonel, entered the premises we were talking in. So I told him the same thing I told Artomov. “Do I have the rigth?” – I asked. He said I did. He didn’t deny any of my words, but this action needed money which I didn’t have. Later I met the head of the school in Komsomolsk and he gave me 500 rubles. That was luck! Busygin said that Tomsk was 450 km away and he was going to take me there. During the journey he picked up the phone in his car (I was surprised to see a phone in a car) and called to book me an airplane ticket to Uzhgorod. But in the end I had to take a bus from Lviv because planes didn’t land in the Carpathians.
Ovsienko V.V.: So you flew in to Lviv?
Kampov P.F.: I had to fly from Tomsk to Uzhgorod. I thought I was late and my mother was already dead. I had a route document which said that I wasn’t allowed to stop in Kiev, Lviv or Uzhogorod on my way to Mukachivskiy region. At some point, when the soldiers wanted to check my documents I pretended to be asleep. They let me be because I was dressed well and and they thought I was a professor of some kind. When I came to Uzhgorod, even though I wasn’t supposed to, I found out that my family fell apart.
When I came to the hospital I found my mother inadequate – she didn’t recognize me. The doctors said we had to take her to another hospital or sh will die. So we did that and then returned home with her. She returned to life as soon as we returned home and lived for another 12 days.
Ovsienko V.V.: How long was your vacation?
Kampov P.F.: I had a month. My mother started eating and talking during those 12 days so we actually started thinking that she would come back to normal life after all. However, she died on the 21st of September 1976, on the day of my Birthday. I had a few days left so I went to the militia office to sign a paper about being in Mukachevo. They were shocked at the office – they never saw anyone having such restrictions. I asked them about what would happen if I got caught away from my route. They replied that I would probably be exiled for it, which was not a problem for me anymore. So I went to Uzhgorod and walked it all over, and nobody caught me.
Ovsienko V.V.: Not even the KGBs?
Kampov P.F.: Yeah, they did. They were following me around but never approached. I already had the return ticket so when the time came I traveled to Moscow.
Ovsienko V.V.: By train?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. I arrived in Moscow in the morning and my next train, to Tomsk, was leaving early evening, so I had a whole day in the city. I knew that Sakharov lived on the Chkalova street, so when I arrived to the train station I sneaked out from the other side of thrain to stay unnoticed and went to see Andriy Dmytrovich. When I came he was alone. I asked him during our conversation about his thoughts on the possibility of the Republics leaving USSR. He said that he didn’t see it positive but agreed that the Republics have the right to do so and he will support their decision.
With my trick at the train station I managed to loose my KGB followers, so they kept looking for me around the whole city. When I came to the train station at 18:30 to get the ticket, I found it impossible to buy any tickets at all. I was told back at the camp that if I will not be able to get a ticket I should get a notification on it from the ticket office. So I went to the head of the train station and asked for the notification, which he gave me straight away. I spent two days in the train with ne and the same lady companion. The train was half empty by the way, so I couldn’t understand why was it so hard to get a ticket back at the station. Every moment during the journey I felt that I was being watched.
After I came back I was given a separate apartment as a teacher so I could live quite comfortably. There were to other people exiled with me: Horbal’ and Vasylyk.
Ovsienko V.V.: Horbal’ Mykola – in Parabel of Tomsk region.
Kampov P.F.: And anther one – Volodymyr Illich, who spelled his second name as Ilkovych. I don’t remember his surname though. The guy kept claiming that he was being beaten. I was surprised to hear that because my situation was totally different – the head the labor supplies dept. was supplying me with food during the night, so he was supporting me. Even though the man was cooperating with the KGB he was very humanly... He was the one to lend me some money for traveling home.
Everything changed later however, because I was sentenced for the second time. After just a few years of freedom. I wasn’t even doing any politics during that time, but even though the people who knew about me didn’t want to interact because they were afraid of getting into trouble from communicating with me.
Ovsienko V.V.: You had no occupation upon your return, right, and you lived in the same hut?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, I lived in the same hut I live now. To understand why I was imprisoned for the second time, I need to explain how much work was being conducted by my diaspora and how strongly they’d been looking after all of us. I don’t remember the exact date when I was brought to Komsomolsk of Tomsk region but in less than 10 days an academician, Ivan Chynchenko came to see me.
Ovsienko V.V.: He wrote to me too.
Kampov P.F.: The trick was that I hadn’t yet wrote home after coming back because I had no money – not a single ruble.
Ovsienko V.V.: How did Ivan find out your address?
Kampov P.F.: I had a feeling that the West was aware of everything that happening to us so I guess it wasn’t a secret for them. When I received a letter from Ivan Chynchenko I saw the address “Poshtoviy lane No. 3/6”. I went out to the street and looked at my own address – I didn’t know the name of my street yet, but Canada already knew. I checked the number of room and yes, the number of the room was 6.
The next I was released form the temporary isolation cell in Pervomaisk and told to go to Komsomolsk. No one told me how to get to Komsomolsk though, so upon my request they told me at the militia office that I should go to the bus stop and tell the driver that the militia ordered to let me in and take me to Komsomolsk.
I went to the bus stop but my bus had already been gone, so I didn’t know what to do. I saw another driver nearby and told him my story. He agreed to take me and dropped me off in the field near Komsomolsk. I was in the field, alone and didn’t know which direction to go. Then I heard dogs barking and decided to head that way. It was tough – alone, away from home, in Siberia... It was so strange: yesterday I was guarded and transported for political exile, then I was held in an isolated cell guarded for a day, and now i’m the field and there’s no one around – free to go wherever I want.
I came to a village hearing the dogs bark and saw the main street blocked by cattle.
Ovsienko V.V.: Cattle?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, bulls, cows – they don’t strain them for the night during the summer. Hundreds of them just sleeping in the street. I made my way to a two-storied building and asked for shelter over the night. The woman, however, didn’t allow me in. she said that it’s not safe to let strangers inside here but offered me to take a short walk around the corner and find a hostel. They didn’t let me in there either but told me to wait for the head of local forestry production process. The woman also said that he was Ukrainian, which surprised me a lot. While waiting near the building I saw about thirty drunk man in the yard, who were waiting for their salaries for it was the salary day that day.
The head of the production process, Myrgorodsky settled everything as soon as he came and saw my notification. When I entered my new room I saw three drunk sleeping men and a loaf of bread on the table. I also saw big green flies eating bread for the first time in my life. I was surprised that locals didn’t even offer me to have some of that bread. They turned out to be nice guys though – I lived beside them for almost a year.
Ovsienko V.V.: How many years were you exiled for?
Kampov P.F.: Three, but what difference was there? There were repair works in our hostel at the time, so we had to be moved until they were finished. By the time I came back my room was empty, so I took three keys, threw away two of them and claimed that I will from now on live there alone.
But let’s return to Ivan Chynchenko. He wrote me a letter concerning who he was and what life he had. All this, by the way, was published in Transcarpathian newspapers. I found out all about his fate, about his brother-general who had been executed through shooting down. About him becoming the head of agricultural institute in Lviv. He was an academician of the Scientific Academy of Ukraine... that was in 1939, when viv region was attached to the USSR. He was arrested in 1940 or 1941 and sent to Lviv prison. Most of his cellmates had been locked up underground and died there but Ivan was found unconscious by Germans and thrown to another prison but was then released thanks to cardinal’s Sheptickiy applications. Later, Ivan managed to flee abroad and lived in Winnipeg. I was receiving hundreds of letters and packages every month. To be honest I was very scared! I never had any acquaintances abroad, whom I kept contact with. I had uncle in Pittsburgh who’s son died commanding a torpedo-boat when Japan attacked the sixth USA fleet...
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean Pearl Harbor?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. He died there. Anyway, I was really scared of all that was going on with me receiving those letters. In the morning I was knocked on the door by regional prosecutor, Sergeeva. Earlier I came asking to be given a job. I was then offered to work as a lumberjack. But I was never a lumberjack before – I had not health for that. Anyway, I told her of the two packages which arrived the day before. To which she said: “Just eat it, sell it, use it. Don’t bother about a government which tried to destroy someone like you!” Can you imagine that? A lady-prosecutor who had never seen before was so honest. She helped me sell all of that later.
Ovsienko V.V.: Wow!
Kampov P.F.: Absolutely! She was Russian by the way. There was also a commandant of all these exile villages – Pavlenko. I wish you could understand the difference between these two people. Pavlenko was always against me, always threatening me.
After some time life became much nicer though. I started receiving food from Moscow, salary, those packages from abroad... I was getting invitations to dinner and getting some small money from some woman in Moscow, Iryna Vilde.
And then one day Busygin came and accused me of receiving that money from Moscow because it was coming from a forbidden fund named the “Solzhenitsyn fund”, lead by Alexander Ginsburg. I couldn’t know about this fact, and the KGB just found out, but id matter to them – they imprisoned me again in 1979.
Ovsienko V.V.: On the 3rd of February 1979.
Kampov P.F.: So then I received a notification to travel to Kaluga, because Ginsburg had been arrested there, and face interrogation.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, the arrest though took place in Tarusa of Kaluga region.
Kampov P.F.: That was the point when we started ezchanging letters with Ginsburg’s wife. I didn’t go by the way, and I think I made the right decision. To start with, I wasn’t doing anything to receive that money, it wasn’t earned. Only later had I found out that Ginsburg was accused of laying hands on the fund’s budget. If I I had said that that I wasn’t receiving the money they would’ve hung my money on him too. I didn’t go to the interrogation. No one forced me anyway. I only said that if they force me to – they will regret it.
I had a fault you know – I never wanted to cooperate with KGBs. They walk around at my door the whole night – I don’t invite them in. And then one day they arrested Ivan Kandyba (24.03.1981 – Ovsienko. V.V.) and came to me for searching my apartment. They started doing that and then I saw one of them throwing a knife into my wardrobe.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was still during the exile?
Kampov P.F.: No, upon my return home.
Ovsienko V.V.:When did that take place?
Kampov P.F.: I was paroled in 1977 by the court for my II disability group.
Ovsienko V.V.: And then you came here.
Kampov P.F.: Yes. Busygin said it was inconvenient to hold me there – “When I come to the shop, they don’t allow me to purchase goods without queueing, when you come in – they do.”
So there I was living back home for about two years with almost nothing – my wife took away most of the furniture. The KGB kept watching me but off the protocol.
To say the truth I think they took me away for the second time because of those foreign letters. I wasn’t even hiding them. There were around 3000 of those letters. However, I think that second time was planned beforehand. Ou know the story of Horbalev, right?
Ovsienko V.V.: “Rape intention”.
Kampov P.F.: Yes. Chornovol had the same in Yakutia. I was immune to such set up: I had to beautiful women coming by to help me around.
Well, what else? My case hadn’t been the only one concocted. Chuiko Boris, living currently in Striy, if he’s still alive. He had his feet frozen during his first sentence so they had to be amputated. He was sentenced for the second time accused of false disability. And I didn’t falsify mine, you know. Even the doctors agreed to that during the trial. And worst thing is that those doctors were fired for supporting me during the trial. One of them was kicked out of Uzhgorod. And all their efforts were senseless – I was locked up again for 13 years.
Ovsienko V.V.: The trip to Dnipropetrovsk was already under custody?
Kampov P.F.: Yes.
Ovsienko V.V.: When were you arrested?
Kampov P.F.: On the 20th of July 1981. They came, tied me up and took away to prison.
Ovsienko V.V.: How did they tie you up?
Kampov P.F.: Hands and feet, because I refused to walk myself.
Ovsienko V.V.: You did?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. I said: “What do you want from me? I’m not going anywhere!” So they tied me up and took to some temporary isolation cell underground. I was held there for around 3 days and I remember the authorities demanding the prosecutor to sanction me. He didn’t. When he said that he couldn’t sanction me I told him that I never payed my way to get the disability group so he organized a health check. I had to spend another month in the hospital.
When I was taken to Dnipropetrovsk I could have denied going through that check. However, when I went through the check the doctor, who had obviously been bribed, wrote that I had none of those illnesses I mentioned and therefor had no disability.
So they took me to the court and trialed me. I was lost and abashed. I was strong and confident when they trialed me on the first case, but now I was scared. Everything was organized beforehand by Leonid Kovalchuk – a KGB officer. I was given 13 years. I was trialed by a judge named Hovash, who is till a judge by the way. After the trial he told my family that he was simply ordered to do so. He said that I could’ve been sentenced a year back or in five years but I had to be sentenced.
Ovsienko V.V.: What was your conviction?
Kampov P.F.: Article 83, “Fraud”.
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean “Theft”?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. Theft. I was sentenced for 10 years of imprisonment and 3 years of exile. I was then taken to Lviv where I met Yaroslav Lesiv (arrested 15.11.1979 and then in May 1981 – Ovsienko V.V.). He had been sentenced as a junkie which he wasn’t. He was a smart one – he understood the Soviet regime even better than I have. I was still thinking at the time, that all this trouble was being created by single people inside the system, whereas he knew for sure that this was the deed of the whole country. My job in the Lviv prison was to weave baskets, so I came to the head of the prison and asked him to give me another job because I couldn’t do the one I was assigned to. He punished me by leaving me in an isolation cell for 15 days.
Ovsienko V.V.: That was still in Lviv?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, prison No.30. That was the strict regime of the criminal prison. When I was released from that cell, Lesiv was gone. He was taken somewhere and I never found out where. In less than a month the KGBs came over and tried to force me writing a confession on conducting anti-soviet activities or else I would regret my decision and would never be forgiven. At the same time they arrested Klim Semeniuk in Kiev and brought hi over to Lviv for questioning and trial. They were asking me questions about him but I always told them that I had met him in differernt cities like Kiev and Uzhgorod but knew nothing of where he lived. They tried to make write something about him but I refused. The truth was that I actually knew nothing of his activities. In fact, as far as I knew he had no activities at all.
So then they transferred me to a concentration camp in Kirov region, not far from the Kuchino village, maybe 200 km away. The camp was situated in the Rudnichniy village and, I guess the KGBs made a mistake because the ordinary criminal prisoners there weren’t as wild as they were back in 1944. They didn’t harass political prisoners, they were conscious. Moreover, they supported and cared for me. That was the place I got to know Chechen people for the first time.
Ovsienko V.V.: What were they imprisoned for?
Kampov P.F.: There were different cases. But all of them got ill with tuberculosis during their imprisonment. All Chechens who had been sent to Siberian prisons became ill with tuberculosis. They couldn’t live in that climate. Apart from that the head of the camp had all the territory shoveled through because he suspected me having radio and transmitting messages out of the camp. The trick was that back in Perm I started sending letters with the help of my cellmates, telling the whole world about what was going on in local prisons and concentration camps. Rectors of Riga and Prague universities had been involved spreading my note across the world and making soviet authorities go mad of not understanding how all this came out of the concentration camps.
I burned the ground they stood on with the help of Yosip Terelia, but he was arrested again in 1988 by the KGB and I was taken to Uzhgorod to testify against him. As a result he was sentenced for 10 years if imprisonment and some number of years of exile. After that I made desperate move – I announced my personal hunger-strike I decided to starve for 15 days every month until the end of my sentence as gesture of protest.
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was that?
Kampov P.F.: Started in 1982 and ended in 1989 – the year of my release. I started this demonstration in Lviv and every 15 days I wrote a note to Mscow concerning this. I sent a message to the Prosecutor General and starved. Every 15 days I was thrown into the isolation cell. In total I spent 950 days in isolation out of 84 months of imprisonment. Only God knows how I survived this. There was a Ukrainian doctor in the prison – Leshenko, who was organizing my move from isolation to the hospital block after I became unable of walking my way back with my own feet.
Leshenko, by the way also had a trouble with me.
His wife worked as a censor then and she made way for letters I wrote. After some time people started writing letters back to me but I wasn’t receiving them, so they started writing to my sister, who is now dead. There were days when she received around 400 letters. And they weren’t just from Ukrainians: Hong-Kong, the Philippines, China, England, India, the whole of Europe – people started writing from all over the world. It’s sad that my sister got involved in this – she couldn’t read all of those letters so people from Riga cam sometimes to take the letters away and they were taking her with them.
After that the KGBs decided to move me to Volga. They brought me to Kuibyshevo village and hel me the prison for over a month. I started protesting against that so they invited a military committee on eye illnesses. That committee decided that I was actually disabled despite the pressure of the KGB. So after that I was held permanently in hospital.
After that I was taken to the 6th concentration camp in Kuibyshevo. Nobody forced me to do any work there but from time to time I had visitors from the administration. One time though I had Nina Petrivna Lisovska as a visitor. My eyesite got worse then so I couldn’t even recognize her. By that time I stopped writing letters because I was tired of it – it’s been 8 years by that time.
And then, all over a sudden, on the 29th of August 1989 I was released. No one warned me of that, the head of my cohort wasn’t aware. Nina Petrivna left me some money – 25 rubles, if I remember correct. So anyway, I came to the camp headquarters and the commandant was very surprised to see me. He even thought i’d ran away.
Ovsienko V.V.: 1989, right?
Kampov P.F.: 29th of August 1989, yes. Something drastic happened that day in Kiev. Anyway, I went ot Prybutkov – the man who came to see me together with Nina, he called her and they bought me a costume, a shirt and shoes. After that I went to Moscow and then to Kiev, where I searched for Semeniuk...
Ovsienko V.V.: Klim Semeniuk?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. I couldn’t find his apartment. I met Oles Sergienko, who said that he’ll come back but didn’t, so I decided to stay in the “Ukraina” hotel. I spent a night there and had no idea that the next day was the day of the National Movement meeting, so I just left Kiev that day.
Ovsienko V.V.: You should’ve taken part in that meeting.
Kampov P.F.: Yes! But those are the days long gone.
Ovsienko V.V.: You know, right then we made the first attempt on transferring Tyhiy, Lytvyn and Stus. We failed however. But when we returned to Kiev I had the keys from those cells. The convention began on the 8th of September and was held until the 10th of September. Mikhailo Goryn was the head of that convention so I approached him and asked for a word to the public with those keys. He announced me and I went up the stage, clanking those keys. Kravchuk was present at that convention by the way.
Kampov P.F.: Well, Sergienko knew that I had just been released. I honor Klim Semeniuk al ot, you know, he was a very decent person. I heard that the convention was on only after I came home... But I understand Sergienko – he might’ve not been one of the Movement’s delegates.
Ovsienko V.V.: I don’t know that either.
Kampov P.F.: The tragedy of the situation is that we only unite in times of need. We were very united during the imprisonment. Each of us respected all the others. But the moment we were out – we had no tolerance of each other.
So I was home and unemployed. I went to the health committee where the renewed my disability group. When I sent my documents for reconsideration of my second sentence, I was told that the documents had been destroyed.
Ovsienko V.V.: Told by who?
Kampov P.F.: The prosecutor’s office and the court. It’s a bit scary that the people who judged us then still work as judges. The judge who sentenced me for the second time, named Vash, was the one who told my brother and sister that I had to be imprisoned sooner or later, until the Soviet Union stands. But he was honest, so that’s no issue. The issue is that people like him are still inside the system. He is still a judge. He was a local judge then, but he is now a member of the regional court. On the other hand, people who stood for me abroad were priests and financial ministers.
When I returned home they wanted to meet me live – to see the man they had been defending. I traveled to Canada, to Germany, France and Belgium. We became real friends. Ukrainians hosted me in Canada, but I lived with the locals in France, Germany and Belgium. And I find this significant.
Some time ago I already wrote about those who supported me. There was a French group named “Akhakh” and I met a Marxist named Strouve (fr.). I lived at his grandson’s place in France. “Akhakh” is a religious group in France who fight against torturing prisoners. I spent teo months at their hospitality, traveled throughout the whole of France, met Ukrainians at the place I lived at. The organization governed by Alkresh Shvah. When in Germany, I got acquainted with the “Amnesty International” group, governed by Irminger Boider (illegibly).
Canada... Apart from Chynchenko, I received letters from a man originating from Lviv region – Stepan Chaban. He didn’t just send letters – when I was released, he helped by sending me clothes. But those who helped me weren’t just academicians or government employees – ordinary Ukrainian diaspora members also supported me.
I must say that Ukrainian diaspora is much more conscious, even though the Russins are much wealthier. Russin diaspora holds positions in the government apparatus, the President’s Administration, but they can’t do anything their government doesn’t tell them to do. The Ukrainian diaspora in its turn advised the USA to support Ukrainian political prisoners. It might have not been so expensive then, but it was very important. I met the Ukrainian diaspora in the USA by the way. They were very hurt that people they’d helped didn’t even come to thank them, even though he had been in the States a few times. Our Ukrainian diaspora ha the same problems we do – Bandera followers refuse to communicate with Melnikov followers even after all these years. And I told them of this problem.
Ovsienko V.V.: What about orthodox and catholics?
Kampov P.F.: They communicate normally. I spoke with the head of the Security Service of Ukrainian diaspora and he told many horrible things which probably shouldn’t yet be said aloud because the times are still quite tough. It looks like there have been numerous departments formed in Australia, Italy, Congo who fought for my release. Thousands of people whom I will never see to thank. It’s their efforts that made my name appear in the Royal Encyclopedia of Canada...
I really regret that the Russin problem is on today. And what’s even worse – it seems that it will not go away. Why? Because there’s the same problem in the West. The whole Russin diaspora left Transcarpathia: in Canada, in America, in Brazil, in Argentina. I don’t know how to solve this. Ukrainians used to be Russins once.
Ovsienko V.V.: We were all Russins once, yes.
Kampov P.F.: And that’s the way I explain it to people. But there’s a “but” in all this and I wrote my thoughts in the press: Transcarpathians have no trust in Ukraine. All froces are governed by non-locals. The Transcarpathian prosecutor has been changed for a man from Kiev. The head of Militia was from Moscow, he is now in Crimea. His successor was Kuchma’s relative. They’re like mafia – even the Border department and the Tax office have particular people in charge. The nation doesn’t like this.
Ovsienko V.V.: Even the deputies are odd: Surkis, Medvedchuk...
Kampov P.F.: Yes. And can you imagine that Kravchuk was the one who brought both of them over. I wrote of this too.
Ovsienko V.V.: And made them deputies.
Kampov P.F.: Yes. There is a positive fact in Kravchuk’s work though, but we were still a colony of the USSR and now that Ukraine is independent we are still treated in the same way. Even though we are just as dedicated. I told you that there were 14 000 Transcarpathian prisoners. We only united officially with the USSR in 1946, so the authorities couldn’t cause so much chaos here as thy did back in 1938. I don’t know how to overcome this problem. The main thing is to save independent Ukraine, to raise a nation of honest and good people, not corrupt and not criminal. In 1991 91% of Transcarpathians voted for independence, however, 78% voted for total autonomy.
I would like to finish by saying that the life in Ukraine makes all of us dissidents. The Ukrainian government demands Germany to pay off for German prisoners during the repression and War period, but here in Transcarpathia it’s just us who have the privileges and not our families. The law rehabilitation states that we are to receive 50%. But what actually happens is we receive 50% for all the members of the family, thus – very little. I don’t know if that is the case with other regions, but I see this as a tragedy.
Another example: yesterday I met some political prisoners. I am the head of the regional organization on political prisoners and this wasn’t decided by me alone. This fact however, gives ground to what the KGB accused me of – individual ambitions. It actually might seem that all those people weren’t actually dissidents, they were people with individual ambitions. And our time is running out – the youngest political prisoner should be around 50-55 years old now.
Ovsienko V.V.: There are younger ones. I’m 50 and Zorian Popadiuk is 3 years younger than me. Starosolskiy was born in 1954. In word there are even men born in the 60s.
Kampov P.F.: Why do you not wish to work in the government service?
Ovsienko V.V.: I just don’t.
Kampov P.F.: I see this a mistake.
Ovsienko V.V.: Well, if I would’ve been working for the government, I wouldn’t have come to see you.
Kampov P.F.: Why not?
Ovsienko V.V.: I have a tourney for three weeks now.
Kampov P.F.: You could come to me during your work trip.
Ovsienko V.V.: I am now on a work trip from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.
Kampov P.F.: I’ll tell you something: when I worked for the state administration, I told people from the National Movement, from the Ukrainian Radical Party to go for governmental service. The head of administration was after Mykhailo Kraila. He wasn’t local, but he was on our side. Those who are in charge now aren’t on our side. What do you recon would have happened if 20 000 political prisoners went to work for the government of Ukraine...
Ovsienko V.V.: 20 000 people? Where would we have taken that many?
Kampov P.F.: 8 000 rehabilitated in Transcarpathia and Lviv had another 20 000. Ask Liucyk when you see him: Chornovil, now dead, waited for 4 days to see him, but souldn’t get through. He’ll tell you.
Ovsienko V.V.: So who went to see whom?
Kampov P.F.: Liucyk.
Ovsienko V.V.: Liucyk went to see Chornovil and you said it the other way round.
Kampov P.F.: When Chornovil was the head of the regional executional department he didn’t agree to see Liucyk. We don’t like seeing communists, but Liucyk waited. I don’t even know for sure how many years he had spent imprisoned. 27 maybe...
Ovsienko V.V.: 32.
Kampov P.F.: He told me: “I don’t know what to do with Chornovil”. I tried to calm him down but I didn’t know what to think of this situation.
Another example. Lukianenko, being the ambassador in Canada refused to accept Chornovil for a talk.That’s what we are. What can those communists do with us, if we can’t do anything with this problem ourselves?
Ovsienko V.V.: I would ask you to say a few words about your articles and especially your book.
Kampov P.F.: I stared writing of my imprisonment upon my return. Only 27 of them had been published and they made the manuscript.
Ovsienko V.V.: What’s it called?
Kampov P.F.: “Za liubov do ridnoi zemli” (“For loving my motherland”). I think that I had been imprisoned exactly for that. 27 newspapers had an article each but I wanted to collect everything in one spot to keep as history.
Ovsienko V.V.: Which newspapers published your writings?
Kampov P.F.: “Karpatskiy krai”, which later became journal, not a newspaper. I wrote about 109 articles in 9 years, each article had a page or page and a half.
Ovsienko V.V.: How many pages did the “For loving my motherland” publication have?
Kampov P.F.: You know, I was making the book as short as possible, because I feared it would cost too much.
Ovsienko V.V.: 160 pages, right?
Kampov P.F.: Yes. It should by retyped by the way.
Ovsienko V.V.: Why?
Kampov P.F.: I have no money to do it. It only needs around 2000 UAH. The head of regional finances almost gave the money. I wanted to order 1000 books in soft covers but that would make it more expensive, so the deal is still not done. The book is still in the publishing house.
Ovsienko V.V.: Which one?
Kampov P.F.: We have one called “Patent”. The book is now in a different publication house – they’re collecting the needed amount of money. The head of the city executional department promised me to get it published and I promised to give him 500 editions as a present.
On the other hand it would have been interesting for me if these articles got published as a collection. There are some very interesting materials. There are about 10 articles telling of my trips abroad. There is a great article about the life of Transcarpathians abroad.
I also wrote around 14 separate articles about different nations found in Transcarpathia: “Transcarpathian Jews”, “Transcarpathian Germans”, “Transcarpathian Romanians”... These articles actually established a new scientific area for our University. It’s sad however, that there will be no Transcarpathian Germans, we called them “Shvabs”. They played a positive role especially in the construction field of activity. Their villages were most neat and nicely built. It’s a shame they’re gone. And they’re gone because of poverty.
The only foreign nation to have stayed are Romanians. I guess that Romania is also quite poor and that’s the reason for them to stay. However there is no nation to be as neat and clean as they are. The only aspects they’re behind on are literature and history. I only know 1 Romanian poet in Transcarpathia and only two PhDs. The communists called them Moldovan at some point but never agreed to that. They were behind on studies at schools because of language differences and no Romanian schools.
Romanians were here long before Hungarians actually. Hungarians only came in the IXth century. I think that Romanians will keep their nationality on the territory of Ukraine because they have their own little world in Tiachiv and Rahiv regions.
The Slovaks, thanks God aren’t leaving.
Ovsienko V.V.: Where do they live?
Kampov P.F.: Mostly around Uzhgorod, in Perechynskiy region and in Svaliacskiy region. They are governed by Slovakian Association so they’re good. I want to tell you that Transcarpathian language is most close to two other world languages – Ukrainian and Slovakian. And I find it sasd that the regional radio neglects Transcarpathian songs, although there are many. And of course, the Madiars. They’re tough and I think that their deeds will do them no good – they tried to achieve total autonomy, they even opened a national pedagogic university which teaches in Hungarian.
Ovsienko V.V.: Where is that?
Kampov P.F.: In Beregovo, that’s their main center. They prepare physicians, chemists, historians but in Hungarian language. Where will those people be working? They didn’t think about that. And they actually didn’t need to because the Uzhgorod University invites 30 people every year to the department of Hungarian language. Under the pressure of Surkis-Medvedchuk Ukraine created a constituency spreading from Rahov to Madyars – and that’s the spot where Madiars currently live. As a result they now have deputy elections from Hungary – that’s something to be sure of. Romanians, by the way, don’t have that. Hungarians have their representatives in local authorities, so Romanians, having a population of around 500 000 should also have that... The deputy chef of the Tiachiv region could be Romanian, couldn’t he?
We also have a gipsy problem, especially in Uzhgorod. There’s a gipsy camp three blocks down from where I live and that’s a problem. Firstly – a political problem – each man willing to be elected deputy brings 6 tons of flower to the gipsy camp to get their votes. Gipsies are a nation with no motherland, and the fact that they’re behind on self development is their own fault. This problem is wider than just Ukraine – Transcarpathia and Slovakia also have this problem. They never walk alone – always a bunch of them coming and the whole street hears them.
And all the elected deputies throughout Uzhgorod region buy their votes beforehand – it’s cheap. I don’t know what the situation is like in the whole of Ukraine but our Verkhovna Rada is bought all over. I’m surprised that there is still no law on firing those deputies who try to buy their electorate. Just look at what’s going on: a conscious, good person will never go through to Verkhovna Rada because all those seats are already bought.
To be honest I now see social-democratic regime of European countries in a different way. They raise the question of social trust for their population. Nationalist countries don’t and this is a point of loss. Bourgeoisie representatives also lose. There’re things to think over.
Ovsienko V.V.: Please name your place and date of birth.
Kampov P.F.: I was born on the 21st of September 1929 in Dirok village of Mukachiv region. It’s a small village with a population of around 700 people. There are Shvab forests around it.
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean German?
Kampov P.F.: Yes, we called them Shvabs. Three kilometers. We had only Russins as locals of Transcarpathian Ukrainians. We also had one gipsy family servicing horses. What else?
Ovsienko V.V.: There’s one more thing unclear – who was actually spreading those notes on your election for deputy?
Kampov P.F.: Hard to say. I can only say that I knew about the “25 years of hopes and disappointment”, maybe I even gave some materials for it.
Ovsienko V.V.: You mean you weren’t the only author?
Kampov P.F.: I guess not. But if I...
Ovsienko V.V.: I’m not forcing any answer here.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, ok. During the trial I said that I didn’t want to be a hero of any sort. I objected against it. I must say though that the fact of other than pro-soviet deputies running for elections was a historical moment. Nothing like that had been seen before, and I guess you could call it proof that Transcarpathia was behind all the others on taking the socialist path.
There is one other person I wold like to tell of: Pavlo Zybera. He lived in my home region, in Ralovo village. He had worked as a personal secretary of the Czechoslovakian President for the past fifteen years. During the second World War he was in emigration together with the Czechoslovakian government in London. He was arrested and sentenced for 25 years, then release in 1956. During my arrest he was going through interrogation for six months. Sadly, he was dead by the time I was released. He bequeathed his archives to me and his family knew about it. It’s been nine years but I still haven’t retrieved them. The KGB was ready to lay all the fault on Pavlo Zybera since I was denying everything, which was wrong. He had been working as an English teacher in school at the time because he had perfect English after living in London.
He was one of the best people in Transcarpathia, still forgotten by now. And I mainly blame myself for that, because I should have taken care of this straight away. And now what? I have to work for 120 UAH payed by this businessman guy... I have to work because if I don’t I’ll have nothing to live on. I can go poor of course, but the communists will then laugh at me: “Look at Kampov, a winner – walking in patched trousers”. I don’t want to give them this little victory. Communism didn’t find much appreciation in Transcarpathia anyway.
There is another tragedy in Transcarpathia – the committee secretary in rehabilitation is a communist, not Transcarpathian. And he has done a lot of harm. He is still there even though I addressed the President and Verkhovna Rada. I was fired from governmental service and he’s still there.
Every region of Ukraine has a place, publicly known, where shot down political prisoners are buried. There was a woman doing this Transcarpathia and still we can’t force the Security Services of Ukraine to reveal the place where they’d been buried. 10 priests died in the Uzhgorod prison and it’s not that we have to keep this quiet – I wrote around ten articles concerning this problem. I addressed the Security Services personally – no result. We’re still inside the communist secret – children don’t know where had their parents been buried. The KGBs had been shooting Transcarpathians in the Uzhgorod prison until 1951 or 1953. They kept doing it afterwards, but in Lipetsk region in Russia.
What else? There’s a book called “Rehabilitated by history”. There isn’t a single political prisoner to have edited this book. It tells nothing of who were the judges, who were the investigators, even though we demand doing so. The tragedy is that the book “Rehabilitated by history” is written by those who had been killing us back then. Even the posts of committee secretary are taken no by political prisoners. It’s sad and there’s nothing we can do about it. I tried attending this issue.
There are still many problems. We provide sugar and flower, we provide money but everything important is still kept secret from us. We fought communism but we achieved nothing in Ukraine. I already said that the deputies in Verkhovna Rada think of them selves rather than of anyone else around them.
I don’t mean to say that communists had just some serious hatred towards us or that they were eliminating only us. They also wanted to set us apart with our families – mothers, brothers and wives. If my former wife, for example got married for the second time it wasn’t just her own will. She had nothing else to do. None of our wives knew for sure that we would come back and my second sentence only proves that. I guess that if the USSR hadn’t fallen apart I would have been imprisoned for the third time. If I was to live as long of course.
Ovsienko V.V.: We were all doomed back then.
Kampov P.F.: Doom. And that’s no joke. That’s why I’m surprised we backed down so strongly after gaining independence. We achieved nothing basically, neither for the nation, not personally. That’s my personal experience.
Our nation was very strong back in servitude. Much stronger than now, after gaining freedom.
I also wanted to mention the German polizei-ukrainians. I had one of them as a neighbor once. Weak type of people they were. Most political prisoners wrote notes to say that they will not share space with a German polizei. So this guy told me once: “Mister professor, you never talk to me. Do you judge me for working as a German polizei? I can tell you why I did it. My father had a great mustache. When he didn’t want to sign the application to kolkhoz, they ripped out one hair at a time until he died. When Germans came, I killed my dad’s killer. I became a polizei for revenge. How would you have payed back to people who held you imprisoned?”
I may also assume that the majority of dissidents, who weren’t radical nationalists, fought more for improving the soviet system than against soviet authorities. They fought for making the soviet regime more democratic.
Ovsienko V.V.: They might’ve also been simply defending their own human dignity and by that – the dignity of the whole nation.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, yes, but I told you that nobody actually believed in surviving until the fall of USSR. This doesn’t mean however that we failed. We actually made it fall. With the help of “Amnesty International”, with the help of all those countries I named earlier, who were defending me. Those people weren’t just defending us – they were defending themselves from communism on the basis of the materials they received from us. So yo may say that there was a world wide association of anti-communist dissidents.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, but there was also military and economical pressure from the West, together with economical and ideological exhaustion of the USSR. All these factors together lead to its fall.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, that’s a different subject all together. But we, a bunch of dissidents, wouldn’t have anything without the whole world defending our backs because the soviet authorities actually eliminated many of us in the 30s. John Reed wrote the book “10 days that shook the world”, but didn’t write a single word about any of those eliminated and murdered dissidents. We should be grateful to fate that the tortures we went through together with our dreams actually helped us win. We actually defeated communism.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, but how many generations had died before us and didn’t make it to the end? One may say that we are a happy generation.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, we are. Truly so.
Ovsienko V.V.: Our Movement was a part of the world tendency for democracy, freedom, human rights and rights of the nation. We were in the needed channel and the world helped us.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, it did. It’s a big deal. It could have turned out another way, so it’s God’s will, God’s aid. We could have all been dead because they had been eliminating us with second and third prison terms. Even Lev Lukianenko, when he was being released, told me: “I will not stand anymore of this because I’m old. I don’t plan to keep fighting.” He was the man to survive the death cell – I respect that a lot. I never met a political prisoner who would have claimed to keep on fighting after release. However, where were we to go when they started eliminating us? The Helsinki Group.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, Ukrainians were never let abroad. We had only one way – to the prison.
Kampov P.F.: Yes, our only choice was between a prison term and death. Russians however, did get their releases...
Ovsienko V.V.: Some of them had actually been offered to either leave the country or to be imprisoned.
Kampov P.F.: And Jews? They received a term of two months or even two weeks. We only had death as a choice.
Ovsienko V.V.: We only had one way.
Kampov P.F.: I am in fact insulted by the management of the Ukrainian Association of political prisoners. They should have found some money by now for publishing manuscripts of political prisoners. And mister Proniuk should be removed.
Ovsienko V.V.: And who should be his successor?
Kampov P.F.: You, for example.
Ovsienko V.V.: Ehm, no. I am no good for this job.
Kampov P.F.: Well, he’s not doing anything anyway.
Ovsienko V.V.: Maybe. But you need to have someone ready for his position to remove him. Employees aren’t found just like that, you know. And whoever it will be, he should be in Kiev...
Kampov P.F.: What about Mykhailo Goryn?
Ovsienko V.V.: He has other interests.
Kampov P.F.: I don’t think he would decline such an offer.
Ovsienko V.V.: I think he will.
Kampov P.F.: And see this: when Halychyna stood against Goryn, they stood against Khmara too. Halychyna created an idol out of Kuchma. Transcarpathia, by the way, had only 25% of voters in the first tour.They forged around 30%. First place was after Crimea, second was after Kiev and third was after Transcarpathia. Of course everyone voted for Kuchma in the second tour – there was no one else to vote for.
Ovsienko V.V.: 23rd of January 2000. The interview came to its end at 21:23. It lasted for almost seven and a half hours and required five tapes. The interviewee – Kampov Pavlo Fedorovych. Ovsienko Vasil recorded the conversation.