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Dissident movement in Ukraine

VASYLENKO Mykola Oleksandrovych

03.02.2016 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko | Interview obtained on February 17, 2001 (with the editing by M. Vasylenko in June 2013)

Ovsienko V.V.: Here I sit with Mykola Vasylenko. The address is Vosma Shidna str., 9, in the city of Kherson. Vastly Ovsienko recording.
Vasylenko M.O.: let’s start from the beginning. My name is Mykola Oleksandroyvch Vasylenko. I was born on 1st of May 1924 in the village of Zagorianivka, of Kherson region. My father had only four grades of education, but in his own village he was considered a very literate person. He loved reading books and was a local philosopher. So when they open a local kolkhoz, he was offered a job there as an accountant. And there he worked for 30 years. My grandmother had three grades of education
Ovsienko V.V.: Please call your relatives by their names and mention their years of life.
Vasylenko M.O.: My mother’s name was Natalia Ivanivna. She was born in 1900 and died in 1995. My father’s name was Aleksandr Khomovych. He was born in 1894 and died in 1977. My grandmother lived for 94 years, her name was Anastasia Fedorivna. She was a very active and kind person, she knew many stories, many songs, She kept the Ukrainian tradition alive. An interesting fact about her is that after the revolution, when she was given a piece of land, she organized a family community, under the influence of the Soviet regime, and became the head of it. My grandfather, Khoma Grygorovych Vasylenko, was born in 1860, he was a writer. They had 11 children and 16 grandchildren with my grandmother. They never gave their children anything for granted, everything had to be earned by working for the good of the family. Their family was easier to work so they became rich quite fast. They build this town house, bought sets of farming instruments and they already had horses and cows. In 1930 their family managed to evade their property confiscation by dividing all their property between the members of their giant family. After they had done that it occurred that each member of their family was entitled to a half of a horse and a half of a cow. Because of this none of their property was taken away from them by the Soviet regime.
Their big family lived near each other, so my grandmother often took her grandchildren to her place in winter and told them long and interesting fairytales. I still remember them. They had an Giants and heroic Cossacks who were bullet-proof. She told me of wonderful lands based far far away, across seven oceans in high mountains. It was a land blessed by God, and one day that the blessing will for upon our land, she said.
My grandparents cared for their children to attend school and study well. Thanks to them we were all literate, worked as accountants, agronomy specialists, qualified carpenters, and the youngest of us was an officer - lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Army.
I started writing poetry in my school years. At first it was just spontaneous rhymes, however it was enough for my relatives to pay attention and start buying me books. The first poem I learned by heart was Taras Shevchenko’s “Zapovit”. I still remember the feeling when I was reading it lying on a warm bed in my grandmother’s house. I was too young to understand the meaning of that poem, but somehow I felt strong attraction to it. Starting from my fifth grade I took part in the school olympiads and regional olympiads.
Somehow I had a special inspiration to write poetry after being offended by adults. I would write a poem, expressing all my unhappiness, then I will put this poem into a small box and bury the box in our backyard. I thought then after I die my offenders would dig up that box, read everything I wrote, and would cry having understood their fault. I was a funny little child. When I was in the seventh grade, I thought of those buried boxes and decided it to dig them up, but didn’t find any of them. And that was it for my child’s poetry. When I got to the age of 15, I got my first poem printed in the “Naddniprianska pravda” newspaper.
During the German occupation I studied at the Kherson Sea College. In 1941 a German officer came to us and said that we should switch from studying to work, “Time for studying will come after the War” - he said. And so all of us, 16-17 yearolds, started working as street cleaners, trench diggers and wood cutters. We all lived in a hostel. After a year of such life we were called a company of the battalion on the territory of which we were based. Some students from our group tried running away. One of them got caught and was shot down in Kherson, another one was hung.
In January of 1943 my group of students were loaded into a cargo train and taken out to Germany, to a town of Braunshveig. In this town we kept doing the same thing - cleaning the streets, taking out garbage, leading water pipes to houses destroyed by bombing. Later in autumn we became part all local fire fighting brigades. We were basically doing the same thing: digging into the destroyed buildings to find people dead or alive.
In the beginning of 1945 we were freed by the Americans. They gave us shelter in a camp made for displaced people. They said that if someone wanted to return home - they could, they were free to go. They also said that if someone wanted to go to America or to any other country - it was also possible. We were young, we did not feel any guilt in front of our people, we never felt repressed by our government so we decided to return home. We moved from the American part of occupied territory to the Soviet occupied territory. We stayed there for along time.
Ovsienko V.V.: They didn’t let you go home?
Vasylenko M.O.: No, they didn’t. When we crossed the Oder river, they gave us temporary shelter on the outskirts of the town, in a field among other boys and girls. There were a few thousands of us. One night we were robbed by the soldiers, they stole our watches, American cigarettes and food, female accessories and other things. While at it they shouted “We fought the war!.. We bled for it, whereas you, bitches, kissed German asses, forging bullets which they shot at us”. Some of us tried to escape back to the American side, swimming over the river, but once they got to the middle of the river - they were shot down by the Soviet side.
Later we were moved to a different camp and then drafted into the army. I started serving in 1945 in a cavalry regiment, in a German province. During my service there I found out from my mothers letter that my brother Leonid had died on the front, and that my father was still serving in the Soviet Army. In 1947 I was demobilised and came back to Kherson.
One of my classmates, Petro Potyriaiko, worked in the regional military office as a secretary. He told the head of the office that are used to write poetry during school years. I was 23 years old back then, it was in 1947. After a short friendly conversation, the head of the military office invited me to dine with him at his house, acquainted me with his daughter and offered an interesting job. Two weeks after that he urgently called me to his office for a conversation. Two men dressed in civil clothes met me at his office and said they were from the “Naddnipriankska pravda” newspaper. They told me they had a job offer for me, so I should travel with them to their office. I agreed to come with them, they took me to jail instead of a publication house. There was a short trial, a court hearing, and a sentence to 10 years of imprisonment in Soviet concentration camps and five years of rights deprivation. They claimed I had a firearms during life under the German occupation.
Ovsienko V.V.: Do you remember the date of your arrest?
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes, I have it written down. By the way, only 50 years later I found out that I was considered to have had firearms because I signed an investigation protocol. My conversation with the investigator looked like this: “Did you hold any German firearms?", - “No, I didn’t, we were all just teenagers", - “That’s how I write it down: no firearms. Did you take part in raids?”, - “No, I didn’t”, - “That’s how I write it down: you didn’t”. He was lying, he wrote everything the other way round. I trusted him, so I signed the protocol without reading. I was drafted into the Soviet Army in June 1945, in May 1947 I stood trial, in October 1955 I was released from custody, in March 1956, after a certain hustle, I was allowed to work as an electricity engineer at the Kherson cotton factory.
Ovsienko V.V.: Tell of the investigation, of the trial and of your imprisonment.
Vasylenko M.O.: I already told you on the investigation and the trial. After the trial me and others like myself were shifted with a cargo train from Kherson to the north, to the town of Inta with a separate concentration camp. Around 70% of the prisoners in that camp were Ukrainians - members of the URA, members of the OUN, the Ukrainian intelligentsia - complete dissidents. I learned a lot from them about Roman Shuhevych, Stepan Bandera, Ivan Mazepa, Mikhail Grushevskiy, the Ukrainian Rebel Army and many other things which opened a totally new world for me. We worked in the mines inside the camp, At first, I worked at the mine No.5, after I received a notification which said that I was an operator of lifting machinery. Our camp and many literate prisoners: poets, writers, painters, artists, music writers, even military officers. I met Grygorir Kochur there. When I came to see him he was sitting on the lower part of the double-decker bed in his cell with his feet naked, because someone had stolen his shoes during the night. He was busy trying to think of a way to find some shoes, so he wasn’t too interested in talking to me about literature. He came to me himself in a few days, he found me at my working spot. We had a short conversation where he asked me to read some of my poems to him. I hesitated, he noticed it and told me not to worry. After I read my poetry to him, he praised that and told me I should continue writing and gave me some advice on theory of poetry. Having had nine grades of middle school the only education I ever got, his help was much appreciated.
Later, Kochur acquainted it on me some of his friends: Dmitriy Palamarchuk, Grigoriy Polianker - a Jewish writer, Victor Vasylenko - a professor of the Moscow University, and others, who are currently famous scientists and writers. During the life of Stalin our concentration camp didn’t have neither libraries, nor radios. Together with that, we could only write letters to relatives twice a year. All letters were read by the censorship committee before being sent. If the Committee found anything “anti-Soviet" in those letters - they were ripped to pieces and burned. After 1953 and the death of Stalin our concentration camp received at small library which, however, consisted only of those books especially chosen by the Soviet authorities. It was noticeable that those who spent a lot of time in the library, read a lot and, what is more important, wrote things and hid their writings earned significantly more attention to their persons in the eyes of guards.
I mostly wrote things at night sitting in my work machine. During my imprisonment there I wrote a history based story about an ancient Queen who ruled in ancient Kingdom. I was hiding all my writing in the wall near the machine, no one knew about it except Kochur, Polianker and another cellmate of mine, all used to be a students at the Lviv medical Institute - he worked as a paramedic at the mine.
We were often taken out of the camp for felling or to build new prisons. This was the kind of labour which killed the most prisoners. At the end of 1953 I was called up by the head of the prison, he told me that I was up for a shift the next day so I should pack my stuff. He said I was being moved closer to the white polar bears. I was shocked and started asking him to check me out of the shift list. The head of the prison said he could check me out of that list if I agree to be his personal informer. I declined his offer and walked out of the office in a very grim mood. Probably everything I was feeling then, was written on my face, because a friend of mine whom I met just after that conversation, understood everything straight away and advised me to agree with their terms on one condition - I will start working for them after the shift. And so I did, the result came straight away. The next day I was taken out into the yard and forced to cut wood in the temperature of -40°. My fingers ears and fingers suffered frostbites, my ears never fully recovered after that.
After that I was moved again to the most dangerous part of the mine. I was very slim and weak back then because I was getting just 550 grams of bread per day, a tiny bowl of soup during lunch, and a spoonful of wheat porridge for supper. that was it, so, naturally, the shovel felt really heavy. When I came to that part of the mine, I saw that it was half flooded. There were no specialist who knew how to turn on the water pumps and get rid of this water. The brigade was looking for volunteers to address this problem, and I was one of the first to volunteer even though I had no idea of how to work with bumps. However, I knew that previously some prisoners who tried fixing those pumps got injured from electrical shocks. The first thing I was looking for, were any signs of malfunction, and I succeeded. Step-by-step I understood how to work with these pumps and started turning on the electrical equipment. Eventually, the water went away and our team could start working in a dry environment. The head of the brigade was very happy about it and decided to keep me as a pump worker. He even gave me additional food everyday. I was quite happy about it and prayed that everything stayed the way it was, but sadly, everything changed again. One day the head of the prison was walking around with a check and saw me in the pump compartment. It made him furious, and he addressed the head of engineer asking of the reasons for such incompetence. He was angry because he had given an order to keep me in bad conditions and there I was - sitting comfortably in the bumper compartment. The head engineer tried to explain that I saved the day by draining the water away from the mine. The head of the prison, however, didn’t want to hear anything of it. He repeated his order to give me the hardest job with a shovel inside the mine. So I started digging again, even though it was obvious that my effectiveness as a miner was tiny. After a month of such occupation I completely lost strength. I could hardly hold the shovel. When my paramedic friend saw me at the entrance of the mine, he said that this situation should have be changed or otherwise I would die. He offered me to forge an illness for me. With that I would get into the hospital and we would then think of something while I rest and recover. I didn’t have much choice so why agreed to his offer. He gave me an injection when nobody was looking at us and told me to go and visit the doctor. He also told me to warn the doctor that I have symptoms of a fever. I did as he told me and was then taken to a hospital out of the concentration camp in the closest town. They check my temperature at the hospital and the doctor whispered into my ear: “You are simulating. Return to your camp". Later that evening my paramedic friend came to me again and offered to inject me with a double doze. I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I would survive, but then, having no other choice, agreed anyway. After the second injection my temperature was 40°. I was taken to the local camp hospital…
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was it?
Vasylenko M.O.: March, 1954. The local camp doctor also found out that my illness has been faked, but decided not to tell in on me. We had a long conversation with him by the end of which he organised me a place at the hospital ward and officially applied for my treatment. Kochur came to see me the next day and brought me a pencil and a sheet of paper, so I could keep writing. I spent a month in the hospital and it really did help me feel better. I started working at mine No.10 where both electricians were previously high Lithuanian officials, while their Country was still independent. Both of them really liked Ukrainians, so Kochur asked them so give me a job at the electrical post. I was far from being a professional at working with electricity, but I promised to be a fast learner. I was given special literature, I was shown some practical stuff, and then, having mastered all the needed knowledge, I managed to stay at the electricity post where everything was quiet and warm.
The changes in the regime started when Stalin died. Various newspapers and magazines started appearing, it became possible to receive literature books from relatives. At small library appeared in the camp, the guard installed radios inside the barracks. Professor Pavlov, of the Moscow University, was made the head librarian. He was allowed to create the biography of Stalin half a year before the leader died, he managed to write a lot, but when Stalin died he burnt his opus.
I came across the understanding that the individual human character may sometimes be surprising. Four example poets and writers continued writing highly spiritual texts inside the prison, although there were constantly repressed for it by the majority of their surrounding. I, for example, had a situation where an employee of the prisoner, an electrician, convinced me to read some of my poetry to him. Which I did, and after I finished, he said that he liked it so much he was prepared to sneak the poems out of the prison and send them anywhere I’d ask. I hesitated for some time because I thought he might turn me in to the guards, and that would have meant big trouble for me. Although my poems did not have any anti-Soviet ideas in them, I knew that the KGBs could turn any information in the their own favour. Happily, I worried for nothing, all the letters well received by my relatives.
There were many employed workers at the prison mines, who had developed sympathy to us, so they were bringing us interesting books, notebooks and ink to write with. Some guy even brought an encyclopaedia. I read of many interesting things in those books. I read of Egypt, Greece, the Empire of Alexander the Great. The historical posture of the ancient Queen Laodika - the queen of an ancient kingdom called Seleucids - impressed me so much I decided to write of her, of our traditions and the ordinary life of those long gone days.
Our camp had a certain number of professional historians so I addressed them and asked to tell me about Laodika. Many of those I asked were eager to help me, they were happy for gaining the ability to pass on their knowledge to someone motivated and interested. I spent time writing my own story during my night shifts in the mine, and there I stored them. After I made the first draft I showed it to Kochurov. He read it attentively, corrected all the grammatical mistakes and told me to keep on writing because "there is something real about it". There were other interesting situations in the camp. For example, one guy, Oleg Datsiuk, copied the manuscript of my story and managed to send it over to the female concentration camp. He even wrote a bit later magazine called “The Liberation path”. I managed to bring the manuscripts home with me after my release. I wanted to print it officially, but came across the flat that all historical stories should first pass censorship with the KGB, and that is why the manuscript stayed hidden at home until 1994, when it got printed in the almanac called “the Steppe”,
Ovsienko V.V.: Where is this magazine printed now?
Vasylenko M.O.: In Kherson. The interesting thing is that after my story had been printed in that magazine, a PhD in history, Mykola Olenkiv, advised me to write a full novel based on my story. And although it meant a lot of work, Long hours of studying history of the days long gone, I decided to do it, and call the novel - "The shatters of the Empire". It is a novel about the Empire of Alexander the Great.
Ovsienko V.V.: During what years were you working on the novel?
Vasylenko M.O.: 1998 - 1999.
Ovsienko V.V.: And is the novel out yet?
Vasylenko M.O.: I’m afraid not. The manuscript is still inside my table. However, a friend of mine edited the text for free, so the novel is factually ready to be printed. The process of printing, sadly, requires finances which I don’t have. One local businessman offered me 400 dollars if I agree to print the book in Russian.
Ovsienko V.V.: Wow!
Vasylenko M.O.: I declined his offer and said that there is enough literature in Russian, with what he is offering me is, actually, language deprivation. So he didn’t give me the money and the manuscript still awaits its time.
The novel consists of three parts: the first one is called “Seleucid”, the second one is called “Ptolemy”, and the third one is called “the War”. The end of the novel shows of the conflict destroyed, leaving the old world in shatters. It would’ve been nice, Vasyl, if you could make a speech in front of the students of our university.
Ovsienko V.V.: We can talk about that separately.
Vasylenko M.O.: Ok. History is a teacher, you know, even though people say it doesn’t teach anything. It teaches nothing only those people, who don’t want to learn.
Ovsienko V.V.: Let’s return to the story of your life.
Vasylenko M.O.: I returned from the north in 1955, after the amnesty.
Ovsienko V.V.: What was the procedure of the amnesty? How did it take place? Where didn’t take place? Did it take place at the mine?
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes, at the mine, at the camp zone No.2. I spent eight years as a “white slave” in the Soviet concentration camps. I met many good friends there. When I returned home it was hard for me to find a job, because everybody feared that I wouldn’t be a troublemaker since I just came back from the prison.
Ovsienko V.V.: Where did you come back to?
Vasylenko M.O.: To Kherson. Even after the release I continued my friendship with my friends from the imprisonment. I have a picture here with people you might recognise: Grygoriy Kochur, Dmytro Palamarchuk, ievhen Datsiuk, Liubomyr Poliuha, Vasyl Hnativ, Andriy Hymenko, Ivan Savych, Ivan Hryshyn-Hryshchuk, Ivan Mykulskiy, Mikhail Horynzhiy, Mykola Sokolovskiy.
Ovsienko V.V.: Is this Mykola Sokolovskiy-Sarma?
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes, it’s him. Some of these guys came to me later, in Kherson. Kochur came more than once, together with his wife, and later even with his grandson. We went on holiday together with their family a A few times. But even after our release we always felt that the KGB were watching us. It never bothered as much, but still.
My only education were the nine grades at school. I had to learn, to gain a specialisation, so in 1956 I entered an industrial college on distant learning basis. I worked as an electrician at the local cotton factory. In 1960, one week before my graduation I was called up by my boss to a nearby town, I was to repair an electrical engine in a child camp. Just as I started working with the engine, a KGB agent approached me and asked to go with him. He took me to the local KGB office and showed me a notebook which was stolen from me about a year ago. I did suspect one of my relatives to have done it, but now I just knew that the KGB had my writings. The two colonels met me told me that I could be up for another 10 years of imprisonment for in these writings. I was shocked because I had just started building a life with a place to live and a wife. I guess they saw what I felt at that moment, because they offered me a deal: I keep my freedom, but in return I become there in former, or the way they put it: "I shall be helping them in guiding people away from the evil bourgeois propaganda".
Understanding the situation I was in, I remember the people with education are much more valuable in prisons than those without it, so I needed to get the diploma. So I told them that I would agree to their terms, but only after I graduate from the college and get a diploma. They agreed it to my terms so in a few days time I had passed successfully all my exams. Then I quickly returned home and showed my diploma to the head energetics specialist. He must have not known about my relationship with the KGB because he give me a high position in his department.
Will all this hassle my health started deteriorating, so I had to get to hospital. After three weeks spent in hospital one of the KGB agents came and kindly said that the doctor informed him of my good health and that "we could now talk". I look back at him and said that the deal was off, that I was not going to do anything mentioned during our previous conversation. He silently left, and then in a months time, after I returned to the factory, I started having problems with the KGB again. I was moved to a lower position at work and felt that my job at the factory was not going to happen.
Later that day I was walking the street and saw the entrance to the Kherson National Energetic Department. I thought that this might be my lucky chance. I entered the establishment, went for an audition and got the job as an engineer even before I had time to leave the previous job.
In a months time my boss was fired from his position, the official reason was that he was too religious. Later in 1963 I was sent to Kyiv, into the Ministry of energy, to collect some paperwork. On my way back I took a fairy, and it happens so that I got acquainted when a man all worked at the Chernihiv regional Energy Department. We had a nice talk which ended as soon as I mentioned that I wasn’t too happy about one of the Party’s decision on the flooding certain fields around the river Dnipro to make dams. That conversation turned out to be crucial because he told in on me to the KGB, and they came to see me again at my new job. At that point I felt that ,y new job was at risk again, and asked for advise from my colleagues. They told me to write a laudatory poem on the occasion that Fidel Castro was coming over to Moscow and maybe even Kyiv. So I wrote the poem and sent it to the central press, and it worked. My poem was printed on the front page of the newspaper, I kept my job, with my salary was decreased by 10 RUR.
At that point I felt that the KGBs were off me so I applied to a university in Odessa.
Ovsienko V.V.: Were you rehabilitated by then?
Vasylenko M.O.: No, I wasn’t. It was all because of those German firearms I was suspected to have had as a teenager period
Ovsienko V.V.: What year was that?
Vasylenko M.O.: 1950. I even have a portrait of me painted by Vasyl Volovenko that year. Vastly was sentenced and imprisoned for Ukrainian nationalism when he was 17 years old. He and his three friends got 10 years of concentration camp imprisonment each.
Like I said before, I never stopped my relationship with my friends from the imprisonment. We exchanged letters, met each other, although we knew that the KGB was watching. I kept writing and hiding my writings. All my draft notes were put into a glass bottle and buried in the back yard. Writing - is a drug, not easy to get rid of.
Ovsienko V.V.: Please, tell about the 60s and the 70s. What else have you been doing apart from work?
Vasylenko M.O.: In the 70s I worked as the safety engineer on a wine factory. I was a good worker, I was even awarded with a medal in 1970. That year our work team was awarded with a vacation tour to Bulgaria I was in that list. I was told that my ticket had already been bought so I should prepare for travelling. However, a few days before the trip I was told that the KGB forbid me to travel abroad. Can you imagine that?! Those watchdogs were always alert, they never stopped watching me.
After I had been awarded by a medal, the head of the Kherson writers Association, M. Bratan, expressed his thoughts on the matter of me publishing my book. He thought I shouldn’t have any problems now that I got this medal. I decided to take a shot and prepared all the needed documents for applying to the publishing house called “Radianskiy Pysmennyk”. I received positive feedback on my poetry book, and it was supposed to be published in the first quarter of 1974. On the same day I went to see Gregory Kochur and congratulate him on his birthday. On the next day I met the editor of my poetry book - Kovalchuk, who advised me to go and see the head of the publishing house urgently, because "something strange is going on there". At the office the had The publishing house, Steblyna, told me that he just had a call from "the House” and they forbid him to print my poetry book.
Ovsienko V.V.: By “the House” you mean the KGB?
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes, them. That year I was forbidden to print anything. This restriction stayed upon me for eight years. In the beginning of 1980 I was allowed to print translations of anthologies. As time went on more and more of my poetry was being published. I also wrote poetry for children, in case you didn’t know. I published a fairytale called the “Flaming sabre". It was based on the fairy tale told by my grandmother. My works won different awards. During a literature contests organised by the National Association of writers and the Global Ukrainian coordination Council both of my books had been awarded by the Vasyl Mysyk’s Award. Dmytro Pavlychko, among others, gave a positive feedback on my poetry. He recently sent me a book of his poetry translations from Polish called “Call me in winter".
Ovsienko V.V.: So he keeps translating just for himself, while being the ambassador of Ukraine in Poland?
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes. There was a time when I was also doing translations of Polish poets - Tuvim, Staff, Slonimskiy and others. In these books were a gift from Ivan Hnatiuk, who visited me quite often at my home.
Ovsienko V.V.: As I understand you had a rich social life besides your writing occupation for the past years.
Vasylenko M.O.: Of course! I actively take part in social life. Since 1989 I was among the organisers of the National Movement of Ukraine. I took part as a representative from Kherson region, and was present on all the meetings. To this day I am a member of this organisation. I still publish my works in the press - reviews, articles on popular topics and other things. I wrote of the Russian aggression in Chechnya back in 1995, my article was called "stop evil!", It was printed in the “Stepova Ukraina” newspaper. I wrote of the approaching Russification, of the absence of Ukrainian books, about the Empire syndrome of some of our people end of the need to revive the national self-consciousness. Since 1992 I am a member of the national writers Association and and elder of the Ukrainian Cossack Association.
Ovsienko V.V.: So, apart from everything else you’re a Cossack!
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes I am. I swore my oath in 1992. I also have the “Heraldry Encyclopaedia”.
Ovsienko V.V.: Yes, and it says here: “Vasylenko. Coat of arms: Silver six pointed cross standing on a golden Halfmoon with the red background. Crest: three ostrich feathers between two swords”. Oh, and it says here that you lead your family tree from 1687, from Ivan Vasyliovych, who lived in Novograd-Siverskiy. So that’s where you got the family coat of arms from.
Vasylenko M.O.: Yes, all the families back then how their coat of arms.
Ovsienko V.V.: There is another note here: “this is the family of a noble man, starting with Jakov Vasylenko in 1718”. So you are a noble man then! I should write this down. Thank you for your time. This record has been made on 17th February 2001, in Kherson, at home of Mykola Vasylenko.

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