MARYNOVYCH Myroslav Frankovych
author: Vasyl Ovsiyenko
V. Ovsiyenko: February 1, 2000. Mr. Myroslav Marynovych. Recording is made by Vasyl Ovsiyenko. In Drohobych.
M. Marynovych: I would like to start with the family: how my views were shaped up, how my oppositional attitude emerged (though it was not unambiguous; it is all in a lifetime).
So, I believe that I come of a family of Greek-Catholic priest for my mother was a daughter of the former Greek- Catholic priest who was the center of not only our family, but also of all our kinfolk. Moreover, he was the spiritual epicenter attracting not only our family but also the whole Village of Viysko in the area of Kalwaria Pacławska, where he conducted ministry for 25 or 26 years. Of course, he was a typical Halychyna priest, i.e. a public-spirited activist who was a member of “Prosvita” because it was a generation brought up by Sheptytskyi. In short, my grandfather’s parish was organized according to the best standards of contemporary Halychyna life: there the village choir sang not only folk and spiritual songs, but also staged operas; there was also a reading room “Prosvita”, cooperative “Farmer”, kindergarten, women’s courses in cooking, such military and sports associations as “Sich”… Accordingly, the children were brought up in the national and religious spirit. Already in wartime we reaped the fruits of our labor. Thus, the oldest son of my grandfather was arrested after the arrival of the first… My mother will tell you more precisely when he was arrested: during the “first Soviets” or “second ones”. Somehow I didn’t fix my attention on it. In any case, he perished in Siberia: he died six months after he had been brought to Magadan. His name was Antin Marynovych. (Myroslav’s Mother says that Antin Marynovych was arrested in 1944 and sentenced to twenty years of hard labor and three years later he perished in the gold mines in Magadan.—V.O.).
I have the family name of my grandfather—father Yosyp Marynovych, though my father’s family name was Dytso. When my father divorced us, I took my mother’s family name, so since I was eighteen my family name was Marynovych.
Thus, the family kept the memory of national and religious life. For some time I was skeptical about religion: influence of young years, contemporary trends, but I never lost respect for priests, church life, because this was the life of my grandfather, whom I loved very much and adored.
V. Ovsiyenko: Is this commemorative plate in the Stebnyk church dedicated to him?
M. Marynovych: Yes, yes, it is. His lot was very difficult, because he was a Greek Catholic priest, who in 1945 was arrested like many priests arrested then because they were Greek Catholic priests, and in prison they were forced to adopt Orthodoxy. As they explained me in America later, he was one of those underground activists who were tasked to rescue what they could—church, traditions, language—from complete impending Russification. But only a few people knew about it; officially he was a member of the initiative group for liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church. He was a member of the Lviv Synod in 1946. When I watched newsreels of the time, I saw him there, his tragic face. He made a speech, in which, of course, he praised what had to be praised. But the whole family and I know what his real creed was. His people, his parishioners knew about it as well. Former underground activists told how in 1945 and in 1946 he visited their secret dugouts, where during the Great Lent he heard the confessions and administered communion to the insurgents. And after the “liquidation Synod” he met the leaders of the underground in Viysk. So, even though he became an Orthodox priest, he still remained a patriot to the end. And in Stebnyk where he was forced to move after in 1947 the Bolsheviks had carried out “Operation Vistula” they keep a good memory of him as a parish. He built there a church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in the days when Khrushchev destroyed churches everywhere. The construction was initiated by Father Petro Mekelyta who managed to build the framework but soon was arrested by the Bolsheviks and tortured to death in the torture chambers of the NKVD. in 1954 my grandfather completed the construction and interior arrangement of the church. Incidentally, he preserved and placed in the church the copy of miraculous Calvary Icon, which is not only spiritual but a national relic as well…
Therefore I was brought up in the family with such psychological, mental background which molded me as a Ukrainian.
About my father I can say only that as a young lad he took part in the Polish-Ukrainian War. So my father was a patriot also. And so everything was the way it should be in my family.
I was born on January 4, 1949 in the Village of Komarovychi whereto my family was forced to move from Viysk because of the same “Operation Vistula”. This village was located nearby the new Polish border. Then for a while we lived in Sambir, and in 1955 we moved to Drohobych.
As regards the school, I went to the Soviet school in Drohobych, the atmosphere in which differed from that in our family. I should say that, as I wrote in my memoirs “Crisscrosses of a Drohobych Townsman” (Published in: Freedom Letters. Myroslav Marynovych, Semen Hluzman, Zinoviy Antoniuk. Kyiv: Sfera, 1999.—P. 10-25.—V.O.), I could not escape a kind of skepticism and combined, on the one hand, national feelings, but on the other I aspired to be an active member of the Komsomol, though I was annoyed that they admitted to the Komsomol all and everybody without choosing. Why drag a person by the ears to the Young Communist League? You do not want you stay outside, and those who do want should be active. It was a kind of a youthful idealism. Then everything fell into place, everything became clear. But I do not want to hide it: that is I do not want to paint an unclouded picture of my formation and one thing and another. I wrote in my memoirs that I could tonight with my mother sing quietly “Ukraine Has Not Yet Died” and tomorrow at the City Komsomol Committee I strived to achieve freedom of choice for people.
My first difficulties began in the institute. As a freshman I was the Komsomol organizer of the students of my year of study. But as a sophomore I seized to be a Komsomol organizer. We lived in a dorm, and there, as usual, many a student bantered about Soviet reality. One can easily imagine that lifestyle: guys, young people occasionally came together—either to drink wine, or just for some conversation—and political analysis of events was always skeptical about the Soviet Union and Communists. Finally my colleague living in the same hostel with me blew a whistle on me to the KGB: he called me by name and stated that I was unhappy with the fact that in Kyiv I heard only Russian (how come it is the capital of Ukraine, if everything there is in Russian?). He also repeated my skeptical words about communists because at the time we’d just caught the only communist among the students of our year of study stealing the yearly project. This enabled us to make fun of communists in general. Already as a junior I was summoned to the first department for an interview and started frightening me with expulsion into cooperation and recruiting me as a squealer.
This was my first experience of clash with KGB. I should confess that overall it was a pretty difficult period of my life: I was still looking for my way. I remember when I went to see one of my remote kinsman in Lviv and asked him about what is to be done and other how-tos. And he said: You feign a dunce and don’t kick against the pricks”. I began to play around, but they knew how to tackle such fools and I could not fool them for long. However, it gave me the opportunity to go through that first shock that I can be expelled from the institute, etc. And it really helped me that, after the first conversation when I was terribly depressed and returned to my hostel, I just found guys in my room drinking wine and chin-wagging about Brezhnev! And then immediately a moral problem emerged: should I listen to this talking and squeal on them tomorrow? It was clear to me that this was just unacceptable for me and I told the guys, “You know, I’ve just been summoned to the KGB, and they want me to be an informant. Would you believe it or not but now I warn you: you’d better stop talking like that in my presence… I will try and beat off their pressing demand in order to study and to evade becoming a squealer”.
So my incessant struggle set in. My confidence increased, I learned how to speak with the KGB, to protect my own interests. When they realized that I duped them they decided that it was high time to punish me and they debarred my training at the chair of military instruction. So after graduation (getting ahead of my story), I went for a year to serve as a soldier, not an officer, and therefore I remained a non-com.
V. Ovsiyenko: Did you go to Lviv University in 1967?
M. Marynovych: Not to the university but to the Lviv Polytechnic, electrophysics department, until 1972. I studied semiconductor devices.
V. Ovsiyenko: Yeah, exactly in those years I also studied at the University of Kyiv. Obviously, the chair of military instruction was in the curriculum of the second year of study?
M. Marynovych: Of the third year of study.
V. Ovsiyenko: We attended military training in the second, third and fourth years of study.
M. Marynovych: And we did it in the third, fourth, fifth… The fifth year was a decisive one for me. Before the beginning of the academic year I met in Kyiv my future friends, including Mykola Matusevych. In no time we became the best friends, we became inseparable friends. I was carried away by Kyiv: in Lviv, among Halychyna inhabitants, who supposedly were expected to be nationally-minded, I did not come across such a strong national feeling which as in Kyiv, when I approached the underground station “Bilshovyk”. There gathered Ukrainians, all in embroidered shirts, lots and lots of them… I could not take my eyes off: it’s in Kyiv! Since then I wanted to go to Kyiv; I wanted to be among them and not in Lviv.
When I was a fifth-year student, on May 22… No, a little later: I was working already… So, before the end of the fifth year I was again summoned to the KGB, and the haggling started once more: “Excuse us if we have put excessive pressure on you. Currently you’re a graduating senior. We promise you an apartment in Lviv in six months and work at the institute, but on conditions that you will cooperate with us”. I refused. At that time for me it was already easy to do for I had managed to make friends with many Kyivites and I was past being afraid then. I already knew what the future might hold.
In 1972 I moved to Ivano-Frankivsk. For one year I worked there at the Positron Plant. Obviously, I was there under observation as well because I was summoned to the first department there too. It was a controlled-access enterprise and they did it with everyone, so, on the one hand, it caused no surprise. On the other hand, they didn’t shut out the hope of convincing me somehow… What were the methods of pressure? I worked there in the information department as a translator from English, and when there was a need to hold an exhibition of devices produced at our factory in Vienna, I had to go there with the exhibits. But I was called to the first department and they asked me: “Well, now… will you be an informer or not?”−“No, I will not”. Consequently, I was not allowed to travel abroad. Well, it was nothing: I could do without this trip.
Now, let’s go on. On the eve of May 22, 1973 I arrived in Kyiv on a business trip: the plant sent me on a business mission. Well, since I was in Kyiv on May 22, how could I not go to monument to Shevchenko on the day of reburial of his ashes in Ukraine? But we decided not to trouble trouble. Thus, the compromise was found: we would go in the morning, even before the working hours. Mykola Matusevych, I and Natalia Yakovenko (now a known historian of Ukraine) bought flowers and went to the monument to Shevchenko. We came there, laid flowers and stood for a while, and parted to do things. I went to the Zhuliany Airport to buy tickets. When I arrived there, I was immediately approached by militiaman and asked to follow him to the militia station. They said that there was some suspicion concerning me, there was something wrong, and this was an airfield… It was just an excuse for search. They checked all my staff, and when the KGB officer, who led the search, asked: “For what purpose did you go to the monument to Shevchenko?” I immediately understood what the real cause was. I said that it went for me (I already knew how to hold the stage in such conversations) and that Shevchenko was not a prohibited poet.
When I returned to Ivano-Frankivsk, I was summoned to the first department and they tried to drive me into a corner. It was sort of a decisive conversation, because then they said, “We see that you evolve in a wrong direction and you’ve approached a very dangerous limit. You must understand that he who is not with us is against us. Choose for yourself”. It was formulated so clearly that I also clearly said, “Well, I’ll be against you”. So, in 1973 I realized that I’d made my choice, and I never wavered. The first period, when a person chooses his own path, came to an end.
I did not work at the plant for long, because the next year in the fall I was called up for military service. My chiefs tried to come to an agreement about me with the draft board to leave me at work, but the absolute refusal followed. My chief (by the way, she was Russian) hinted to me that the KGB was against leaving me at the plant. In the army they openly kept me under observation. I realized that their first department knew me and was alertly on the lookout. They gave me to understand that they kept me under control. But the army is the army: I served one year. There were no grounds for any kind of persecution.
V. Ovsiyenko: And where did you serve? In Vologda? In what months?
M. Marynovych: From November 1973 to November 1974, I served in Vologda, in the anti-aircraft forces. The only thing I can say about this time is that it was much more difficult for me to serve one year in the army than to serve seven years in the camp. It was psychologically more difficult because in the army you’re nothing but a slave, while in the camp I could struggle somehow.
When I returned home from the army, I faced difficult family circumstances. I divorced my first wife, whom I married before the draft, and I had to go somewhere. At the Positron Plant in Ivano-Frankivsk they didn’t want to employ me as they decided that they did not like to have a nationalist. Legally they could not turn me down, but they offered me a job, which I could not accept. It was something very primitive, and I refused. And I left the plant.
I decided to seek employment in Kyiv; I wanted to turn to Mykola Matusevych to stay with him. At first I moved to Vasylkiv, where Mykola lived. We looked for a job in Vasylkiv. At times I found fly-by-night jobs such as electrician or loader there; however there was no steady job. Then I got married in Vasylkiv the First near Kyiv, in Kalynivka. Occasionally someone found me a job, and I could work for a brief period. For example, for a few months in 1975 I worked as a layout man in the office of Elementary School Journal. In fact, they hired me on the quite under advice of my friends. And when the KGB found out that I started working there, the editor in chief was panic-stricken: she did not know how to get rid of me. She was afraid that I might convert everybody to my own enthusiasms… and you know all these stories. In short, during these months the tension tended to increase.
In general, the editorial staff liked me, I was in good with everybody, but the editor did everything to get rid of me. And she thought up how to do it. Since I was hired for a period of maternity leave of a woman, she was forced to come to work just a week after she gave birth to a child. And I was told that my contract expired and I had to quit. When the woman came to work, we saw each other. She then understood everything and apologized to me and said, “I could not understand what the matter was: I did not want to go yet, but they forced me. They said that had to go to work for three days and then return to maternity leave. They simply had to comply with formalities and so I turned up for work”. Therefore I had to quit.
There were also some other ads: I came, landed a job, and within a very short time everything was done to get rid of me.
I remember an interesting moment. It happened in the Society of Book Lovers in Kyiv. It was located in the Writers’ House on Yaroslaviv Val Street. When I got the job there, on the first day the party organizer—a young, very young party organizer—met with me. He felt that I might be a promising staffer and started talking to me, “Look here, skip it! Aren’t you a party member yet? You’d rather join the party and you’ll have an apartment, anything…” Then he did not know yet who I was. Just in a day or two the KGB elucidated the situation and he could hardly look at me: I realized at that moment that when he talked to me, he revealed himself fully as a timeserver, revealed why he became a party member. I do not even remember now what the direct cause was but in a short time I left the job there. Maybe out of my own free will: it was very sad to work in the suffocative ideological atmosphere.
Wherever I applied, my Ukrainian language looked very suspicious. However I had to have something to live for, because I have exhausted all resources supplied by my relatives. And once I carried out an experiment. I found out that the Tekhnika Publishers needed a layout man. I came for an interview and spoke Russian. Oh, well, everything was fine, there was vacancy and I was hired. I spoke Russian for three days until the order was approved, and on the fourth day I began to speak Ukrainian. They were in a state of shock! (Laughs). The administration understood that it made a blunder. But again there emerged an interesting situation. I had to fill the second-rate orders which nobody else wanted to go about and I worked very conscientiously and performed at the rate of 150 percent, always behaved politely and kindly and again the staffers came to like me, even my boss.
But… I started to work there sometime in early September 1976, and in November became a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. It was clear that I could not stay for long in this job. And what did they come up with this time? Before the New Year, in late December, the director of the publishing house called me and offered a step-up. It looked very interesting: copy editor, higher wages, and much better working conditions. But in order to do so, I had to comply with the formalities; I was to submit two applications—the first to oust me from the previous place, and the second to assign a new job. I smiled and let him to understand that I knew what it meant. Nonetheless I wrote both applications. In January, though, sometime before the tenth of January, when I came to get a new job, he said, “Sorry, certain changes have taken place: we’ve carried out the staff reduction”. I said, "I told you that I understand what it was all about. Goodbye”. And I went away.
Mykola Matusevych loved fighting with the administration, took it to court, but I thought it was a waste of psychological forces, and did not want to do that. I knew that one way or another, sooner or later I would be fired. And this my lack of aggression created positive psychological atmosphere for me among the personnel. Everyone understood what had happened and psychologically the staffers were on my side. It was important, at least for me.
So, I was again out of work. On the one hand, it was good, because at that time Mykola also was jobless and we could go and do real work for the Group: say, to Lukyanenko in Chernihiv, to General Hryhorenko in Moscow. So we had sort of freedom of movement. But at the same time nobody paid for the membership in the group, but we had to have something to live on, and I continued looking for another job, not in prestigious publishing houses this time.
And my last job before my arrest was billsticker. As far as I remember it was in April 1977: I was arrested on the 23rd and it happened about the 19th or 20th of April. In the "Job Vacancies" ad of Kyivmiskdovidka I read that the billsticker was wanted. I came with my passport and diploma. A friendly Russian-speaking woman received me. I put my documents on the table and said, “I’d like to work as a billsticker”. She looked at me: “With a diploma?” I said: “Yes, with a diploma. Let’s agree as follows: I’ll go out and wait in the hallway. And you just call the KGB and ask whether I am allowed me to work in Kyivmiskdovidka. I do not want those false employments and firings, I’d just like to work where I would be allowed. So just call them”. She looked at me dumbfounded and said, “No, I like you. I won’t be calling them and I hire you now”. So I started working. For two days I had to work with another person to learn from the experience of sticking advertising materials and on the third day, on Saturday, I had to go out on my own in my area of work. Well, on that very Saturday morning they arrested me. That is they arrested me as billsticker and I had great satisfaction insisting that in all KGB documents I was registered as billsticker. But they were not inclined to do it, because in this case they found themselves in an awkward situation.
V. Ovsiyenko: So the job-seeking ordeal came to an end on April 23, 1977?
M. Marynovych: Right, on 23 April 1977.
V. Ovsiyenko: But I’d like to hear how you came to Helsinki Group.
M. Marynovych: When I moved to Kyiv, thanks to Mykola Matusevych I joined the group of conscientious Ukrainians. It included Antonenko-Davydovych, Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska, wives of political prisoners Vira Lisova, Halyna Didkivska (wife of Yevhen Proniuk) and others, Tamila Matusevych, Alla Koval of Homin Chorus… The Homin choristers were very active then. This Ukrainian patriotic environment gave a lot not only for the soul but for a sort of resistance, for a feeling that you could do something.
I remember one case from those years (somewhere in the period from 1975 to spring 1977). My friends and I decided to celebrate the Kupala Night. Realizing that in Kyiv they will not let us do anything, we decided to go to the native village of one of the girls from our circle. It is interesting that when we got there, the whole village knew in advance that the Banderivetses were coming and something terrible awaited them. The villagers were in a continual stew for fear of something terrible. Such was the story the relatives of that girl told us. We had dropped the matter and went to the river, built a fire and began celebrating the Kupala Night. And all of us were able singers and everything looked fine. In the evening, when it was getting dark, the young people began to gather; they stood at a distance watching how we were playing. Then they also built a fire, and later, when it was already dark, one by one they treated to us, and eventually a dozen or so of young people started playing with us.
V. Ovsiyenko: Do you remember the name of the village?
M. Marynovych: No, I do not.
V. Ovsiyenko: Was it near Kyiv?
M. Marynovych: We went there from Kyiv for, maybe, three hours by train and then by bus. I do not remember the name of the village now.
For two years we organized the koledari carolers to start their rounds on the streets of Kyiv, of course, on December 31, not on Christmas Eve. But it was very difficult to realize. I do not remember in what year—it seems to me in 1975— Mykola was arrested on December 31. We were preparing for caroling: rehearsed carols, prepared the carolers. I remember that day I spent night not in Kyiv, not in Tamila Matusevych’s apartment (because I often spent nights in their apartment, I stayed with Mykola). And then we had to meet with Mykola, but he failed to come where he had to be. I then went to the apartment but he was not there; I went to his work, but he was not there as well. So something happened. And when I came running from the last place, when I realized that something must be done, I wanted to hail a taxi. But there was no taxi, and I stopped the first available car which drove up. It stopped and I asked the driver for a lift… I do not remember now where I want to go then. “Get in.” I got in—and it’s amazing because I do not know what, but something prompted me that I got in the KGB car! Then I laughed out loud, but the driver said, “Quit it, maybe now it won’t be that funny”. And I said, “Don’t be a smart mouth with me, it’s come home to me, what sort of lift this is."
This car brought me to Teatralny Hotel… No, not to Teatralny Hotel, but up the former Lenin Street, a bit up the street and to the left of the monument.
V. Ovsiyenko: There was the Hotel Ukraine.
M. Marynovych: Yes, I mean the car drove me to the Hotel Ukraine. They took me to a hotel room for an interview. A KGB officer started talking to me, I began answering something: a strange conversation, were just shooting the breeze. Then I got tougher telling him to cut the blab. “Well, you just wait a bit!” He went out and stayed away for quite a time. I began to realize that they deliberately played for time, and when he reappeared, I insisted that conversation was over and I intended to go now. I went out and found somewhere Olga Heiko who was the wife of Mykola at that time already. We rushed to look for Mykola, to call the militia… And then we realized why they kept me waiting: during that time the trial of Mykola took place: he was sentenced to 15 days “for disorderly conduct”. And overnight they staged an episode of organized hooliganism. He was approached by a man who asked a cigarette, Mykola stopped to give him a cigarette and the man started yelling, “Help! Stop attacking me!” and so on. Like a bolt from the blue there popped up militia, some people, and Mykola was immediately detained… In general, Mykola is full of pep, but this time it was something else, a fake ruffianism.
Thus, on the 31st Mykola got into a jug, but we went on with the Kupala Night caroling all the same. We understood that this was done to exert psychological pressure so that the entire band broke up. Well, the officers failed and the band did not break up; we only agreed that each of us would take her/his passport with her/him and everyone would categorically refuse any requests to have a drink or something like that. We tried to stick together. The public response to our carols was very nice. We understood that we were followed and followed very close, but we diverted ourselves all the same. We amused people and amused ourselves, maybe a little nervously, but in any case we did pretend that we had fun.
Another time, I think it was in 1976, because Mykola was also still with us, our Koliada festivities proceeded a bit nervously, with some degree of confrontation. The militiamen came up to us and said, “Stop it! Go home, please.” Such was the official treatment of our Koliada festivities, but people responded very eagerly. We visited famous people: Antonenko-Davydovych, widow of Hmyria. The widow is no more, but that Hanna, who lived in their house, still remembers those our visits to them.
So it was a kind of antagonism, opposition, which led directly to pre-arrest situation, which was felt by the public. The Shevchenko Evening in March 1977 was for us the last very important event. Both of us were already members of the Group, both of us were out of work; we knew that sooner or later this would end with arrest, especially as Mykola Rudenko and Oleksa Tykhyi had been arrested by then. By the way, on the day of their arrest on February 5, 1977, when Mykola and I were walking down the street in Kyiv… I do not remember now where it happened… it seems that in the area of today’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (I’ve forgotten how it was called then; thank God, I’ve forgotten…).
V. Ovsiyenko: Apparently, the Square of Zhovtneva Revolution, and before that it was named Kalinin Square. And in the olden days it was called Kozyne Boloto, where Shevchenko, they say, mowed grass.
M. Marynovych: So then we were brutally apprehended on the street: “Quite! Get into the car”. Shoved us into the car, brought to the KGB house on Rosa Luxemburg Street, kept us apart and told each of us something like: “You’re in for nothing. You either quit it and we leave you alone; or if you do not quit, you are formally notified that you will be arrested”. Well, we did not quit, and the consequences were appropriate.
So we knew that sooner or later we would be arrested, and inner fear of arrest was subdued…
And the Shevchenko Evening I want to tell you about took place on 9 or 10 March. By the way, occasionally it is mentioned (either in the articles or on the radio), so it is not a completely unknown page for Ukrainians. For us it was a very important event. We came to this Shevchenko Evening: Mykola, his sister Tamila, Olga Heiko and I, and several Ukrainian girls joined our circle. Well, what could the program of such evening include in stagnant year of 1977?
V. Ovsiyenko: Where did it take place?
M. Marynovych: In Kyiv Philharmonic. As usual, the officials included the worst items in the program: first came the report (I do not remember whose—perhaps Shamota?) on “Lenin and Shevchenko”: the author maintained that Lenin was an ardent worshipper of Shevchenko, that even in Krakow he went to Shevchenko’s Evening. Although the audience consisted of nationalists, Lenin decided to go to that nest of nationalists because he respected Shevchenko so much… In short, it was mockery of everything.
As far as I remember, the concert began with a song about communist party. The concert itself was a disaster: only Shevchenko’s diaries were quoted (which were written in Russian, as you know); all songs were either neutral or about the happy life in the Soviet Union. Terrible desecration. During the entr’acte Mykola and I talked the things over and decided that something had to be done. We agreed to put on something. At the end of the second part (and it was not better than the first one), I remember, the performers sang something good, most probably it was “Hey, my brother”. In short, one number was good, and a standing ovation followed after it; and then they sang an encore about communist party once more! Well, we couldn’t contain ourselves any longer: nie do wytrzymania, as Poles put it. We came closer to the stage, and once it was announced that the concert was over and people started to get up, I rushed onto the stage, got hold of the mike and asked people to linger over… I cannot repeat word for word what I said, but the gist of it was as follows: we have to remember that Lenin not only loved to listen to “Appassionata” by Beethoven, but also he liked to sing Shevchenko’s “Testament” (well, sheer bluff, but in the style of the so-called Evening). I saw that people have stopped going out and began smiling. They picked up the hint: how can Shevchenko’s Evening be finished without the “Testament”? So I offered them to sing in chorus the “Testament”, because everybody knew the words by heart. The audience joined me, “Okay, let’s sing”. With their consent, I went to the piano, sat down, and was about to strike the first chord. At that very moment a woman came running from the coulisse, she looked like an administrator; she grabs my hands and demanded in Russian: “Stop it now!” I wanted to play and she constrained me. Well, I was not going to fight with a woman on stage: of course, that was impossible. I got up and made a helpless gesture… Then Mykola jumped onto the scene and in his thunderous voice shouted: “For shame!” And the hall responded in chorus: “Ashamed we are!"
Mykola and I jumped off the stage, our girls just come up and said, “Set the tune!” I started singing, the girls picked up and after a few seconds the whole audience was singing. Even those who managed to exit returned to the hall. The house was packed and we sang the “Testament”. The KGB officer ran onto the stage screaming into the microphone: “The concert has ended, fall out! Fall out!’ But the “Testament” rang out. The administration started flashing lights, and then turned them off completely and committed a blunder, because in the dark hall the “Testament” sung by a hundred voices resounded more powerful! When they finally realized this and then turned on the light, I saw tears in the eyes of women: they were weeping and singing.
We sang the “Testament” to the end… People came up to us, greeted us, and thanked: “Well done guys, well done!” Gradually Mykola, our girls, and I stepped toward the exit. We decided to wait until the audience came and took their clothes in the cloakroom. We beat it… We went out onto the street. The picture we saw at the time will be remembered for life: on the street, opposite the entrance to the Philharmonic, a black ‘Volga” was parked and the people who had gone out encircled the KGB car and even stepped onto the traffic area. And such silent encirclement stood waiting for us. We saw there was a path to this car, but nobody hopped off the car and nobody invited us there (obviously people stood in their way). We laughed, because that picture could not be perceived calmly and went to the underpass to the left, and we were followed by the whole semicircle encircling us on the way. All people followed us and it was a kind of procession. The guys kept running up to us for a brief moment to say “Thank you,” shake hands with us and join the semicircle again. It felt pretty good… and only somewhere in the middle of Khreshchatyk Street (perhaps near the Khreshchatyk Subway Station) I saw that the people began to dissolve: they understood that at least this evening nothing else would happen.
In our joy that all has gone well we then decided to continue to fly in the face of providence. We said: “Let’s go to Shevchenko”. Our small group went to the monument to Shevchenko and sang there the “Testament”. We were surprised that no one prevented us from doing it. Later I realized: because the impending arrest was to take place in a month. They already knew that we were doomed; the timing and proper procedures were the only problems for them at the time…
I remember another interesting episode thenadays. The Mariya Zankovetska Lviv Theater was on tour in Kyiv; they produced the play “Zankovetska” about this famous actress. This performance was considered revolutionary at the time. I remember, for example, the words of gendarme in this performance: "What in Moscow is a riot means revolution in Kyiv”. It’s about the situation that in Kyiv they permit themselves lesser than in Moscow.
Mykola and I knew that the house would be packed by Ukrainians and conspired to carry out a protest action. One of us put on a yellow shirt, and the other put on the blue one (I do not remember who put on which one). We went to the theater. Some of our friends saw us before the performance and commented: “What a screwball idea!” We walked together everywhere and those who knew understood what it was all about.
What we came up with during the performance? When the gendarme pronounced the words “…means revolution in Kyiv”, Mykola and I began to applaud loudly. And, you know, due to a reflex action people also started to clap and then, come to consciousness (why are they clapping?), calmed down… When the play ended, we went on stage with flowers. We came close to one another creating an image of blue-and-yellow flag, presented the actors with flowers and began talking with the artists to stay on the stage imaging the flag for a couple of minutes. When we returned to the auditorium, one of our girls—it seems it was Halyna Didkivska—said: “O God, guys, ain’t you afraid?"—"Why? In fact, it’s only a shirt and nothing more”.
Such were forms of protest, forms of struggle… This, basically, is what is called “civil society”, something we almost never had, but what should have been carried out by everyone: to defend their own interests every day, every second.
Finally, I want to go to Helsinki Group… The above actions built up our names in Kyiv. At that time there were many Ukrainian women—very active, very patriotic—while guys were already imprisoned in the camps. We stood out sharply against the background of the company of girls. Other guys were somehow less active. Well, there was also such activist as Yevhen Obertas. By the way, you should have a talk with him also, because he knows a lot.
V. Ovsiyenko: Sure, I shall go to him.
M. Marynovych: He has to say something… So one evening (it happened after the October holidays in November 1976), Mykola and I were walking down the street near the Dnipro Hotel—I do not remember exactly where—and ran into Oksana Yakivna Mieshko. “Oh, good evening!”—“Good evening!”—“Well, how are you, guys?” We started talking and she said, “Listen, you’re young… join the group, such and such group headed by Mykola Rudenko is being organized now. Join the group now: we’re composing its first document!” She said that if we agree, tomorrow she goes to Mykola Danylovych in Koncha Zaspa and it would be good to go there together.
We said goodbye to one another. Mykola and I went on buried in our thoughts. On the one hand, both of us understood that this was something bigger than singing Christmas carols and for such actions we might be punished with arrest. We understood that, in fact, we had to decide now if we had courage to be arrested. We had had somehow psychologically to get used to it. On the other hand, it was clear that if we gave up now (I do not remember which one of us said it, but we definitely discussed it), we would never forgive ourselves, would hold ourselves in contempt, and the thought would keep haunting us that we had such opportunity, but we were afraid and did not accept the proposition.
Therefore we had no option and we decided to join the group. The next day we called Oksana Yakivna and went with her to Rudenko in Koncha Zaspa. He told that on the night after the formation of the group a stone was thrown into their apartment. In fact, there were several stones. At the time both he and Rayisa Opanasivna were absent, and Oksana Yakivna experienced a shock when these stones broke the window and flew into the room. Rudenko put one on one several volumes of Marx and on top of them he put these stones, then he photographed the pile, and the photograph with the caption of “How the KGB saluted the creation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group” then spread all over the world… It was a kind of euphoria for us: we were fighting!
We offered our services, he was very happy, and we were admitted to the group. Indeed, it was in the making at the time. It took some time to choose those first ten founding members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. And we visited Rudenko, maybe, on 10-11 November.
V. Ovsiyenko: On November 9, 1976, in the evening, Mykola Rudenko held a press conference in the Moscow apartment of Alexander Ginzburg, and after an hour or two on the same evening those stones were thrown in Koncha Zaspa. But he said that both Oksana Yakivna and Rayisa Rudenko were present in the apartment at the time… so he maintains himself.
M. Marynovych: Yeah, it could be. I will not speak for Rayisa Panasivna, but I know that Oksana Yakivna was there for sure.
V. Ovsiyenko: Her shoulder was wounded by this stone, though she tried to protect herself with pillows.
M. Marynovych: Yes. So, since then we were considered the group members. I do not think that the KGB did not spot us, but for a while nothing happened. But once the radio "Svoboda" read the Declaration of Establishment of Our Group, with signatures, with our names and addresses, then the very next day the situation changed.
I remember the morning of that day very well. I spent the night in the apartment of Tamila and Mykola. In the morning I got up to go to work (it happened when I still worked at Tekhnika Publishers). It took place in the fall, in November; about 08 am I came out on the street, it was still dark outside. I went out of the house and saw a car in front of me. The moment I stepped out of the door they switched on the headlights. I went towards this car because I had to go there, but this car began moving backwards dazzling me with headlights. So I was walking in radiant light around me. Clearly, this was a kind of psychological pressure. Afterwards, for about a month, wherever I went, someone followed hard on my heels. The same about Mykola. It was not a secret shadowing; on the contrary, it was meant to show that we were under control.
Of course, you may be upset when you are shadowed. But we were young and, as the Americans say, made fun of them. So, one evening Mykola and I had time and decided to amuse ourselves: we staged an escape from them, and then hid and watched how they rushed about. One of them with a walkie-talkie ran past us and we overheard him saying that they were seen running here somewhere. Well, we could hardly contain ourselves seeing that our amusement had caused such stir. (He laughs). I remember how we laughed at these multitudes involved in the search of two guys! And what a powerful machine operated! With walkie-talkies! With several cars! In a while, maybe in a month, they stopped this showy shadowing, and satisfied themselves with ordinary surveillance.
In general, it was very difficult to work in the group: you had to be overcautious with documents, because we understood that they could look over them. And I personally have a big problem: since childhood, since my youth I have a very poor memory for names, dates, faces; I may forget some facts… I can listen to a man and a week later I won’t remember it. Therefore it was very bad for me as a member of the Group not to be able to take notes.
However, we did what we could. In most cases, we used our young legs to go to places where the elder members could not go—neither Oksana Yakivna, nor Rudenko. So, for example, I went to Tarusa to Nina Strokata-Karavanska (where Kronid Liubarsky also served his term in exile) and Mykola went to Moscow and saw Yuri Orlov. Incidentally, on the way to Tarusa I was in Moscow at General Petro Hryhorenko’s home and felt happy to have an opportunity to meet him. Also, Mykola and I went together to Chernihiv to visit Levko Lukyanenko. Immediately after the arrest of Tykhyi I also went to his Village of Yizhivka, Donetsk Oblast, to his mother: I was in her khata, talked with her, and made inquiries. Such interesting trips there were.
What else can I tell? I may dwell upon my trip to Tarusa: it was rather typical. But I’ll speak in a roundabout way… I’ll disclose now some facts that have never been published. That is, many people knew what was happening, but this knowledge was never made public. It concerns a psychological atmosphere in the Group and so you have to decide for yourself, what to use and what not to use, and where to use also. You know what I mean.
The first euphoria as a result of creation of the Group passed quickly. It is clear that each of the members of the Group felt that s/he was shadowed and had some difficulties. Everyone understood that we were under close surveillance. So there was some nervousness: we all knew that sooner or later we would be arrested, but did not know when exactly. Such situation creates a special atmosphere, and we could not avoid what is called a spy fever. Sometimes you start thinking that people behave inadequately, and you immediately think that maybe they are planted. They may ask specific questions to worm out something? There were some people (as I later learned during interrogations), which may not have been specifically planted, but then they said what the KGB needed.
Of course, our contacts were fraught with danger. However, sometimes the response was inadequate. It happened to us. Once, when Mykola Danylovych was not arrested yet, he made a trip to Moscow, handed our regular documents, returned home and began to tell us something. And then once an idea flashed across my mind: we were all in God’s hands, at any moment they can arrest Mykola Danylovych, and if we would stay alone as members of the Group, we did not know where to go, whom to give documents, and how to proceed. I approached Rayisa Panasivna in the kitchen, I shared these thoughts with her and asked for advice: “I do not know how to ask: Mykola Danylovych has explosive temper at times…” And she said, “You know what the best way is? You write a letter. But do not send it by mail, just give me it, and I will give him. Even if he flares up, he will calm down anyway… I also sometimes if I want to convince him in something I also write him letters.”
Okay. I came home and got down to write a letter; then I showed it to Mykola. The main purpose of the letter was as follows: Mykola Danylovych, you may be arrested, and we are members of the group, so let’s think and decide whether we need to know something in this situation? I remember how I without caution used the words “the ins and outs of dissent”. I put quotation marks, of course, but all the same… Good Lord, what happened! Mykola Danylovych came to the quite simple conclusion: Yeah, these guys intentionally moved into our group, they hung around a little, and now they were ordered to uncover all secret addresses, and so on. When Mykola and I came back to him, he told us: “I suspect you. I will not cast you out of the group, but you are under suspicion. You should remember now that your every move will be monitored by us, we will forewarn people wherever you are going…” I told Rayisa Panasivna: “You yourselves advised me to do it.” But she looked so detached, “I haven’t got the faintest idea about it…” Mykola and I were shocked! We are doing something and do not know when we will be arrested and here we have a cold shower from our people! Already Oksana Yakivna started suspecting us, because it turned out that we didn’t go somewhere and didn’t tell somewhere something, and now you had a logic chain! You probably know the logic of spy fever: if someone is under suspicion, everything he does or says is seen from specific angle of view! In this way Mykola and I became victims of spy fever.
At this very moment I just had to go to Tarusa. I arrived there and called on Nina Strokata who together with Kronid Liubarsky was in exile in this town. They welcomed me, I sat down to table and began telling them something, and we started talking about something, and then finally someone of them let her or his hair down: “What’s the matter with all of you over there in Ukraine?” And they gave it to me straight: “We look attentively at you and you have normal reactions! You know that info from Rudenko forewarned us about arrival of Myroslav Marynovych and advised us to be careful because you might be a KGB agent.” I just held up my hands: “Believe it or not, but the situation is as it is”.
We had a very sincere and very good talk. They were completely honest with me. They gave me some materials. But they’d better not give them to me because I had hell to pay for them. The thing is that from Tarusa I went to Serpukhov, and at the Serpukhov station the militiamen come up to me and said they had witnesses who showed that I traded in gold things that was why they had to check it. Of course, I realized what it was: they wanted to search me under some pretext. They led me to the militia station and began hamming me up, began questioning why I came, what I intended to do and where I had been. I began sort of ridicule them, because I knew what they meant. I started a discussion about Holodomor, and they were outraged saying that supplies were requisitioned from the peasants, but given clothes in return… And I said: “Well, how delicious it would be to eat the clothes, when they requisitioned your foodstuffs!” In this way we conducted our ideological debates.
They searched my bag. There was something: either a book or a notebook: “Oh, yes, here is something anti-Soviet! We have to invite the representatives of the KGB.” We waited another hour for him to appear. He began to examine: “Yes, this is serious, this is very serious. We must search you now. Take off your clothes, please.” I said that I wouldn’t do it and, if they really need they would strip me themselves. They wrangled about it with me for a long time trying to persuade me. Finally, I became weary of it and said, “A whole bunch of blokes can’t search a guy? It’s high time for me to go back to Moscow.” Then they angrily stripped off my clothes, and of course, found the hidden paper there. Incidentally, there was nothing very dangerous either for Nina, or for me, but I was discontented because now I had to prove what happened: were these papers stolen or stolen, or I myself brought them in the proper quarter. It was frustrating… Then this episode was brought up at my trial; and for the very reason that they searched me and found documents in Serpukhov, I was not only charged under Ukrainian article 62, but also under Russian article 70. So my sentence included two articles.
I want to tell you about another moment related to the atmosphere in the Group. Mykola and I arrived in Lviv having decided to escape for a while from Kyiv, where, because of these suspicions, the atmosphere was very difficult for us. Of course, we came to Athena Pashko who we loved and love very much. And she said, “Guys, I’m afraid, something’s wrong in your Group. Things look black. Horyn told me that there was a rumor spread from Kyiv by Mykola Rudenko that Mykola and Myroslav were spies. Horyn does not know you, but I swore on my honor that it was not true, because I knew you very well.” She contacted Horyn; we agreed to meet and review the situation (I mean Mykhailo Horyn).
He laid down conditions and we met where we couldn’t be overheard. The man-to-man talk followed. He confirmed that there was such info from Kyiv, and we explained him how it happened, why and how we fell under suspicion. He gave it a thought, and then he began advising us something and, in general, expressed regret because of confusion in the Group. But nothing could be done…
Then I was afraid to talk with Rayisa Panasivna, Oksana Yakivna and Rudenko, as I saw in their eyes how they responded: I was saying something normal and they were smiling in a derisive way, it was a szydercza, as the Poles say, or scoffing smile: you keep talking and I can put that and that together! It happened once, then the second and third time, and at last Mykola and I said, “Enough. We do not quit from the group because we do not want to, but we can socialize with you no more.”
We went to Lukyanenko and told him about it. He then played a very positive role in my life: he believed us. And he put it very clearly: “Guys, are you ready to go to jail? Do you understand how it will end? Are you ready or not? If you are not ready, you better go out here and now: do not think it’s honey, and do not think it’s just a kind of fun.” I still remember his tone and I remember the emerging tension and I remember my answer. I really pondered over it and said very resolutely: “Yes, I’m ready.” I remembered very well those words later, during the investigation. I recalled them then. And it was very good that he asked me then: those words disciplined me, gave me some inner strength.
But, in any case, that time—the end of March and beginning of April 1977—was very disagreeable. We were and weren’t members of the Group at the same time. Mykola Danylovych crossed out our names under some documents which we had already agreed upon: he struck us out as agents. After the arrest of Rudenko we called on Rayisa Panasivna and asked her how she felt, but she suspected us all the same. Yosyp Terelia visited us and told that Oksana Yakivna exactly knew what we were the KGB men. Oles Berdnyk, who then actually became the head of the Group, never said directly that he suspected us. In any case, we stuck to him and in those documents that featured his signature and of which he was probably not the principal author our names remained as well.
Thus, at the time of the arrest, we were in the balance: we were both regular members of the Group, and were under suspicion of being agents of the KGB. But when we were already arrested and convicted, then soon in the camp I received a postcard from Oksana Yakivna. There was nothing expressed directly, but the wording of salutation and the written text gave me to believe that she sort of apologized that she had suspected us and that she would like to see that we would not remember the issue. Well, it was comforting that she understood. And when Mykola Danylovych appeared in my camp—for some time he was there with me—our relations with him grew normal (and later they were completely warm-hearted); he also realized that it was baloney. But usually he did not like very much to recognize his mistakes, and we touched this matter never more…
Why was I not very happy with his memoirs published recently? I wrote him a letter then saying that I expected that he as the head of the Group could put to paper deeper remembrances about its activities. It is obvious that he preserved in his memory a different picture. And I would not like to be the first to offer a dissimilar version. Nobody knows, of course, who will be the first of us to leave this world, but I do wish that he will be the first to write as the head of the Group about how it was in deed and not in name, and then I will be able either to confirm or deny his words.
V. Ovsiyenko: Didn’t the KGB play the card?
M. Marynovych: Right. I think it was their job! I’m more than sure. But I do not think that they are behind this, because they couldn’t foresee my writing a letter to Mykola Danylovych and that he could flare up to such extent. But the KGB used the situation and strengthened the suspicion in their own ways… They concocted all sorts of things. Well, for one, it was very funny as they played the “Jewish card” spreading rumors among people like: “Oh, you think this is a Ukrainian group? And who is there in that group?—Matusyevich, Marynovich…” It was very interesting, when their repartees returned to us in a roundabout way.
What else? Well, there were searches in the apartment, of course: in Mykola’s apartment and in mine.
V. Ovsiyenko: Even before the arrest?
M. Marynovych: Right, before the arrest. Here in Drohobych. I was then not in this apartment, where we are sitting with you now, but in my mother’s apartment, which was a kind of “transit station” (it was a small room in a house where people were relocated temporarily while their homes were overhauled). Mykola and I used to stay there when we came to Lviv to see Horyn.
I remember how that search was conducted: in a provincial and sloppy way. We arrived late after a concert. One neighbor dropped in and said something stupid to my mother that we only shrugged our shoulders: he talked through his hat. And just within two or three minutes a whole bunch of people barged into our apartment: “We will search the premises.” And they showed a sort of search warrant. The witnesses of the search had typical KGBists’ mugs! And I said, “Show your passports, please.” One of the witnesses retorted: “Watch your manners! What do you mean by showing passports?” I said, “You’d better watch your manners! You’re witnesses of the search and not a square peg in a round hole. Let’s see your passports. You are required to have your passports with you when you come here as witnesses of the search.” Those officials continued pretending that they just invited the witnesses from the street. "Well, go and bring your passports.” A man went and brought his passport. I do not know what a miracle, but there was a seal that he worked as a KGB officer! Not a simple employee or officer or a supplies manager, or something like that. I did not expect such a stroke of luck, you know! I just opened his passport, look at the stamp, turned to those official prosecutors, or who else they were and said: “What do you think? Whom do you make a witness? He is your fellow KGBist! You are supposed to know the under the law that the witness of the search cannot be an employee of the agency of immediate investigation.”
In short, I forbid outright to conduct the search and said that it was a violation of the law. Then they took Mykola and me to the militia station and frisked us there; as a result they couldn’t search my mother’s home and only just inquired where our personal things were and examined them; they couldn’t explore all our caches. They held us at the militia station for two or three hours and set free. So in Drohobych they also exerted such pressure. There were other episodes as well, but at this moment I cannot remember them. Let’s go on?
V. Ovsiyenko: Let’s go on. How were you arrested?
M. Marynovych: The arrest was quite an occasion… Recently in Holland I heard a definition of democracy: the democracy is the situation when someone knocks on your door and you think that this is your mail carrier. I liked it, because in my case it happened just like this only oppositely.
Mykola and I spent the night at Tamila’s apartment then. At half past six in the morning the doorbell rang. Tamila got up, went to the door and asked, “Who’s there?” We heard the answer: “The telegram.” She opened the door and about twenty strappers burst into the apartment: it was a tine one-roomed apartment! Of course, we set up a clamor: “What’s that? What telegram? What do you mean you’re doing?” But it was already clear: “Calm down! All’s Okay.”
We got up, dressed ourselves and made them wait until we have our breakfast. They showed a search warrant. We were taken away. I thought that this was an arrest; though, on the other hand, if it was a repetition of the previous arrest, then maybe this was nothing but another warning.
They brought us to Rosa Luxemburg Street and made to wait for a long time, about an hour. Then they led us to an office and left there, as was their habit. Then came the investigator and showed me a piece of paper: “Read, acquaint yourself with it.” I remember my first thought as I was reading the prosecutor’s warrant of arrest: “So, it has happened. That’s the way it looks.” My second thought was about my mother and family.
The first interrogation began. Then they transferred me to the KGB prison on the Volodymyrska Street.
V. Ovsiyenko: Do you remember the procedure of a very thorough search in the prison?
M. Marynovych: Yes, of course. And the procedure of bending: this happened for the first time in my life. Such examination was certainly not very pleasant, but nothing could be done: I knew where I was.
V. Ovsiyenko: The situation was already determined.
M. Marynovych: Right, determined is the word. And I would even say that I felt the sense not of relief, which wasn’t an appropriate word, but the end of uncertainty. The period came to an end when I getting up in the morning and made guesses about my arrest either today or tomorrow. I’d been arrested, cut and dried! All fell into place now. At last I could think about my future in a camp.
During interrogations, I chose the following manner of behavior: I acted on the premise that we were not an underground Group; we officially stated in our documents that do not oppose the Soviet power as such, but against human rights violations by the administration, by the government. Therefore I thought it unnecessary to play the underground card; that is I would not tell anything. Actually, why I cannot I tell things that fit in this stream? I explained them that we were a legal public group, which announced its support for the Helsinki Decisions signed by Brezhnev; we had submitted a Declaration of our intentions and we did our best to implement these intentions. Is public initiative that bad? That’s all. However, I restricted myself knowing that others were entitled to a different course of action, and I had no right to interfere with them. So at the outset I told my investigator that I would speak only about myself and I would not sign any evidence which would read what I and someone else did this and that. I did and that’s that and I wouldn’t say anything about others persons. And I adhered to this line of conduct quite carefully.
What else to say? They talked with me very carefully: there was no physical violence, no rudeness.
V. Ovsiyenko: And who conducted the investigation?
M. Marynovych: Olexandr Fedorovych Bereza. (By the way, he goes on working there now. Anyway, when I visited him in 1988, he was still at work.) This is due to the fact that they continuously wanted to prove that our documents, which we wrote about violations of someone’s rights, were untrue: "You see, no one scoffs at you; therefore everything you write is libel.” In that sense, I was lucky, if we compare my fate with… Oh Lord, it has completely slipped from my mind… Who died as a result of terrible tortures about the time? A very characteristic name… He was a Kyivite… Snehiriov, Heliy Snehiriov… He was terribly tortured. God has spared me: during the investigation they didn’t torture me physically.
V. Ovsiyenko: Didn’t you undergo psychiatric examination?
M. Marynovych: I do not recall such one; no, there was no psychiatric examination.
V. Ovsiyenko: They subjected practically everybody to psychiatric examination.
M. Marynovych: Right, as a rule yes, but not me. There was a time when I declared a hunger strike, but not because of their scoffing me, but after that I in my cell heard a cry from the hallway: “Myroslav, they are beating me!" It was Mykola’s voice. I immediately began hammering the door. The jailer felt at a loss: “Calm down, calm down!” I immediately went on a hunger strike. The prosecutor came and asked me: “And how long will you maintain the hunger strike?”—“I have announced a protest, but I do not intend to commit suicide. I will not be on a hunger strike indefinitely, but for three days only.” Then a word escaped him: “Well, it’s as if they are in collusion.” Then I realized that Mykola had also gone on a three-day hunger strike. It was the only occasion during the investigation when I resorted to this form of protest. But in general they didn’t scoff me.
I was satisfied with my behavior because I was myself. Usually I am not disposed to assaultive acts. As a rule, our conversations with the investigator were rather calm. I showed the KGB officers that I could freely chat with them; I could talk and even joke. But they could not get the better of me at that. You see, my softness made them to believe that a little bit longer along this line I would spill the beans. But all their persuasions like “So you think, think a little bit…”, their hope that they would press a little and I would start talking was nothing but an illusion indeed. The inquiry came to an end, everything was over and during the trial I did not ask for pardon, and as a result they gave me as much as they gave Mykola.
There was a very interesting point during the investigation in September 1977. The Belgrade Conference had just begun. My investigator Olexandr Bereza said: “We are suspending interrogations for a while, and in general I feel that maybe you would not be condemned.” Or maybe it was not Bereza but Berezovsky, Mykola’s investigator.
V. Ovsiyenko: Maybe Leonid Berestovskyi? This one started my case in 1973. Or was it Berezovsky?
M. Marynovych: Nay, I’m sure it was Berezovsky. I remembered because the names were similar: Bereza and Berezovsky, so it was easy to remember. This was Mykola Matusevych’s investigator; he occasionally came to me for questioning. In any case, one of them told me that maybe I’d not be condemned, because such processes took place at the time… But it was clear what he meant: I knew from the newspapers that the Belgrade Conference began.
Indeed, all the while, a few months before the Catholic Christmas, there was no questioning: I was just staying in my cell. The questioning resumed on January 5 when the conference ended. I understood that during the conference nobody really defended us; only the U.S. delegation was active in this respect there, and the rest played the Soviet regime at “Realpolitik”. The questioning resumed, and very soon the line was drawn. In March 1978 the trial was held.
What can I say about the Trial? It was very comical… Yeah, there was another interesting fact during the investigation, about which I did not tell anyone yet: with Olexandr Bereza. I was already familiarizing myself with my file. You know how it looks: they give you one by one volumes of your case, you thumb through it, and the investigator sits nearby and reads something. And then I turned the page and see a card, a bookmark. I opened the card and read a sort of work plan “To organize and showing M.M. and M.M. films about struggle with nationalism” and so on. And then followed the phrase that I remembered well before, but which now I do not remember well; in other words, it was about stoolies planted in our cells intended to try and worm secrets out of cell insiders. I sat happy with such finding and thought what to do with it. I was well aware that I couldn’t take the card away with me because they usually frisked me when I entered or quitted the cell. I understand that I wasn’t a talented spy and couldn’t hide a piece of paper safe enough so that they wouldn’t be able to find it on me. But I might have pleasure when I would show this man, who played around with me, that his game was exposed… I took the card, got up, went over to the investigator and said: “Olexandr Fedorovych, I’ve come across an interesting paper here and I think you will be interested to read it. I have already got pleasure from reading it.” I laid it down on the table before him. If you’d seen his reaction! I still believe that I did a good job giving him the card. You cannot imagine how he blushed! He turned deep purple; he could not cast up his eyes! After all it was written with his hand… He hid it quietly and said nothing.
It was my spiritual victory. In any case, at this moment he felt himself morally destroyed, because he pretended to be playing with me very clean and moral games!
Now for the trial. The trial was held I Vasylkiv, not in Kyiv. In the beginning there were two remarkable moments. First, I saw the hall packed with KGB officers and students of law department. But no familiar faces!
V. Ovsiyenko: Were there no relatives as well?
M. Marynovych: There were no relatives as well. I was tried for the first time and had no idea of the procedure. They escorted me, I sat down, and then they brought Mykola Matusevych. They used force to lead him into the courtroom, because he did not want to go. I did not really like the way he looked: he had a very long hair. It seemed he didn’t have his hair cut during the investigation. I thought: why this form of protest? But, in the end, it was something personal…
He was forced to sit down and he said: “I refuse to participate in this farce!” And I knew from the start that we had chosen different behavior patterns. Mykola’s role was over very quickly, because he began to insist that they should take him out. Judge Dyshel—very eloquent name which was known among human rights activists and dissidents!—insisted that he had to stay in the courtroom. At some point of high words Mykola asked what he had to do to be led out of the courtroom. You can be escorted out of courtroom only if you go on insulting the court.” Mykola laughed and said, “Well, will do.” And he started saying such things that the judge lost patience and ordered to remove him from the courtroom. So he was absent up to the end of the trial. But Mykola did not know what model of behavior I adhered to, and perhaps he was afraid that my softness might let me down. When they led him out of the courtroom, he cried me, “Myroslav, do not abase yourself!” He thought that I stooped to beg for something. But I knew what I was doing.
I defended myself in court: I waived a counsel. One lawyer, whom they offered me, came so pale and so scared… He was so happy when I waived a counsel: he thanked me warmly, packed up his things, and went out. So I was able to talk a little bit during the trial.
The first day I took part in the trial, but the next day when I saw that there were no my relatives in the courtroom again, I became alarmed. Especially since that day Nadiya Svitlychna testified as a witness, and she addressed the court with a protest demanding to admit people who were freezing on the doorstep and wanted to enter the courtroom but couldn’t. The judge started explaining something that the room is full, but I’d got the information already. I stood up and announced that due to the fact that it was the hearing in private, I wouldn’t take part in it. That’s all. Although after that I was present in the room, but after each judge’s address to me I stood up and repeated the same phrase: “Due to the fact that it is the hearing in camera and people are not allowed here, I refuse to participate in this hearing.”
After this the events unfolded as follows. Of course, the friends were not let pass into the courtroom, but the next day my relatives appeared−my sister and my mother. Later they told me how they were admitted, and they can tell it to you as well. That is my mother can tell it in more details. They called from Kyiv here, Drohobych, saying: your son and brother are under trial now, you get ready and we will give you a lift to the train and you’ll go. Everything was done very quickly, so that by the next morning they were in the courtroom. And as I continued to refuse to answer questions, they expressed their indignation: “Why do you refuse? Look, there are also your relatives.” I said: “Yes, these two people are my relatives, but why you do not allow other persons in as well? They are standing at the door and cannot enter.” And so up to the end I did not participate in the hearing.
While I still participated, there was a funny moment that I would never forget. Once I wanted to refer to the words of Lenin: they were very appropriate, because they justified my actions. I began: “Even Lenin himself said…” And then Dyshlo, realizing that I was going to use Lenin’s words against him, interrupted me with emotion: “Stop using the name of Lenin immediately! In your mouth it sounds like blasphemy!”
The witnesses spoke, and it was very interesting. Four people who spoke one after one were important for me, and morally it was a relief to me. This was Oles Berdnyk who held his own at the time. His majestic figure… His voice thundered—not Dyshlo’s voice, but Berdnyk’s voice; he was the chief accuser there—and it was good.
Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska was examined as a witness. The prosecutor and Dyshel wanted to drive her into a blind alley. They had materials obtained as a result of searches: in Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska’s apartment they found our Declaration in a boot, but they wanted also to humiliate her. And they kept asking her where she had hidden this document? I do not remember exactly the wording, but she said something about the ceiling cabinet. “Where exactly in the ceiling cabinet?” The woman refused to explain the details. Then they quoted the search act: in the heaped-up ceiling cabinet, in a dirty boot of a certain color of a such and such degree of wear, stuffed inside the top of the boot… etc. I saw how Mykhailyna felt vexed, full of feminine fury. When they finished reading the act, the judge again began pestering her: “You maintain that there is nothing criminal in it, then why did you hide it in a boot?” Then she straightened and said, “Right, I see that I made a mistake: I had to frame that document and hang it in the most conspicuous place in my room.” At this point they turned green: she said it very expressively and bravely.
Vira Lisova also spoke as a witness. She did not want to harm a cause, but did not know how to behave. She did not know that I acknowledged the authenticity of my signature under each instrument and acknowledged that I collected this information. Vira began playing for time and delaying her answer… And then I helped her a little; understanding the situation, I cried out from my place: “Go ahead and tell how it was!” She saw that I was not afraid, that it was all the same for me, whether she told the truth or not. But she spoke boldly and recounted everything nicely. She was really good. I was very grateful to her. And Nadiya Svitlychna, whom I have mentioned, too. Those four people were very important for me in court. No, Yevhen Obertas and Nina also made right speeches (I think they both were examined as witnesses). I remember they threatened Yevhen after his answers in court that he might be punished for his behavior. So there were not four but six people.
Such was this hearing of my case… I had no illusions about the sentence; I feared instead that my term might be lesser than Mykola’s. We resorted to different modes of behavior. If I were given a shorter term, I would have never been able to prove that I had not betrayed and had not tried to beg them for the shorter term. First off they gave him “seven and five” and then they gave me the same. Thank God! The same sentence.
They brought him for the pronouncement of the sentence. I think when Mykola heard that we had the same sentence, he realized that I had not begged for anything.
That’s all. After that we had to wait for confirmation. It isn’t interesting.
V. Ovsiyenko: Did you appeal for cassation?
M. Marynovych: Frankly speaking I do not remember.
V. Ovsiyenko: It can be established by how soon you were taken to the camp.
M. Marynovych: Somewhere in just a couple of days.
V. Ovsiyenko: So, you did not appeal.
M. Marynovych: I think I did not appeal. I remember that I even forbade my mother to appeal. My mother certainly remembers that I forbade her to write all sorts of appeals.
So they drove me away. Transportation of convicts… Perhaps, it is not interesting to recount.
V. Ovsiyenko: How long did transportation take?
M. Marynovych: It took a month, about a month. They transported me via the transit prisons in Kharkiv, Syzran, Kazan, and Perm. There were all sorts of adventures; they even used to put me to the same cell with criminals, allegedly by mistake. But that’s another pair of shoes…
So, my trial was held from 22 to 30 March 1978 and already in early April I was on the road. They brought me to the camp no. 36 in Kutchino in which I, in fact, I did the whole term. I was not in the 35th or the 37th, so we can assume that the 36th camp was mine. I served in this camp from May 1978 to April or end of March 1984: seven years together with the investigation.
Whom I met there? During this period there were at different times Yevhen Sverstiuk, Yevhen Proniuk, Mykola Rudenko, Zynoviy Krasivsky, Henrikh Altunian, Valeriy Marchenko, Semen Hluzman, Anatoly Zdoroyi from Kharkiv, son of Oksana Yakivna Oles Serhiyenko, Olexandr Zahirniak, Mykhailo Monakov (now Hliadchenko), teacher of mathematics from Pishchany Brod, Kirovohrad Oblast, Petro Pavlovych Chorny… Oh Lord, there were so many of them and I never tried to make an exhaustive list… Among the older convicts there were Pavlo Strotsen, I have great respect for him, Onufriy Kulak. From the Crimea, there was this guy, Olexiy Safronov. In the camps I came to know a number of dissidents from Russia: Victor Niekipyelov, Sergei Kovalev, Alexei Smirnov and Alexander Ogorodnikov from Moscow; there were also such as Communist-Leninist Grigory Isayev from Kuibyshev… And also Antanas Terlyatskas and Father Alfonsas Svarinskas from Lithuania, Yuri Karlovich Bumeyster from Riga, Armenians Ishkhan Mkrtchyan and Norayr Grigoryan, Georgian Vazha Zhgenti, then from Estonia there was so tall… I do not remember his name... Sorry… so many years, now I do not remember… perhaps some other time…
V. Ovsiyenko: No biggie.
M. Marynovych: Oh, wait, I’ve remembered Victor Niytsoo. There were also Oles Shevchenko, Ukrainian, Vladimir Balakhonov, Russian… well, maybe I will remember someone else a bit later in our conversation. I’ll try to remember some vivid moments. And first of all about confrontations with the administration.
It started in the early days of my stay there. I actively joined the camp life, camp confrontation, various protests, and hunger strikes; almost daily I wrote appeals to prosecutors. The inmates greeted me very favorably and happily; in fact, I was the first member of the Helsinki Group in the camp. The inmates already knew about the existence of such groups and the arrests of their members. My status as the defender of these prisoners was very high, and I did not want to belittle it with my behavior. So I from the outset joined the struggle for what I was at once punished accordingly.
What were the forms of opposition? They included regular hunger strikes on the Day of Political Prisoner or hunger strikes devoted to some other dates or events, say, the Red Terror Day on September 5…
V. Ovsiyenko: Human Rights Day on December 10…
M. Marynovych: Right, and the Day of Ukrainian Political Prisoner on January 12, the Day of Soviet Political Prisoner on October 30. In addition, almost immediately after arriving in the camp I went on a hunger strike for the right to have the Bible. This my first hunger strike lasted maybe 18 or 20 days (they periodically forcibly fed me with sparse gruel through a plastic tube inserted into my stomach through mouth), and then I stopped the strike achieving nothing with it.
I remember a very long and difficult period: not at the beginning, a bit later, somewhere around 1980. Oles Shevchenko had a pain in his hand. As far as I remember he went to work, but could not start to work. Arguing that he had a pain in his hand, he wore pea jacket when we were not allowed to wear it. They warned him once, then for a second time warned, and then they forcibly removed from him his pea jacket. He then came running to us terribly upset; he said they injured his hand again, or even dislocated it. All expressed their indignation and of course I was in that number too. We stopped working in solidarity with Oles Shevchenko. But I remember that this was the only time in my camp life when I had no inner certainty that I was 100-percent right in this conflict situation. I recall my feelings very well: I then thought that Oles was wrong and that he deliberately walked into a conflict that I did not like. I hate such ambiguous situations. But once I went for it, I went, yeah. It was a time when the camp administration finally got the prosecutor’s explanation that there was no limit to keep a convict in a punishment cell. And we still did not know and thought that you can be kept in a punishment cell for not more than 60 consecutive days. So we served 15 days four times each time refusing to work. Then, after those 60 days, for our refusing to go to work they again announced the next 15 days. We protested demanding the prosecuting attorney to come! More than 60 days! And they said, forget it! They had the recent explanations of the prosecutor: they could keep us in the investigatory isolation ward indefinitely, without time limits.
It was a very important point for me: I cracked inside. It was the only time in the camp when I was weak and all because I did not have the certainty that I take the 100-percent correct stand. So when my next term in the investigatory isolation ward expired, we bawled about this latrine wireless and I concluded: please, believe me that I do not crack permanently but right now I cannot stand it to the end and I’ll get down to work.
It is interesting how the camp administration responded. Fiodorov came in person (the chief security officer, then Major). Perhaps they heard about our negotiations—I was always ready for the fact that they overheard our conversations—and suggested to get down to work. Everybody refused, but I agreed. No, apparently I happened to be the first to be suggested. Knowing that I was weak and could not go on with the riot, they wanted to finish off with me. They led me into the yard of the isolation ward near the windows of the investigatory isolation ward. But the yard of the isolation ward is the no-go area all the same, where the prisoner should not go voluntarily. They led me to work there: “Do you see yonder the coils of barbed wire? Carry this wire from here to there.” The situation was conspired to ensure that I had to violate all rules of conduct of political prisoner in the camp: I stopped the hunger strike before the others did it, I stepped into the no-go area and touched the barbed wire. That is, all three rules.
I understood very well why they did it, and I suffered greatly then because I could not oppose them. But I was thinking as follows: “Oh just wait and see: you haven’t crushed me yet.” You know, I carried that barbed wire as a crown of thorns; I ached all over, but I carried all the same overcoming pain. While I worked carrying the wire (the guys told me afterwards), they called inmates one by one to look at Marynovych and manipulated them to both humiliate me in the eyes of my friends and make them to get down to work…
But just a week later I regained my mental strength. Fiodorov came to talk with me cheek by jowl, looked fixedly at me in order to understand what happened. But in fact nothing special happened: I continued to protest and participate in hunger strikes. It was a moment of weakness, and I tell about such things at evenings, meetings or in articles so that people would not think that people are always equally strong: failures and degradation can occur at times, but a person must tell her/himself that this is not forever, for a few days only and that’s that, and then you will again be strong and go up again. This was really a difficult time in my life.
By the way, I want to say that Oles Shevchenko behaved with dignity during all his term of confinement. I remember a moment of extreme difficulty in his life. He knew that his wife was ill. He received letters from her and then they stopped coming. After a while a KGB officer arrived from Ukraine and told him: "Your wife is terminally ill, she may not write to you and you have to think about your children. Write now a statement of repentance, stop your confrontation with the KGB, and we will let you go: you have to save your children.” I remember how Oles suffered while deciding what is to be done. He truly believed that his wife was at the death door because he knew that she was very ill. He had no idea that it’s just a KGB trick: they simply stopped letting through the letters from his wife. In short, it was a decisive step for Oles, but he flatly and very firmly said “no”. He behaved with dignity and quite courageously. I admire him greatly for that step, though now I do not always like his political decisions. But I remember that moment as one of the greatest examples of the behavior of prisoners.
What else can I tell about the past times spent in the camp? I recall how we went on strike when Victor Niekipielov developed a disease. They refused to treat him… well, not just refused because he was hospitalized. But they played for time and didn’t initiate treatment immediately, and his condition continuously deteriorated. The whole zone went on strike (except, of course, camp informers and those who did their terms for “war crimes”). I remember how the doctor behaved in this situation. We had a young doctor (I remember the family name of the older doctor−Petrov, but I cannot recollect the family name of the younger doctor, which also ended on “-ov”) who was a hideous creature. A young knucklehead, as they say. Victor Niekipielov had been already hospitalized in the camp, and, when I came to visit him, I gave him a cross which I wore on my neck. He put it on himself with a great and good feeling. It was a sort of unofficial baptism anew. And then this young doctor came to examine him and, the way Victor Niekipielov told me later, the doctor got a fright, waved his hands and said: “No, no, I refuse to treat you! Let Him cure you! And he pointed to the cross. That is let Christ heal you; once you put on the cross, you reject my treatment. Amazing! The whole zone was outraged with this doctor.
Since we are talking about doctors, I remembered another interesting moment related to Petrov, the older doctor. in our camp there was Yoseph Mendelevich, a Jew and refusenik… Specifically, he had been convicted as a participant of the Dymshits–Kuznetsov hijacking affair… I do not remember his article for sure. And so it was, because he seemed to be from Riga. (It is correct information: in 1970 Mendelevich participated in hijacking attempt. in 1981 he was released as a result of exchange of five political prisoners for two Soviet spies convicted in the U.S. for 30 years. Mendelevich wrote a book of memoirs Operation “Wedding”.—V.O.). One day he was taken to be transported under guard. We had no idea where they took him. After a while our youngest Jew from Petersburg (I forgot his name... Dan was his Jewish name and his passport name I do not remember) was reading Izvestia Daily and suddenly began screaming for the entire camp to hear. He gathered all of us and showed: “Yoseph Mendelevich attended the reception given by Reagan”. And the appropriate comment of Izvestia: Reagan played host to the “criminal offender”. Well, the whole camp bloomed and rejoiced: “Thank God!” This guy, Dan, later saw doctor Petrov and retold him: so and so, Mendelevich is already in America, he even attended the reception given by Reagan. The response of Petrov was amazing. He froze for a moment and then, as if to himself, said: “Well, I sort of did him no harm”. These his words became a point at issue in the zone. If he had a second thought, he would have guessed that this reveals a very characteristic feature of their mentality. That is he remembers his sins, and his first reaction is fear that they will be revealed. Therefore he began nervously recollecting his relations with that convict…
I have remembered for life one outstanding moment in the history of persecutions: it was a wonderful 15-day term with interesting people in the isolation ward. Another Easter came. At the time there occurred a great tension in the relations between the administration and the prisoners; nevertheless we, of course, planned to meet together, to pray and eat our breakfast. And the day before we were warned to evade get-togethers, otherwise we would be punished. Nevertheless we got together and celebrated Easter. Many participants were put in the isolation ward then. Three organizers of the event—Rudenko Niekipielov and I—were sentence to 15 days, and the rest for a few days without appearance at work. And it was cool because we were three together in the cell: two poets and I. These were 15 wonderful days of reading poetry (although Rudenko does not know his poems by heart, only Niekipielov read his poems) and interesting conversations covering various political and artistic topics.
And during our stay in this isolation ward they both said to me: “Why do you not write yourself? Well, how long will you go on writing appeals to prosecutors; you’d better begin to create something.” I answered as follows: “Well, it never struck me before that I could have the courage to create”. They began to encourage me. And I began to think about whether or not I would actually start writing. I went on playing with the idea when I got out of the isolation ward. And the first thing I thought up was the title: Gospel after the Holy Fool. This title set the tone. You obviously may have read it.
V. Ovsiyenko: Yes, I know this work.
M. Marynovych: The title set the rhythm of the language and everything else. At the time I worked assembling circuit boards for electric irons. MY head was free: my hands worked automatically, and I went thinking, thinking, and thinking all the time. When I was sure that the phrase was sufficiently refined, I used to go to the living zone, jot it on a piece of paper and hide in the cracks, which were safe hiding places indeed. In such a way, I composed my work sentence by sentence, and to make the process still safer I memorized the whole text.
I recall the day when I finally decided to reread everything from the beginning to the very end. Well, sorry, there was another impetus for writing Gospel after the Holy Fool. The first stimulus was, as I said, my stay in the isolation ward and my talks with Rudenko and Niekipielov. The second stimulus was when Oles Shevchenko wrote a poem and called us to read it. It was actually a description of that situation when he was in Kyiv, before the arrest, and called for ambulance because his mother had a heart attack. He was calling in a terrible despair and the answer was: “Can you speak Russian?” And they did not want to send ambulance until he said it in Russian. The situation was indeed extremely complex and nightmarish. That poem was full unspeakable hatred for Russia. I even recall that its title was “The Great Bitch”: this was a very critical moment. When he read it he paled in anger. I felt that there was something wrong with it. Taking his side in the assessment of the situation, however, I could not accept such hatred towards anyone. And this was the second incentive to write something that would be the antithesis of this hatred. Thence the title and the work itself.
I called all of our trusted people: there were, as far as I remember, Rudenko, Oles Shevchenko, Henrikh Altunian, Victor Niekipielov, and someone else. We went behind the barrack and I began to read from memory. I recall their reaction: they were dumbfounded. Rudenko was generally enthusiastic, saying that I had to write, it would be must read for all generations of Ukrainians. Of course, it was his first impression; I mean, it was just pathos of discovery. Critical for me was the reaction of Oles Shevchenko. He told me this: “Such work makes you kinder”. Others also praised. So this was my first attempt at writing; in fact, this literary debut was my only significant achievement at the time.
The story of how I passed it from the camp to the West was described in great detail in Rudenko’s book of memories: down at the end there, in the Appendix. Have you read it?
V. Ovsiyenko: Yes. (Mykola Rudenko included the article of M. Marynovych “The Second Birth” into his book: Life: the greatest miracle. Memoirs. Kyiv—Edmonton—Toronto: Tucson, 1998. P. 539-540).
M. Marynovych: There were also other typical events in the camp life. There was a time when I set out to go to jail and fought for it. By that time they had already transferred from the camp to prison Niekipielov and Henrikh Altunian. Somehow, I felt sad: they took away my best friends. I was also prepared to follow them and go to jail. And then just the opportunity turned up: I ran high temperature and I did not go to work. They sent me to the sanitary department, which opined that I could work. But I did not go to work all the same, and then they punished me somehow (I do not recall but it seems they put me into the isolation ward for three days). Even though I told them before that: “Before you do something like that, think what you’re frying. Because if you put me into the isolation ward, then I declare that I go to jail, I’ll give up working.” Nevertheless they did put me into the isolation ward, and I said that I refused to work. And they said, “No, we do not want to send you to jail.” And quite a long confrontation started: first I spent many days in the isolation ward and then in the cell-like room. And my physical condition seriously deteriorated: I remember that I already had tumor and certain physiological functions were affected.
And then I decided that there was something wrong with my inclination for the jail: God knows what was in my head then. In short, I gave up this long-standing conflict (it lasted for seven or eight months), returned to the zone and quit seeking jail. Basically, I did not regret what took place.
I do not remember for sure now in what year—in 1980 or in 1981— Zynoviy Krasivsky arrived in the camp. (Z. Krasivsky was again arrested in Morshyn on 12.03.1980 and sent to serve the rest of his term according to the sentence pronounced in 1967: 8 months and 7 days in a camp and 5 years in exile. He did his term in the maximum security penal colony VS-389/36 in the Village of Kuchino, Chusovskoy Region, Perm Oblast. In November 1980 he was transported under guard into exile in the Village of Lugovoi, Tyumen Oblast.—V.O.). And it was he who completely, radically changed the system of my behavior in the camp. I remember very well that turning moment for me (and I always and everywhere tell about it). When he arrived, I saw that he behaved in a strange way: calmly, normally, even joyfully talked with Surovtsev, our KGB officer. With the administration Zynoviy behaved naturally as if he were at home. Until then I knew that the political prisoner must look with disdain on the KGB officers, with every expression of his face to show that they were disgusting, and so on, but there was something that failed to fit in. It would be funny to suspect him of cheating because it was his third time in jail. And Zynoviy himself… You just look at him and understand that there was no insincerity or duplicity in him.
Once I could not contain myself and simply asked, “Mr. Zynoviy, are you not afraid to be interpreted in a wrong way? People might prejudice your behavior.” He looked at me like at a stupid boy (maybe I am a bit exaggerating now) and said: “Do you not trust yourself?” And that’s all, and this one sentence radically changed my behavior in the camp. I was just dumbfounded… And really: do I play the role of a political prisoner or I am a political prisoner? Who do I want to show that I am, so to speak, a fighter? That is there exists contradiction though not in Mr. Zynoviy’s behavior but in mine! I was so impressed that I decided to actually revise my behavior and see what was mine and what was not mine, what I did for someone else and what I did for myself. And I stopped my showboating when dealing with the KGB officers (“I won’t talk with you, get away from me”), and normal conversations started. And I found that during such normal conversations I could tell them more negative information that would hurt them than in the case of my showboating. I found that I could even with a greater sense of dignity say things that I had not been able to say until now: I denied myself the latent opportunities.
The second half of my stay in the camp was full of search for my own face. I continued taking part in hunger strikes, other sorts of strikes, that is on the outside nothing changed, but it was done in a different psychological way now. I was very grateful Zynoviy, because he showed in a simple way that you had to be yourself and not to glance back at someone when opting for a decision; first of all it is necessary to follow the dictates of your conscience. So, this occurrence with Zynoviy was a very important moment in my life.
Speaking about other prisoners, which were in the 36th camp, I should recall apart Yevhen Sverstiuk. I saw him somewhere in the beginning of my term: I mean in 1978. Early In 1979 his term was over, and he was transferred into exile. So we stayed together somewhere, maybe, six months or a little more. Best of all I remember the following moment in our socializing. There was some conflict situation in the camp, and we were unable to get out of it, find a way out of the wrong situation. The camp was divided into two conflicting parties. Once I was walking with Sverstiuk, when we were approached by Olexiy Safronov, a Crimean, who started talking with Sverstiuk about this conflict. Safronov asked him: “And what is the possible way out of this situation?” And Mr. Yevhen replied very simply, calmly and laconically that the way out of the situation should be based on the Gospel. I remember the reaction of the young Crimean guy: Olexiy was absolutely shocked, his jaw dropped: for him, who was possessed by all sorts of passions, the word “gospel” meant next to nothing, and they had to solve the simple, ordinary, earthly things based on some unknown Gospel! I was also shocked with the simplicity and the importance of Mr. Yevhen’s formula; I was impressed by the very idea that a specific earthly situation could be tackled with a transcendental instrument. It was as if a light shone through the clouds, and I saw something very important.
It is worthwhile I started talking about it, because at the same time I recalled another thing. It was already near the end of my camp term… I was on my way into exile already. In Perm they put me in a transit prison. I found myself in a cell with Olexiy Tykhyi. (In the Perm prison Olexa Tykhyi was from March 7, 1984 to his death on May 5.—V.O.). My recollections about him I included into my book, therefore, maybe, I won’t dwell upon it now. (The last mile you cover without escort. Memoirs about Olexa Tykhyi / / Myroslav Marynovych. Ukraine: postils in the Bible.—Drohobych: Vidrodzhennia, 1991.—P. 48-49).
V. Ovsiyenko: Right, yet you can still say a couple of words here.
M. Marynovych: Well, I will tell just a few words. I worried very much before meeting with him because my searches for application of gospel principles in my life made progress, I was preoccupied with it and I was wondering how this uncompromising fighter would treat me. How would he react to my thoughts, my position? And I did not want to lie; I did not want to make a different image of myself… He was a bed patient already, he barely walked, and he was taken to the hospital for surgery. Only his eyes were shining there. I remember that we started talking. I’ve completely forgotten the topic of our conversation: we kept talking for three days, but I cannot recollect anything. I remember only my impression that our messages were not discrepant; there was such a wonderful harmony of our vision of the world, people and human relations! Yes, he was a fighter, but not the one who fights for the sake of fighting with a sense of inner aggression, nothing of the sort. I was under impression that in front of me there was the embodied spirit: nothing remained but big expressive eyes and in these eyes I saw amazing love and evangelic emotion! I still remember that experience. It was very painful for me, when they ordered: “Tykhyi, come out with your belongings!” And he went to the operating room. I felt terrible void for a long time when they took him away: I wanted to continue our conversation with him! It was also very important meeting in my life…
Maybe we stop recollecting my camp life for a while? I’ll send Liuba in and she will tell you some stories, too.
V. Ovsiyenko: OK.
February 2, 2000; we continue our conversation with Mr. Myroslav Marynovych.
M. Marynovych: I still would like to tell about the preparation of “Chronicle” (“Chronicle of Current Events.”—V.O.) in the camp. I was involved as well as other people… You see, instinctively I am still afraid to name other people.
V. Ovsiyenko: Well, for example, Semen Hluzman has long named Zinoviy Antoniuk and Mykola Horbal.
M. Marynovych: In my time, when I was there, there were also Yevhen Sverstiuk and Yevhen Proniuk… Well, Slava Hluzman, too, but I stayed with him for a short time only… Also Sergei Kovalev, Victor Niekipielov; even such guys like Alexei Safronov were involved in it. Many people were writing in a small hand then.
I’ve just remembered one interesting fact: maybe interesting not so much for the history, but because it renders the atmosphere adequately. We had a she-cat Mary in the camp, which excellently sat on the lookout…
V. Ovsiyenko: She was a sentry for you.
M. Marynovych: Right, a watcher. The cat lived in our “Leninist Room”. I do not know by what magic it worked out, but the moment the night watch quit the guardroom our cat immediately began to get nervous. In addition, the cat was completely quite; it used to curl itself up into a ball and lay dormant, but once it got nervous: beware, the cop is on the path. And we began hiding our writings. It was kind of an amazing scene; it helped us very well because we were able to control… Then this cat disappeared: I’ve got no idea whether someone sold it, or something else, but it was gone.
We wrote quite a lot, not only the “Chronicle of Events”, but a variety of texts: appeals, petitions to the West, and then forwarded them out of the camp to the “big zone”. I recall that in this way forwarded our appeal to Pope John Paul II, which we wrote after we were punished for the celebration of Easter. I remember it very well, because I was charged to write this text as a person, to some extent, closest to the religious life. One had to know what words should be used there. It was a very demanding job which stuck in my mind for the responsibility I felt. For quite a time I remembered the whole text, but now I do not remember the exact wording.
What else? Well, of course, the endless searches and checks in the camp: there is nothing special to describe.
Let’s turn over to exile now (and if I occasionally recall something about the camp, I will return to it). My camp term expired in April 1984. So, in spring, sometime in late March, they took me out of the zone and brought to an unknown destination. But when I got to Aktyubinsk, it became clear that were transporting me to the Kazakhstan steppe.
In Aktyubinsk they kept me for 15 days together with domestic offenders, and those must have been my most difficult days for the entire period of imprisonment: they kept me among junior delinquents. Psychologically, it was extremely difficult. First, you know that you are about to be released, and you have such difficult offenders by your side… They are like little animals: they do not understand usual human relationships, they do not understand usual emotions, and their response is different from mine. Accordingly, many times there were pressure-cooker situations. And I still remember it all with a kind of horror.
I think that if they kept me among them another 15 days, it would have ended badly, because toward the end of the term I felt that the growing threat for my existence. But, thank God, it’s all gone. The brought me under guard in a militia wagon to the Village of Saralzhyn, Uyilsky Region, Aktyubinsk Oblast.
V. Ovsiyenko: It was a lived-in locality…
M. Marynovych: Yes, Valeriy Marchenko and Zorian Popadiuk used to live there. (Valery Marchenko did his exile term from July 1979 to May 1981; Zorian Popadiuk from June 1981 until his arrest on September 2, 1982.—V.O.). They brought me there, dropped off in high boots, quilted jacket and with a rucksack and you had to cut the coat according to the cloth. The villagers treated me pretty well. You see, I wasn’t there the first exiler: the Kazakhs already knew about how and what to expect from these settlers. From the very beginning they brought me foodstuffs and even borrowed money. Some, of course, pinned on me their hopes for the future that I might get them tea from Ukraine. They were and are, I believe, terribly fond of tea and at the time tea was an item in short supply. And all three of us living in exile, in turn, received tea from Ukraine and handed it out to Kazakhs or simply gave it away.
At first, of course, it was not a picnic. Once, at the beginning, when I was taken ill, I fainted and fell on the street; people avoided me and headed on. There were also some conflicting points. At first the administration accommodated me in a cabin and then I lived in a trailer (or rather I could only sleep there for during the day there was a crowd of workers). When I began to demand decent housing, I recall that one of the local bosses rudely muttered something and told someone (they later told me): “He ought to live in latrine and he raises demands instead.” But gradually things changed, and the same boss became almost my friend: he held me in high respect. Later Oral came to me in Drohobych (by the way, he arrived just in time for the presentation of my book Ukraine: postils in the Bible in the People’s House “Prosvita” and I introduced him to Drohobych citizens).
V. Ovsiyenko: Did you live in the same apartment as your predecessors?
M. Marynovych: No, no. They finally gave me a room in a completely different place. At first I really wanted to get that very apartment, but somehow it did not work.
I had a supervisor from Aktyubinsk. I had also, in principle, normal relations with them, with KGB officers. Occasionally also came a young KGB officer from Almaty, I liked talking with him. In fact, it was quite nice and comfortable to live in a remote Kazakh village, where, as Sverstiuk put it, people were children of the steppe, quite distant from politics and very close to the land, with their patriarchal way of life. I think Mykola Matusevych had a much more rugged life in the Chita Oblast among degraded Russians and Stus in the dormitory for workers in Magadan among drunken criminals who kept nagging him. And in Ukraine political exiles would have much worse accommodations than in Kazakhstan. In three months the Kazakhs began inviting me to their holidays, wedding or something, I mean those who knew me.
Once one of the Kazakhs told me that, before he invited me to a party, he went to a local militia officer, who was also Kazakh, and asked for a permission to invite Marynovych. The militiaman was surprised, looked at him and asked: “And did he do something bad to you?”—“No.”—“Then why do you ask me?” That is, they maintained there an absolutely human approach without any sort of ideology or politics. I was lucky that in the village I was the only Slav—not even a single Ukrainian!—and all the rest were Kazakhs (except for a few Chechens that made some money on the side there in construction). During three years, we established such good relationships with these people that it was painful to leave there: despite returning home I was uncertain about my future. A year after my release, during my first vacation, I made a sort of tour “along the Lenin’s localities” and went to visit some my friends-political prisoners (in Vilnius, Riga, Kuibyshev), and then I went to Kazakhstan, to the same village, but of my own free will. It deeply touched Kazakhs and they said: “The first time you came because brought you here and dumped. And if you come a second time of your own free will to see us, then you are our friend indeed.” So we were excellently getting on.
V. Ovsiyenko: And were there any problems with the language?
M. Marynovych: Almost never: we communicated in Russian. Even the older people were scraping through it. By the way, I was in swaddling clothes learning Kazakh language; I even had a Kazakh primer.
Why did I say that I was interesting for me to meet with the KGB officers? Because it was just splendid with Kazakhs, but it was not that interesting intellectually. And with the KGB officers you could train your intellect meeting challenges, especially with that young man from Almaty. It was in 1985; maybe a month or two passed after Gorbachev’s speech in Leningrad, where he announced his policy of perestroika. This announcement triggered the all-Union discussions and we also followed the trend. I still recall some of those formulations. I told him that I strongly supported the perestroika because it was a step in the direction I liked and I knew that if democratization went along these lines, it had to end with what you call separatism, and I the liberation people. And he said: “Oh, no! It is your perestroika might end in such a way, but our perestroika will prevent it.” I wonder if later this Kazakh KGB officer from Almaty recalled this conversation.
And I’d also like to tell you how I conducted myself with the Kazakh KGB officer from Aktyubinsk who was my supervisor in exile. He did his job well, that is I knew that I was under supervision everywhere. But he was not angry to the level of deep-seated animosity. Therefore when I arrived in Aktyubinsk already of my own free will on vacation from Ukraine and on the way back from Saralzhyn I had half a day of free time, I decided to go and see him, just like that! I was wondering how he would respond. And I had a great pleasure to receive evidence that they weaken when faced with unusual situations.
I went to the KGB and asked to call him having explained who I was. They entered me in a log, and after a time called back and fearfully asked to repeat whether it was really me. Once again, I certified that I was Marynovych indeed. Finally they led me to his office. He was totally confused! He looked at me having no idea what I was about to do: whether I would attack him, or what? Apparently, up to end of conversation he could not realize why I came. Gradually, he calmed down, but went from one extreme to another and conversed with me with utter sincerity. His initial confusion made itself felt in the fact that when he realized that nothing threatening followed from my side—no charges, accusations or attacks—then he began to treat me as a friend and suddenly began to sing small in a confidential tone… But I was interested to talk with him and watch his reaction.
I was so interested in this situation that in Kyiv I repeated the same: I went to the KGB in the Pechersk District and sought to see Olexandr Bereza, my investigator, to whom I promised that after 10 years (it is amazing that I knew that my term would be 12 years, but I told him that I would meet him in 10 years!) I would come to him and suggest going for a coffee and talk. He then laughed it off. So when I was sitting at the table for the accused and he was an investigator and questioned me, it cheered him up. And now, after 10 years, i.e. in 1988, I really arrived in Kyiv and visited him. And the same situation as in Aktyubinsk repeated, but without such a friendly end. Bereza was completely destroyed and ruined internally! He came buttoned-up—in a figurative sense—and scared. I started to say something to him, and in response he constrained himself to speak. It was in 1988, and nobody knew then how everything would turn out: they were all scared then. I think that now he talks much freer… I did my best to get him talking, but I failed. And after five or ten minutes I realized that nothing would come out of our conversation and I was simply bored… I just slackened off. I thought to myself: man, you were so free and relaxed when I was an accused. But I was able to joke with you then! Then I could easily deal with you! Why are you so constrained now? So, you do understand what you did… And this your fear shows that inside you there is a struggle and you are at a loss and cannot cope with that struggle. And then I said, "Okay, I will not torment you. Goodbye! All the best!”
By the way, I’ve just recalled the camp again. I had interesting experience related to the Gospel and the KGB. Here is one such story. When Igor Kalynets (you see, I forgot to mention Igor Kalynets, I forgot to mention Zorian Popadiuk), so, when Igor Kalynets left the camp, it happened in 1978, I asked him to copy Gospel for me in his letters, after he settled in exile, so that I could have at least some fragments in the camp. He went. Later I learned that he made it. Once I occasionally met Surovtsev, our KGB officer in the camp, and he began to ridicule me: “Oh, Marynovych, it did not work, your plan failed.” I looked at him and could not understand what my plans were. “You thought I would not guess your intentions? I did guess it at once! You had asked Igor Kalynets to rewrite for you the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel. And I noticed it at once and promptly removed the text!” I laughed that he treated it as a crime, and as his success as an official on guard: he thought he prevented a crime!
Now let us return to my exile again. From the political point of view three years of exile passed without any special shocks. I corresponded with many people. Of course, I had no intention to repent for the past, but also the situation itself was not conducive to declare any protests. My life was quite normal.
When new developments began after Gorbachev had launched perestroika and nobody knew anything about future events, a whole delegation came to Saralzhyn: Kazakh prosecutor from Aktyubinsk, a public prosecutor from Ukraine, from Lviv and two Lviv KGB officers, at least they were from Lviv Oblast. At the time my mother was on a visit to me. It was in late 1986 or early 1987; rather, it was the end of 1986. They began to talk in this vein: the situation in Ukraine is changing, democratization is underway, and we want to solve the case of dissidents in the meantime (these were the prosecutor’s words). We tell you responsibly: write a letter now stating that you regret that all this happened, and I promise you that within a month you will be released. And the others confirmed his words: yes, yes.
God knows how long they plagued me; I believe they did it during the whole day because I constantly repeated “no”, and they countered it with “yes”. And I told them: “Listen to me, gentlemen, you have no logic. I did seven years in the camps, I served three years of exile and you want me at the end of this term to write something I refused to write from the very beginning? Then I would have written it at the very outset and would not have served all this term. And you aspire to make me write it on the finish… of course, I would not write it.”
After a long squabble they finally said, "But can you write that you refuse to seek pardon?” They, apparently, were after the mere fact that something was written. And I wrote that I did not admit guilt and I would never write a penitential statement, because I did what I thought was necessary. The KGB officers were very displeased. The prosecutors responded differently, and the KGB officers told me already standing on the threshold: “Well, apparently, one cannot go further than the wall.” I do not know what the big idea was.
V. Ovsiyenko: He meant either them or you.
M. Marynovych: He meant either them or me. But it was uttered quite aggressively, even furiously.
They departed, and I was all geared up for staying there for another two years. Just at that time the fate of Liuba and me was decided: in December 1986 she arrived in Kazakhstan to live there with me. It never crossed my mind that just in a few months I would leave there. Liuba arrived; she left her job and her apartment in Kyiv so that she could live with me in Kazakhstan for two years.
At the end of March—somewhere, maybe on March—the Kazakh militiaman, who was well disposed towards me, summoned me and said: “Look here, it looks very odd, but I received the executive order to discharge you”. The situation came home to me, when I learned that at the time about two hundred political prisoners were set free. The administrators needed only one thing: they need my application to come in and they didn’t give a damn what was inside the document. (He laughs).
V. Ovsiyenko: And did they announce any motivation of your release?
M. Marynovych: No motivation at all. “In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Soviet on pardon”. The was no motivation. I saw in a document that it was “The Enactment of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR”.
I came back to Drohobych. I will not dwell upon it, but I’ll tell you in a few words about one episode. When I returned, the local KGB in Drohobych was still headed by Viktor Husev. He gave me a hearty welcome and said during our first conversation that he would furnish me a guarantee that my past would not affect my future. That is the KGB will not try and worsen my stay here.
Perhaps it was true, but people in Drohobych were still very frightened. In 1987 it was rather difficult to find a job. For some time I knocked about and then the guys at the oil refinery, the ones that I knew before my arrest, helped me. One of them was a party organizer, but he knew that I was not a gangster or criminal and he helped me, took upon himself the responsibility and placed me as an oil refinery operator. I worked as an operator for three years until 1990. I was very grateful to him for this support, because it was very difficult to live without sustenance.
I must say that in the years when I could not find an asylum in Drohobych they treated me like a plague-stricken. On the one hand, there was respect, but, on the other hand, it was a remote respect. So I apprehended the events of 1989-1990 not so with suspicion as with a sort of bias, because I was so impressed, you know with what… My mother told me that in very recent Soviet times she was sometimes walking down the street like in some cocoon of general fear: very few people risked to approach her. And now she often remembers and appreciates those people who used to come and support her. And then suddenly national feelings flared up in Drohobych: there were meetings, everybody became national-minded… And the man who, I know, was afraid to approach my mother, and, when I returned, avoided me, all of a sudden became almost the central figure of national revival in Drohobych! You know, I was being got at it, as they say. And even then I was like Cassandra: everybody was happy that everything was fine and dandy, while I watched the developments and said that it would and badly as things did not go our way.
And then it became a topsy-turvy world when all lost hope, when things began to topple in lean and hopeless 1993-1994; it was then that I gained hope and optimism. Of course, even now there occur very difficult moments when you look at what is, but at the same time I do not relinquish hope. Well, I am a dissident and that’s the end of it!
I have a feeling... that when I talked about the camp, I missed something very important. Why do I feel like that? I remember how after my return to Drohobych in one society I talked about the camp. We were sitting at the table and I mentioned something funny. And a man having listened to me said: “I reckoned that it was something terrible, now it turns out that that was a cushy kind of life to lead”. I was dumbfounded. I thought that perhaps I was doing something wrong concentrating human attention on some funny moments instead of scary ones. Of course, there were terrible moments; in fact, Stus, Valeriy Marchenko, Tykhyi and Lytvyn died in the camp. Personally, I cannot say about myself that I was hanging between life and death, although, for example, especially during transfer under guard, there were very hard moments. I recall one transfer under guard when I was squeezed in the militia wagon cooler for dangerous special offenders: there were three of us, where only one person should have been.
V. Ovsiyenko: O God! How come?
M. Marynovych: And we stood penned up together. Moreover, there were many potholes on the roads. The merciless stuffy heat: three men breathed, and such rough travel continued around 2-3 hours. Towards the end of this ride there was stifling atmosphere inside and I suffocated with the heat; I remember that it suddenly came to me that I could make a die of it in this cooler.
V. Ovsiyenko: And the fear is at the door!
M. Marynovych: Yes, the fear grips you. And everyone tries to free himself from this jam. It was really very difficult to pit yourself against heavy odds in this crush.
I’ve already mention that during one very long stay in isolation ward I famished and swelled. There were such hard times.
Speaking about the conditions in jail, one must admit that the conditions in the 36th camp were probably not the worst, though it was also called “the zone of death” (I think that there exist much worse criminal camps and disciplinary cells in criminal camps), though once we also had hoarfrost on the concrete wall in winter. And at the time we, as a rule, were dressed in thin overalls. We began rioting and maintained that the jailers intentionally turned down radiators so that they just did not freeze and frozen water did not break pipes, while they were torturing us with cold in the cells. We made the doctor to come and asked him what the mandatory temperature under the regulations was. I do not remember already what he answered, but when we showed him that hoarfrost on the walls, he looked at it and said, “Well, and what? Take it easy, you can still pull through”. That is they were all cut out of the same cloth, even doctors, who sometimes were worse than the jailers.
V. Ovsiyenko: You’ve mentioned this doctor several times already. Was his name Pchelnykov?
M. Marynovych: Right, the younger one was Pchelnykov.
V. Ovsiyenko: He was puke. In our camp he worked in the medium-security isolator.
M. Marynovych: And older doctor Petrov, I recall, loved jokes. His jokes, however, were rather special. For example, when after a hunger strike I was down with very severe periodontal disease, he said, “Well, you need vitamins. It would be good to chew strawberries…” And he looked at me with such a smirk.
V. Ovsiyenko: And he was dead right.
M. Marynovych: Yes, he was right on the beam. And he considered it a joke, though in fact, it was just a humiliation of the prisoner. The way it played with the doctors. Still there were many other occurrences, but I draw a blank.
Thus, until summer of 1990 I worked as a refinery operator in Drohobych. And just in 1990 (or maybe late in 1989), I wrote an article “Ukraine: postils in the Bible “; the title of this article later became the title of my first book. I brought it to the local newspaper “Radianske Slovo” (later “Halytska Zoria”). And before that I brought there a small news story, which I called “Let’s Take Counsel” and they published it. What was that news story about? I wrote about the Nativity Play staged in Drohobych Theater: the first Nativity Play staged in the times of Independence. It was glad news… Everybody enjoyed the play, everybody was happy to return to our traditions. Nevertheless I flagged the common spirits because I couldn’t tolerate the acting of the Jew in the Nativity Play. I strongly disliked the fact that some ethnic traits were ridiculed and parodied in such a way. I really hate it, even when it comes to the Russians or anyone else.
I’ll venture a short digression from the “Nativity Play Jew” topic because I’ve just remembered how at the same time the Lviv artists performed on tour in Drohobych and made fun of feeble Brezhnev: how he walked, talked, and pinned orders on his jacket and so on. I also denounce it: where you were when he was alive and in power? Why do you ridicule him now, when he is no more? This “heroic” derision, when everything is possible… I do not even like it from the point of view of aesthetics.
And in that small article--though I knew that since the very beginning of Nativity Play it contained such character as a cunning Jew—I suggested rejecting it. I do not want it to remain in history; I do not want to laugh at any nation making fun of some national traits, habits or something else.
V. Ovsiyenko: But there are also a Gypsy and Muscovite…
M. Marynovych: Yes, but in the Drohobych version of the Nativity Play there were no such characters as Gypsy or Moskal, only a Jew. It is clear that my proposal was accepted in Drohobych as very controversial one: how is it so that the Ukrainian national identity just starts rising from its knees, and he begins to put obstacles in its way? But then I was still barely known in Drohobych.
When I brought to the newspaper office my article “Ukraine: postils in the Bible” (Ivan Tykhyi was editor at the time) and they also published this article (which was a surprise for me because I thought that they would turn it down), it stirred up the community! In Drohobych simply no one could think that this might be published in the newspaper.
Ever since I became famous in Drohobych; people immediately wanted to meet me and I was blessed with many acquaintances. In 1990, when our city after the election was headed by a new administration, I was invited to become a correspondent for this newspaper. I agreed, because as compared to oil refining it is a more interesting work. I worked as a correspondent for Halytska Zoria for quite a long time until 1997. Someone told me that with my biography it was humiliating to be a reporter, "Why do not you become an editor?” But I preferred to write and correspondent had the ability to write while the editor should run, get the paper, escape being punished by the authorities for this and that. That is the reason, why I did not want to become an editor, was very simple.
Three times in the elections—in 1990, 1994, and 1998—they offered me in Drohobych to become a people’s deputy and I had a wonderful chance to win. In 1990 I had a chance because just then the Rukh was in the making and it was clear how Drohobych would vote in the elections: Democratic candidate was a front runner. Our members of the Rukh told me: “Mr. Marynovych, you are our Drohobych Chornovil—let’s go!” And I said, “No, I’m not Chornovil. I greatly admire Chornovil, but I am not Chornovil and that decides everything. I knew from the times of my serving in the camp how important it was to know my business and how those, who meddle in other people’s business, ruin themselves and spoil everything. I do want to stick to this principle, and I do not like to be put in a nomination”. Many people understood my position this way: “He is afraid”. I was greatly distressed with such a reaction, but I did not want, in order to please any of the people who I did not know, to give up what was very important and crucial for me.
And here came August 19, 1991. The coup organized by the State Committee on the State of Emergency. It is very interesting that before that many rallies took place. Usually I did not participate in those rallies. I went once or twice and heard some occasional speeches of come-and-go people who seemed to seek gaining prestige. I saw nothing real behind that shaming (“Shame! Shame!”). Maybe I was wrong and can now admit that it was a very important period of history.
When I learned of the coup through phone calls, through television, I realized that in all this history was something wrong: why the KGB officers were not the first to come to my khata and inform me about this? You know, there was something inadequate in the very model of the coup… I went to work cheerful and with a desire to compete. I came to the office and they were all scared and did not know what to start with. Why are you in a muddle? Sit down and write! Write an article immediately about this! “Will you write?" they asked me. “Yes, of course, I will.” I sat down and wrote; my primary thought was as follows: “Do not be afraid, it is a temporary undertaking.” During the three-day coup, I kept writing; those three little articles were later included into my second book Ukraine: the road through the desert under the title “Chronicles of Agony.”
On the very first day of the coup, at the standard hours of rallies I went to the meeting and expected to see there big crowds on the square. Along the way I met someone and he asked: “Where are you going?”—“Why, I go to the square where multitudes have gathered already, maybe.”—“What do you mean by meeting? Are you serious?” Later I learned that the meeting did take place and our Mayor Hlubish delivered a speech and urged people not to believe the putschists and do not be afraid to about their businesses. But then the circumstances were such that I without attending meetings decided that it was high time to participate, though there were objectors denying the necessity of meetings. In the office of Halytska Zoria it seemed that all authors disappeared for the period of the three-day coup. Earlier the editorial office was flooded with writings of various national champions, members of UIA, and so on (I don’t have my tongue in my cheek speaking about UIA; I rather mean those passing themselves off as excessively ardent fighters) and now no one was camping on the office’s doorstep! Only those three my articles came out. When on the fourth day it became clear that everything was over and the coup failed, the authors began flooding the editorial office again. And all scribblers started writing what rotten plotters the organizers of the coup were.
But people took notice of my articles and realized that it was not fear, when I refused to stand for election. One man told me, “Now I have understood that you’re not afraid to go to the Verkhovna Rada, you’re just out of the general run.” But I was happy to demonstrate everyone at a crucial moment that I was not afraid.
1994; the same old story: I was proposed to run for Verkhovna Rada. They also suggested me the office of mayor… By the way, I was not happy that Zorian Popadiuk ran for mayor of Sambir. I told him, “It is not good; you do not have proper skills for the job.”—“Well, you know, Chornovil persuaded me to run for it, because it was a dead-end.” I’ve no idea how Zorian now estimates his mayorship, but I reckon it was a mistake… So in 1994 I turned down all offers.
And in 1998, before the election, I had a conversation with Chornovil. He gave me a call and said, "Mr. Myroslav, I have already put out feelers and if you run in the election, all Drohobych parties will support you and you will win the elections. Then we will have no problems in Drohobych. Unless you are going, we have a problem: we will have to fight very hard with different candidates. Do you know what the situation is? You must go for it.”—“No, I must not stand for it and I won’t do it. Of course, I can imagine myself in the Verkhovna Rada, but I know that then I’ll lose what I have and what I rate highly. I do not like the give-and-take policy.” And I didn’t run for it. He was angry with me, “Well, how can you? Do you understand what the political situation is?” I answered: “Such political situation will repeat once and again.”
So three times I refused to go to the Verkhovna Rada and I am glad that I managed to refrain from doing so. For a long time I heard the words of Zynoviy Krasivsky. When I first refused to become a deputy, he was the only one who not only was not surprised and did not look at me as a person who was afraid and told me the following: “Well, Mr. Myroslav, I am proud of you.” He also did not go to the Verkhovna Rada, though for other, ideological reasons.
I worked as a reporter until 1997. In Drohobych Halytska Zoria I published my articles not only about political, but also about the religious situation. I was very sad about the controversies between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Halychyna. I wrote several articles on the subject calling for peace. And in early 1991 the Rector of Drohobych Pedagogical Institute invited me to prepare a course of lectures on “The History of Christianity in Ukraine”. On the one hand, this was a positive development for the institute; I think it’s the first time in Ukraine when such course replaced the “History of Atheism”. With the help of Vasyl Ivanyshyn, our local celebrity and lecturer at the Institute, I prepared the course and started working there. On the other hand, it was one of the attempts of the Pedagogical Institute to somehow protect itself against Iryna Kalynets who started then to manage education in Lviv and gave short shrift to all communists and our rector of the pedagogical institute until recently was a member of the City Communist Party Committee. So he wanted to show: see, we have a change! When I realized later that the former lecturers of history of atheism recovered, prepared lectures on the history of religion and they needed my hours, I said that I wouldn’t hang on the job. And in 1994 I stopped working there. But they invited me with the same lectures to the Institute of Management in Drohobych. I have worked there for two years and then abandoned those lectures, because I had to go abroad for a few months.
And at the same time, for several years (from 1993 till 1997) I was part-time research fellow at the Kyiv Institute of Eastern Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. I was invited there by Yaroslav Pelenskyi and Natalia Yakovenko. They encouraged me to start working on a major monograph which I am trying to do now. I get around to it among my many duties and proceedings.
Back in 1990 I started attending a lot various conferences, seminars, meetings and not only in Ukraine but also abroad. I made many business trips related to amnesty cases, but not only. It so happened that people started inviting me to the conferences, seminars, and meetings though I did not have a degree. And the subjects of the conferences was very different: about the relations among ethnic groups (e.g., there was a series covering Ukrainian -Jewish relations in Kyiv, then in Jerusalem), human rights, politics, philosophy, religious life… I never counted them, but I over the past decade I attended perhaps one hundred and fifty of those trips, lectures, conferences, in which I participated. I am really content with these activities for it is a real and intense work.
In 1996, there was an event which changed my life to a great extent. I went to attend special courses on “Religion, human rights, and religious freedom” in the Columbia University, USA. It took 4 months of theoretical course and then 2 months of practice in Atlanta at Emory University and one month at the World Council of Churches in Geneva. These courses gave me some training on issues concerning religious freedom, and upon my return a few months later, the vice-rector of the Lviv Theological Academy Borys Gudziak (now Father Gudziak) invited me to the Academy to establish and head the Institute of Religion and Society at the Lviv Theological Academy. And since then, that is since October 1, 1997, I have been working there.
V. Ovsiyenko: What is your job title?
M. Marynovych: Director of the Institute of Religion and Society at the Lviv Theological Academy.
Now, for the social work. In 1991 I organized in Drohobych an initiative group of the Amnesty International, which was recognized in London, the first working group of the Amnesty International in the former Soviet Union. They say, the Moscow group of the Amnesty International was offended why London recognized some kind of a group in Drohobych, and not their group in Moscow. In 1993 the Ukrainian Association “Amnesty International” was set up; I was the first chairman of the National Committee of the Association and served there until 1997, and then gradually moved away. I am an ordinary member of the Amnesty International.
I am also a member of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian-American Human Rights Bureau: it is the Kyiv Office of Antoniuk and Hluzman. I am a member of the Helsinki Civil Assembly. But I didn’t join any political party did not join for the exception of six months somewhere in 1992-1993 when I declared myself a member of the People’s Movement of Ukraine. I did my best in order to support Vyacheslav Chornovil, when he was attacked by the Nationwide Movement of Ukraine organized by Larysa Skoryk.
And, apparently, it’s quite enough about public activity. What else?
V. Ovsiyenko: It seems we have exhausted all topical issues. Thank you, Mr. Myroslav! Maybe we will remember something else and then we will meet again.
 Feast of St. John the Baptist in Ukrainian folk tradition (translator’s note).
 Boris Antonenko-Davydovych lived in the Writers’ Apartment House on the corner of Lenin and Kotsiubynsky streets, where carolers visited also Honchar, Shumylo, Malyshko, Vysheslavsky etc. The Hmyrias lived in apt. 60, 18 Pushkinska Street (later apt. 28, 20 Pushkinska Street), in the apartment house where actors, musicians and technical personnel of the Kyiv Opera Theater lived. At the time the latter house wasn’t visited by the carolers. The author might have met Hmyria’s widow at some other place (translator’s note).
 Polish expression meaning “be too much” (translator’s note).
 It is a wordplay: an imitation of Jewish pronunciation of Ukrainian sounds (translator’s note).
 Its proper name was and is the resettlement fund (translator’s note).
 It is a meaningful name in Ukrainian which means a pole or a beam. There is a very old Ukrainian proverb based on a pun which means: every law has a loophole (translator’s note).
 For alternative dating see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymshits%E2%80%93Kuznetsov_hijacking_affair (translator’s note).
 It was named Leningrad at the time (translator’s note).
 In Old Ukrainian “Moskal” had two main meanings: 1) soldier; 2) derogatory Russian (translator’s note).