ALL-UKRAINIAN “MEMORIAL” SOCIETY NAMED IN HONOUR OF VASYL STUS
The All-Ukrainian “Memorial” Society named in honour of Vasyl Stus began as a mass civic organization created on the wave of perestroika in spring 1988 (the charter meeting was in March 1989). The Society was then joined by around 360 thousand people, including victims of repression, their children with their families. Since April 1991 “Memorial” has been named in honour of Vasyl STUS. The founders were creative unions, editorial boards of journals, the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, artists, scientists, students and activists of the democratic movement. The main objectives were: public investigation into mass repressions, promotion of investigation into violations of the law, immortalizing the memory of victims of repression, the moral regeneration of society. Despite persecution, intimidation and psychological pressure from the official press, “Memorial” organized rallies, demonstrations and campaigned for democratic candidates during the first democratic elections. Thanks to the persistence of members of “Memorial” and its lobbying of deputies, on 17 April 1991 the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR passed the Law “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression in Ukraine”.
In 1992 “Memorial” put forward the idea of creating an Anti-communist and Anti-imperialist Front and, in cooperation with other organizations, ran hearings entitled “Communism – the dead end of civilization”, and created a Ukrainian National Committee for organizing an International trial of the Communist Parties of the USSR and of Ukraine (“Nuremburg – 2”). On its initiative a deputies’ association “Nuremburg – 2” was created, an international symposium “Holodomor – 1933” organized, and conferences have been run on human rights and actions on psychiatric defence of the population.
“Memorial” has organized documentary exhibitions of the works of artist-victims of repression Alla HORSKA, Viktor Zaretsky, Opanas ZALYVAKHA, Fedosiy Humenyuk, Veniamin Kushnir, Halyna Sevruk, Ludmila Semykina and others; evenings in memory of victims of repression from the fields of culture, literature, science, as well as speaking in schools and institutes and taking part in radio and television programs.
With the help of “Memorial” the following films and television programs have been made: “Famine – 33” (directed by O. Yanchuk), “1933 – witness testimony” (directed by M. Laktyunov-Stetsko), “Ou hore, hore…” [“O sorrow, sorrow ..”] and “Ya yest narod” [“I am the people”] by P. Farynyuk, “Kryk” [“Cry”] by O. Kryvarchuk, “Dolya poeta” [“The fate of a poet”] about Ivan SVITLYCHNY, “Battalions of the NKVD” and “Lyubit” (a film about Bykivnya) by L. Bykin, a cycle of films about the Solovky Camps, “Zona”, directed by M. Mashchenko, the film of R. and B. Korogodsky about Ukrainian dissidents, a cycle of 12 television films directed by Inna Strashko about writer – victims of repression, about the Ukrainian Resistance Army (UPA), a film about Vasyl STUS “Black candle lighting the way” by S. Chernylevsky, and others.
Since May 1989 “Memorial” has been holding ceremonies in the Bykivnya Forest near Kyiv to honour the memory of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the NKVD who lie in unmarked graves. The Kyiv branch of “Memorial” (headed by Roman Krutsyk) prepared an exhibition entitled: “Not to be Forgotten: A Chronicle of the Communist Inquisition in Ukraine 1917 – 1991”, including an Internet version in several languages. Since 2005 “Memorial” has been involved in the creation of a Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance.
“Memorial” creates programs for young people “Memorial – education”, video and photo archives on the Internet. It organizes camps for Ukrainian youth “Along the path of heroes” through the places of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) – UPA, expeditions on Remembrance Day for Victims of Political Repression to the Sandarmokh Clearing and Solovky.
Since 1993 “Memorial” has been chaired by Les TANYUK.