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YAKUBIVSKYI Mykhailo Mykhailovych

31.07.2019 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko

(b. 21.11.1952 in the Village of Verbivka, Ruzhyn Region, Zhytomyr Oblast)

Philologist, poet, ethnologist, and journalist. Victim of punitive psychiatry.


His parents were villagers. His grandfather Herasym and great-grandfather Vitsko were dispossessed and driven from their khatas. His recently-married father Mykhailo, 22 years old, was mobilized and joined the labor army, where for his protests he was sentenced and transported under guard to Siberia. Back to Verbivka, he did woodwork, participated in the WWII, managed to build a khata, fell ill and died in 45 leaving his wife Domka with four children. Mykhailo was 3 then, but he still remembers how his father and he did woodwork. His mother worked 40 years in the collective farm. She was the image of Ukraine: she knew many songs inherited from her mother.

In the fifth grade, Mykhailo "separated" Ukraine from the USSR on his school map. His elder brother Vitaliy, a talented journalist and poet (1936-2005) read him and commented the poems of Shevchenko, Vasyl SYMONENKO. His eight-grade graduation paper about Shevchenko, negative response to occupation of Czechoslovakia and reading of the novel Sobor by Honchar were estimated by child psychiatrist Halyna Lashchuk and psychiatrist Bondarenko and declared dangerous for public authorities: “Let professor examine you”. In September 1968, by deception and without the knowledge of relatives the 15-year-old teenager and excellent student was brought to Kyiv mental hospital (“Hlevaha”). There attending physician Zhanna Koretska looked intently into boy’s eyes: “You’ve got such thoughts, such thoughts!” And YAKUBIVSKYI was given a voucher for life: “Schizophrenia, simple form” followed with a security against a risk: “The patient is allowed to enter an institute of higher education.”

In 1970, in his entrance-exam essay at Kyiv University he mentioned the novel Sobor which was considered ideologically wrong. He worked as a junior editor in the regional newspaper "Prapor Komunizmu" in the Town of Chudniv. The next year, the acceptance board looked at his A certificate, references from newspapers and a pile of clippings with his publications and his draft card and showed the door: “Just look, a psycho wants to enter the university!" He had to forge his medical certificate. Three years at the department of philology he studied like on wheels learning his native Ukrainian and Modern Greek. From his youth he kept writing poetry.

On 18.03.1974, in accordance with the separate resolution of the Kyiv Oblast Court in the case of Y. PRONIUK, V.LISOVYI and V.OVSIYENKO the Komsomol meeting of the departmental organization took place; the speakers at the meeting defamed YAKUBIVSKYI for making notes of the book Internationalism or Russification? by I. Dziuba and frank sympathy for the arrested V.OVSIYENKO, with whom he lived in a dorm room for a year. Professor Marharyta Karpenko said: “You’d better peach on Vasyl and you’d be top dog again... and now we need to fight for the integrity of our ranks, you know.” Professor Valentine Povazhnaya mouthed: "To live in one room and not to know what is in the bag of your neighbor is not a Komsomol-like behavior!” He was excluded from Komsomol, and expelled from the University as well on 30.03.1974.

YAKUBIVSKYI tried to find a job as a journalist in Zhytomyr and two weeks later he was expelled as untrustworthy. He got a job as a loader at a flax-processing combine. The KGB offered him to report on the sentiments of the workers. YAKUBIVSKYI refused and on the same day, on 13.06.1974, at the pass-through post the agents wrung his hands and took him to the remand center and then to Zhytomyr psychiatric hospital “on Huyva”. Dr. Pavlo Kuznetsov prescribed drastic neuroleptics (haloperidol, sulfazin, tryftazin, chlorpromazine, etc.), after which you no longer know in which world you are. They tied him to the bed of boards. The orderlies called him: "Here goes the independent Ukraine! Ha, ha…” He was discharged three months later, on 05.09.1974, making some unknown injections, from which it took him a year to recover: it was hard even to utter words. KGB officer Borys Zavalnyi, when asked about the cause of this hazing, said: “It was done for humanitarian reasons”. And another one: “You’re lucky to be alive… We might do it in a different way: you’ll be like crazy… and go pasturing geese."

When later YAKUBIVSKYI came to Kyiv to seek protection, he was sent to Kyiv madhouse "Pavlivka" where "humane" Dr. Danylo Brandus confirmed the report of informers that YAKUBIVSKYI allegedly walked naked about the hostel. And he kept him with raving lunatics.

For a year of madhouses YAKUBIVSKYI received over 500 injections of drastic neuroleptics.

Nobody of the surviving frightened former Sixtiers, to whom YAKUBIVSKYI turned, stirred a finger to help him.

In 1976, at the request of Kyiv University Vice-rector Horshkov YAKUBIVSKYI had to write a "statement of repentance", something like: "Admit me to the postal tuition at the Department of Philology, I will not be in for nationalism.” He got a job of a freelance correspondent for the newspaper "Kyivska Pravda", but failed to become a mendacious Soviet journalist. In 1977, he got a job of the researcher at the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life for a meager salary. The old khatas, churches and windmills, communication with museum-goers helped him to survive in the days of Brezhnev obscurantism. In 1992, he was fired from there for trying to protect the priceless exhibits.

In 1980, he married. His wife’s name is Liudmyla, daughter Yaroslav, b. 1982, son Taras, b. 1986.

On 19.08.1993, after 25 years, the commission of experts of the Association of Psychiatrists of Ukraine (S. HLUZMAN, V.Chernyavskyi, N.Vergun) acknowledged him mentally healthy: “Based on the study of medical records and the results of this examination, the experts have concluded that citizen Yakubivskyi Mykhailo Mykhailovych during the period from 1968 to 1975 had no chronic mental illnesses (schizophrenia) and presently shows no symptoms of mental illness.”

In connection with a number of press publications, radio and TV broadcasts about the Soviet punitive psychiatry Yakubivskyi appealed to the prosecutor’s office demanding rehabilitation. However, the current functionaries at the prosecutor’s office do not consider Yakubivskyi repressed (“…your treatment at neuropsychiatric hospitals was not a compulsory medical measure…”). According to the Law of Ukraine on the rehabilitation of victims of repression from 17.04.1991 only convicted persons may be considered as repressed.

He was unemployed, worked as a journalist, assistant and writer for people’s deputies of Ukraine.

He lives in Kyiv.




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