SMOHYTEL Vadym Volodymyrovych


author: Vasyl Ovsiyenko

V.V.Ovsiyenko: On November 11, 2008, in Kyiv, we are talking with Mr. Vadym Smohytel in the apartment of Vasyl Ovsiyenko. Vadym Smohytel.

V.V.Smohytel: I, Vadym Smohytel, was born on April 1, or All Fools' Day, in Odesa in 1939. My mother was born in Cherkasy Oblast, Village of Matusiv, and my father was born in the Village of Trytelnyky, Khmelnytsk Oblast. They met in Odesa. My mother went to work in Odesa, and my father, too. They were railroad employees and I was born in Odesa in 1939. How now? What can I tell about the Odesa period? We lived there for about four years and during the war we moved to Zhmerynka. The Romanians took my father prisoner and my mother had nothing to live on, and my father's father lived in Zhmerynka.

Well, what I remember about the Odesa period? In Odesa we had a relative on the paternal side Andriy Perchynskyi. He was a nationalist. He painted pictures, made violins and pianos and always spoke Ukrainian. Of course, he worked as a mechanic and was very afraid of the authorities. And this ran in our family that one of the Perchynskys was a priest… Anyway, my mother as well as my father told that he was a nationalist. What else is there from Odesa period? When the Ukrainization was underway in Odesa, not Ukrainians but German colonists were the first to become Ukrainianized. My mother told me that many Germans were arrested for Ukrainian nationalism. Well, it was all the same for them, to what language switch over to, they lived in villages, and therefore they knew Ukrainian. And we during the war lived with a German Thomas. They had lived there for two hundred years. When the Soviet Army began to advance, Thomas decided to retreat with Hitlerites to Germany. Therefore, we could not continue to live with them. My mother contacted my father’s parents, with my grandfather, and we moved to Zhmerynka during the war.

My mother taught me: "Sonny, do not pronounce [sti:l] but [stil][1], not [i:nshii] but [inshii][2]. She had heard it from someone. A lot later I realized what Cherkasy Oblast meant for Ukrainians. It's like Halychyna, everything came from Cherkasy Oblast and there lived strong people. Later, when we went there with the chorus Zhaivoronok, they in the Village of Matuseve sang Soviet songs translated into Ukrainian. They also sang the popular Russian song “Katyusha”. There I saw for the first time the vertep[3]. The boys (there were no girls), the octagonal star: they entered the khata. It produced a powerful impression. 

What else? My mother fled to Russia in 1932 or 1933. She boarded a train and fled to Russia. She alighted from the train in a village nearest to Moscow to evade getting into the city. In this village−as luck would have it−people used to turn the air blue. My mother told me that she thought that she would burn with shame when a mother told her daughter: “You cunt, fucked in the head”, and the daughter retorted: “You’re a cheap tart”. And the fathers conversed with their children in the same way. They were all sewer-mouthed. Why do I say this? Because in our family we did not speak Russian. My mother came to hate them; she realized it was a sort of wild tribe. Pushkin belonged among the caste, he represented elite he had nothing to do with the people. My mother examined Russian people closely. And at the same time in Cherkasy Oblast, in Matuseve, where we used to go every year after the war the worst terrible curse was “devil’s blood”. If a neighbor called his neighbor “devil’s blood”, they would break with one another forever unless somehow or other they reconciled. Otherwise, they would be out of contact till their dying day. My mother said, "I could not walk down the street, I blushed with shame, I did not believe that people could live like that, speak like that, I did not believe.”

There was a village near Matusove; in 1933 people were driven there, they worked there. It was a ghetto. My mother went and snatched my father and my grandfather Olexa out from there in 1933.

What else did she tell me? That if ever communism prevails in the world—only pitiful remains were left outside while communist China is already there, and India and America are already under way-- if it happens, the most terrible slavery on this earth would ensue since the beginning of life on Earth.

War. My father came from captivity: the Romanians had taken him prisoner. Odesa was occupied by Romanians and not Germans. He came to Odesa and then to Zhmerynka where we lived. My father knew Kobzar by heart, but he was terribly frightened. When he went out he used to ask for beer in Russian so scared he was. He knew everything about Andriy Perchynsky. This state germinated of terror and he knew it. He was in captivity and he was ready to live in want, but not in prison. He was so scared of jail… He played guitar and my mother sang. What did she sing? She sang Rudansky’s songs: A squaddie came and said, “Cook me this with which you try usually to stuff a pie. But the woman knows already what desires the know-all squaddie. But before his wish to meet she expects to hear drumbeat. And when the drumbeat sound, praise the Lord, she asks the squaddie in accord: "Oh, yeah, you mean varenyky and all..." But here the trumpet sounds the call. The squaddie quits his dream of meals and takes himself to his heels." I say that we had a sort of national atmosphere. It had nothing to do with Bandera, just the whole East was like it; such atmosphere prevailed at home in my school-days. It wasn’t effaced from my memory… Of course, at the time my mother then regretted that she had told me these things, but she was quite unalive to the possibilities that her words might become directing marks for me.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Please, name your parents and tell the years of their lives.

V.V.Smohytel: I have to check their years of life. You know, in America, I reached the state of forgetting my father’s birth date. When I came to America—just a couple of words--I thought that having composed film music for the film about Nina Matviyenko I would be able to teach children good Ukrainian in a Ukrainian; I might play piano and go on writing music; I needed no money. But when I came, I saw something quite different! In fact, it wasn’t like going crazy, but I just saw no intelligentsia; there were people speaking Ukrainian, but they had no idea why they were doing it. They did not educate children in America for future independent Ukraine, so that they could come to new Ukraine and use their American knowledge to make the new state. The American children said, “I do not know why I live in New York and why I learn Ukrainian”. Hence, their parents failed to explain them what for. Not a single Ukrainian family… upon my soul… I wrote in one song dedicated to James Mace that “emigration, you are not our nation and Ukrainian-speaking generation, brothers, is not our nation.” They are  Ukrainian-speaking Americans. They are not the people they were expected to be… Take as an instance the Jews scattered in the world… Where was Moshe Dayan? He was the Soviet Army General. They dreamed that when there would emerge their state they would come together… And if I had told a Ukrainian in America that if there had been Ukraine he should have gone there as a general… So he would immediately go to the CIA and report on me. They do not understand this one and all! I tell you as a man who lived in America for fifteen years. It had a great influence upon me. Maybe there were smart people as well, there was Yevhen Malaniuk… they died and the remaining lot, as a lady of easy virtue said, “something with a thing or two”.

I came to New York and worked dying shirts for a company of one Ukrainian. There was also another Ukrainian working there. And he said, "Mr. Vadym, why live in New York? They took me to a Sunday school, it beats me why”. I could not answer him then; I did not know, I had just arrived. I was so astonished that everything passed completely from my mind… My cousin lived in Ternopil, I traveled to Ternopil, and know a little Halychyna. I was jailed in Kherson Oblast. But the worst people with distorted faces live at large. I did note see there my people.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, who returned to Ukraine? Osyp Zinkevych returned with his publishing company. This man is doing good business here.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes. Where are the others? I'm back. I have an American passport and I can board any liner now and go and live there.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: But I have put you out…

V.V.Smohytel: Wait a minute. Well, my father was born in 1911, but there was something with his pension… Many a man resorted to guile at the time: they wanted to be younger. But when the time came for them to retire, they began unwinding procedure. My father was born in 1911 and my mother was born in 1916. My mother died in 1990 and my father in 1975. He was 62 years old. Of course, he hated it all. When my mother was sewing quilted coats because we couldn’t survive for my father’s wages, a militiaman entered our khata. My mother always locked there but this time maybe she went out or went to latrine and the militiaman entered our khata. She fell on her knees and begged him not to imprison her because the domestic work was forbidden. Since then and until his dying day he visited her to get a kickback for helping her to evade responsibility. 

And so my childhood elapsed. I was born in Odesa, but I consider Zhmerynka my native land, because in Zhmerynka, in 1945, I went to school and finished it in 1955. Once I listened in classical music. It felt like somebody slashed my eyes with a knife. When I attended music school, I learned that it was the fortieth symphony by Mozart. It became a quirk of my own. My mother bought me an accordion. When I was six, I went to get a haircut at the railroad station. There was a soldier with a big accordion. I told him: "Sell it." He answered, "I need money." My mother had a downy shawl, she gave it to her neighbor, and the neighbor gave money and in such a way she bought me this accordion. For me this was the biggest toy I ever had like a living creature. I pressed the keys and it spoke with me: so I played accordion. When I graduated from high school… I got As for math. We had a teacher Sofiya Borysivna, a Jew, she said, “Smohytel, where did you enter?”. I said, “I entered musical college”. She says, “Aren’t you crazy! You ‘ve gone crazy.” When I later played accordion near the White House, I recalled Sofiya Borysivna, this lovely Jew. I think: "So if I had chosen mathematics…”. But I preferred music… Actually I did not believe that one can learn music. There was no music school in Zhmerynka. I did not believe that somewhere one could go and study music. When I entered the music college, I cried for joy. At six in the morning you could come to the college and play until 9 a.m. Two pianos stood in a class. One could play before the first lesson began. I wanted to study only music.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: When did you go to this college?

V.V.Smohytel: This I know for sure: I studied there from 1955 till 1959; the Hliyer School in Kyiv. As a fourth-year student I became national-minded, and it happened very simple. We were the first-year students, next year curriculum included the period from Renaissance until Mozart, then Mozart, then European music, then Russian music, and in our fourth year we studied Ukrainian music. Lysenko’s operas were very weak and he never in his life put them on stage[4]. Some singers sang them privately somewhere. These were amateurish performances. There were stagy Kozaks, flat characters; in short, they were uncompetitive. The works of Leontovych made a great difference. His arrangements of songs were brilliant indeed. But Ukrainian classical music in 1955 or 1959, when I finished training, was very weak, just a couple of works at the very best[5]. I fell into deep thought. In literature we have Shevchenko: it is a top level. In music we have no such big names. And I wondered why not? And I came to a conclusion. For example, in Russia there were " free schools of music".[6] They gathered talented children and taught them for free. I understand that in order to write poems you need to have a secret notebook and be able to write. And you can write a brilliant poem. While without education you cannot write even a bad symphony or bad fugue, or bad sonata. You have to be educated to know what is allegro in sonata form or how to write a fugue, what counterpoint means. Well, and education is expensive. It was always expensive and here the state should help. And it occurred to me that there must be a state in Ukraine, an independent state! If there is no state, there will be no music. And we did not have a nation state. We needed to make our state. How should it be done? Well, I cannot suggest my comrade “Come, let us make a state.” I am absolutely sure that you should commence making it from yourself. I have to do it myself. I spoke Russian, because in Kyiv everybody spoke Russian. As a fourth-year student of the musical college I decided that if I go to the conservatory, I will never in my life say a word in Russian in Ukraine. For better or for worse--to my luck and my mother’s grief--I entered the conservatory. Since then I never in my life spoke Russian in Ukraine.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: In what year did you enter the conservatory?

V.V.Smohytel: In 1959. And do you know what happened? Some people ask: "What’s the difference?" In fact, there is a big difference. When professors lectured, of course in Russian, I answered in Ukrainian; a group of twenty students were sitting behind me and they were laughing not at me, but at the professor, because they understood: where else can I speak Ukrainian? It was a bomb in the conservatory. It happened in 1959. In 1956, when my mother came to me in Kyiv, we got on the trolley-bus and talked--on Peremoha Square, which at the time the Kyivites called Yevbaz—the hum of conversations died away and all of a sudden somebody remarked: “Look, they are dressed decently but still speak Ukrainian.” When an old woman with outstanding veins and wearing rope shoes got on the trolley-bus? It was normal, because she came from reservation. But when I and my mother were decently dressed, it was impressive. It was not so long ago: 1956-59 and suddenly a conservatory student on principle, absolutely everywhere and at the lectures spoke Ukrainian… One day I was walking and a man approached me: "Good day." I said, "How do you know that it is a good day?"--"I am working for such organization, that I have to know. Let's have a talk." And he flared his KGB ID. “Well, let's have a talk.” We sat down and he told me that they knew about my language preferences and so on. “You know,” he said, “I’m also Ukrainian, my wife is Ukrainian and we speak Ukrainian at home, but we do not make politics out of it.”—I said: “Well, I'm not interested in what you are doing with your woman, I am not at all interested. What else do you want from me?”—“You know, you may find yourself in a difficult situation, and if we wanted to help, we couldn’t pull you out even with a tank." And I said, "Is that all?" He said: "Yep." I said: "Then you may tell your general or your boss as follows. I am from a Kozak family, and I am not so easily scared. Or there may be fear, as in every person, but I am not scared all the same. I am not involved in anti-state activities. We have a Hymn of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, it reads in Russian and Ukrainian "Proletarians of all countries unite!” I do nothing, I bear no submachine-guns, absolutely nothing. Tell him that I will go on speaking Ukrainian. And do not waste your time, I do nothing illegitimate. If it looks like it, it is not my fault, it's your fault. If you speak Ukrainian only at home, try now to speak everywhere, as contrasted to my father, who spoke Ukrainian with me at home and was afraid to do it on the street. Speak everywhere because this is our land. Tell me where can I speak Ukrainian: in Edmonton, in Washington or Moscow? Where can I talk Ukrainian unless in Kyiv? Where, tell me where to speak Ukrainian? Tell your boss that I will go on speaking Ukrainian.”

After my classes I used to get on the trolley-bus and wanted to hear, if someone else spoke Ukrainian. Everybody spoke Russian. One day a man and a woman were sitting and chatting in beautiful regular Ukrainian. It was a sight for sore eyes. I thought, "O Lord, thank God, I’ve found". Suddenly, the man turned around and said in Russian, "Pass on the ticket, please." I was beside myself with rage and yelled at the top of my voice: "You said what? Come again!" My God, I was pestering him!… I remembered my father then. 

When I got married, my wife and I were also standing… So, I took a wife, who was my likeness. She was a primary school teacher, Halyna Ripa. Ripa was her family name. I also thought that the artist was not Repin but Ripyn. Why do we say Repin?[7] She was Ripa. Halyna Ripa, born in 1937. She died of cancer when she was 48. She gave birth to my boy, my son, he is OK and he has it made in the shade. She and I were lining up for kvass and were exchanging remarks in Ukrainian. A tubby old man came up—at the time we lived in Voskresenka Neighborhood--and asked us, "Are not you afraid?" I pretended that I did not understand, I said, "Why should we?”—“You know why.”—“No,” said I “I have no idea.”—“I’ve asked you whether you were not afraid.”—“I am not afraid," I retorted. We took our kvass and went away, and I told Halyna: “Halyna, you see, he’s one of those surviving intellectuals.” By the way, I am writing a book about fear now. Fear is a common feeling but more often than not you meet with it in Ukraine… May I wander from the subject for short while?

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Sure you can.

V.V.Smohytel: It is everywhere. I will publish it. When Drach yells: "Writing is our pathetic fate. We’re doomed to perambulate and find everything until the wind rustles poplar leaves over two crosses.” He writes: "Writing is our common fate." Do you understand? Oops! Sverstiuk comes to America… He was expected to lecture on Ukrainian Orthodoxy. I attended this lecture. Sverstiuk said, "A church is a church? You can go to any church you like.” I do not know why Sverstiuk says it. The intellectuals who invited him hoped he would say about the Autocephalous Church. About Ukrainian Church. And he… sort of something… No tongue can tell nor pen describe. I could not believe my own ears. This fear really exists, such as it is. Well, the same Drach could say that I had corrected this under pressure, right? Can Dziuba say that I wrote my Face of Crystal because I had tuberculosis. Can he? Drach, I’ve heard, in the apartment of Horska said: "I was summoned by the KGB general…” Well, there is no need to summon good-for-nothing  Pavlychko, he is just a scum, he's the world's greatest jerk, a leech. He cursed Malaniuk, cursed Pope, cursed yellow-blue flag, cursed everything, a scamp.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Once and again he was telling that the Banderivetses were throwing children into wells.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, yes, I know, I know! But our people… When good-for-nothing  Pavlychko came to the United States our people met him like Jesus Christ. Such are our customs. Drach recounted how he was summoned by a KGB general. He came, a gentle man was sitting there. He said: "Excuse me for having called you. Do you prefer to see me in uniform?” According to Drach, this man said to him: "Here, Ivan Fedorovych, you are a communist and so on, we are following you… By the way, did you happen to know these verses:

On the Day of St. George in spring

I went to the well with pails,

And there in a stormy swing

The cherry bloomed with windy sails.

Have you heard?”—“No, I’ve never heard it.” This was one Ada Mohylianska[8]. “You know, Ivan Fedorovych, it may well be that the next generation will not know Drach as well. So let's you and I come to an agreement. Either you live in the state and bear yourself…” This was the last time he was in the apartment of Alla Horska and said so. After that he became a real sob. Or even worse than that… the fucking Dmytro Padlychko took him in and trained him… But now could Drach say that it was nothing but terror? I heard on TV an interview with Drach… he is a ruin of his former self! "I wore a greatcoat, you know, as a freshman I wore a greatcoat. I had no telephone at the time.” But as a senior he already wore fashionable leather jackets. It's just a ruin which isn’t worth listening to, he is nothing but a windbag. A pitiful crock. This is a face of fear. There were but a few people who took responsibility, shouldered this burden and carried it to the end. Anybody can fall low, but s/he has to get up and go on again, present her or his apologies and go. And this one fell low and conked down. And Dziuba had to apologize. When I was leaving I went to Svitlychny, and do you know what Svitlychny said? He said: "Vadym, I will forgive everyone, and let me forgive them all, maybe I said something wrong. There is the only person in the world whom I will not forgive. Who? Dziuba.” Ivan Svitlychny, do you get me? God exists. I am not a fabler, I tell the truth.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Let us return to the times of conservatory.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, times of conservatory. I found a Belarusian wedding song:

“A May rose bent down by the fence,

I am a lass without a kin, without defense.

It is difficult to fare,

Because strangers do not care.

I can but go crying

To find my fate sighing.”

I liked it very much, especially the verses: “It is difficult to fare, Because strangers do not care.” I composed a song for two voices. It sounded really great: “It is difficult to fare, Because strangers do not care. Those strangers do not care, They want catch you with a snare.” Nina Matviyenko sang and the lower voice repeated singing this tune. In short, I did this polyphonic a'capella arrangement for two votes. Why? I perceived there the idea of the Soviet Union that the foreign land is not your homeland, not family, something different. But who will sing? These famous bel canto vocalists did not agree to perform. Suddenly I heard on the radio Nina Matviyenko. O my God, this is it! I went to her, gave her the song, and she sang this song. By the way, yesterday the principal gave me the LP with this song. I did my term in jail then and Nina said, "If I record the song, who should be indicated as author?". I say: "Better do not write anything." I gave her and she liked it. This song was twice on the radio perhaps. It was on the air and the KGB immediately banned it. I only wonder why Nina Matviyenko writes nothing about it now. She writes that she is a patriot, but says nothing about this song. Maybe it's the same fear. She sang and the song was censured. Avdiyevsky sent for her. Mykola Vorobyov translated the text into Ukrainian. Nina said she wanted to sing in Ukrainian and Mykola Vorobyov translated. Now he is the Shevchenko Prize Winner. By the way, his father is Russian. I never in my life heard a single Russian word from Mykola. He translated. Avdiyevsky sent for her. It never crossed my mind that the title of the Belarusian song echoes the title of the famous Ukrainian song, where there are such verses as “we will uphold our May Rose, we will make merry our native Ukraine…” Avdiyevsky sent for Nina and began stamping his feet and making the scene like slaughter of the Innocents: "I am your employer and you afford yourself to sing about May rose? The KGB summons me to ask: What is it called??" Oops! Nina told me: "Vadym, I do not need all this, I do not want complications.” I said: "Nina, I'm sorry, but this is a Belarusian song. I told you to sing it in Belarusian. But you wanted it in Ukrainian.” 

This was my first encounter with Nina Matviyenko; that was how it turned out. She sang. And then, when it meant prison, Nina said, "I’m recording an LP and I would not like to write your name: if I write that it is the arrangement of Vadym Smohytel, the entire LP would be censured. Maybe we can indicate someone else?"

V.V.Smohytel: “No,” I said, “that's a no-no. Do not write anything, we will look into it later.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: So when it happened, in what year?

V.V.Smohytel: In 1980. In 1980 the LP was out… Well, we had recorded the song earlier but the LP was released in 1980. Maybe, I wrote the song in the seventies, and then it took a lot of time while she recorded the song, the recording was shelved for eight years until she decided to put out the LP. The LP was out in 1980 and it was labeled “Nina Matviyenko” and the selection included the “May Rose”. There was no indication that it was a Belorussian song, nevertheless it was a significant event… I felt that this state… Well, I'll tell you frankly that Nina was not jailed, Nina received apartments, all her titles were awarded in the Soviet time, the Soviet power did not wound her feelings. Well, maybe they spanked her a little. And so Nina has no reason to feel hurt… I never met Nina in Svitlychnyi’s apartment, never in my life. When there was a need to sing a song by Avagian, I asked Nina, Nina did not dare to come. Avagian was killed. He wrote: “Milky Way, Milky Way is our fate, it is our liberty, is our God, that is…”. He began composing such Ukrainian songs, Jesus! He wrote something for Nina, Nina sang this song, and when Avagian was killed… Did you include him into your “Dictionary of Dissidents”? You’d better write about Avagian… Olexandr Avagian, Jesus… Ivasiuk was in the West, and Avagian was here.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: I will look for him in the Internet.

V.V.Smohytel: Yeah, in these “Dissidents”.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: I have never heard about him.

V.V.Smohytel: I will tell you, not now, let us do it a little later, you just jot down: “Avagian”. He spoke Russian, his father was Armenian and mother Moskalenko, but the Moskalenkos for three or four generations lived in Leningrad. When he was killed, I went to his mother, and she asked me: "Who are you?" I said, "I am his friend, an acquaintance.”—“I’ve never seen you before now”. And I told her: "Let's put it this way. Avagian was a speleologist, he found a poster of Banderovetses in the caves in Ternopil Oblast. He came to me with a trident, and I made him pictures." And she said: "Well, as far as you are in the know, please come in as far as Sasha trusted you.” He was born here, and in this atmosphere of Kyiv he started writing Ukrainian songs. I asked him: "Why do you not speak Ukrainian, as far as you know the language?” You know what he said to me genially? He said: "Vadym, when I had written “Milky Way”, I brought it directly to the radio. There was need to go to the KGB; all Ukrainian-speaking editors told me: “Sasha, nothing will come of it. It is a nice song, but you’d better change its title for “Star Way”. I at once sent them some place off, faggots.” We did without KGB. That was a great song! Above you there was a glassy sky, and Chumaks were reflected in this glass… And time and again the chorus sounded: “Milky Way, Milky Way is our fate, it is our liberty, is our God, that is…” He used to say that he had these recordings and he promised to present them to me… He said: “When three hundred men in the forest in Ternopil Oblast were singing "Milky Way" I said that they would wash me out. And if they really try and murder me I’ve done something for Ukraine”. Indeed, he was killed. They hired a prisoner and released him to kill Avagian. I think his name was Syvohorlo. I took these documents with me and brought them to America to give them to Judge Futey. But, Jesus, he did not even like to see these documents about Avagian. He did not want even to look into the case. Avagian was killed. But the Ukrainian gate opened to him and there among the saints he walks. He would master the spoken Ukrainian as well, as he wrote many poems indeed…

OK. Well, now for the conservatory. Then I was kicked out of the conservatory.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: In what year were you expelled?

V.V.Smohytel: In 1964. I needed a higher salary, I had finished three courses already, it happened during the transition to the fifth year of study. I had to get a reference, so I turned to them. They did kick me out but there was no order of expulsion.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: But was there some sort of formulation?

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, "for poor progress”. Yes, I did fail a number of tests and examinations. Well, Jesus I might as well resit exams in spring. Then they admitted me to the conservatory, because I had a kind of nationalistic reference from Halychyna. Everybody called me Banderivets, but I had neither lived there, nor seen a living Banderivets. I worked in Buchach and brought them an excellent reference from my place of work though my work was nationalistic to the point. So I asked them, "Well, why football-biased people can work, while nationalist-biased cannot?” I collected books out there, and what, I had no right to study?

Then I went to Moscow; I wanted to be a student of the composers’ department, and then I decided that as far as I wrote music, I would be a composer, but I was not a composer, I might graduate from a dozen of composers institutes and still would not become a composer. Once and again I signed up, work for two months and was expelled from work, sacked. And I had a wife and a child to take care of, you know. Endless scandals at home. Finally, they came to me and said, "Sit down and write". I said, "I will not write anything." They brought me a ready written document. "Well,” I said, “you may print it, but, please, touch no one and do not try to worm yourself into my confidence. I cannot stand it. Or I will leave this country. I cannot live under such conditions”. And they published it in the newspaper Shliakh Komunizmu. I failed to learn all the ropes. All by themselves they scribbled and published something. And when they came up to me and said, "Oh, now it’s high time for you to appear on TV.”—“No,” I said.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: What did they write there?

V.V.Smohytel: They wrote that I admitted that I suffered a disaster. That it was Svitlychnyi who drew me in. I crossed out all of it, saying: "Yes, I am a bad guy and that’s that." I physically could not tolerate that. Well, how shall I put it? It was not fear, just they nagged me like green-bottle flies. Well, you cannot, you know, well, you cannot live! Nowhere my employment continued for more than six weeks and then dismissal followed--sack, sack, sack, they kicked me out of the conservatory. It was my kind of tactical move.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: So when was it published? Before 1972 or after 1972?

V.V.Smohytel: After 1972. I think that they did it between 1972 and 1977. When they published it, I thought it was the end. Listen! He came up to me and said, “You know, you film very well, you should be on TV.”—“No,”, I said. "Well, what do you mean?”—“No,” I said. “Make or mar, no, no and no, that is the end of it”. We settled on that. Well, of course, my friends opined: “You’d better not become involved from the very beginning, Vadym.” I said, “I know that I had to refuse to write from the very start, I know… But wait, maybe one day it will become a document of terrorization.” This is nothing but a real terrorization! And didn’t they terrorize Drach? He came and told him, "What are you writing?" It's terror! This is a real terrorist organization. And I may testify that it was a terror. And not because I could not resist. Maybe if I were alone at home… But the baby was born, my wife made rows every day… Well, I could not earn a scanty pittance. In short, I came to the point that I had to go to Moscow, and there was the White Tower, I was told, and in the White Tower… That is I brought a letter to Brezhnev. Do you have it here among the documents? Well, I’ve got a copy.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: No, not here.

V.V.Smohytel: It was written in black and white: I did not serve in the army, I know no secrets, you have a beautiful country, but I beg you to release me from this beautiful country. I do not blame anyone… Please release me from this country. You know, I was being got at… Please release me. I want to create an orchestra somewhere, I want to write music, I do not want to live in your country. I don’t want! I came to the Kremlin, saying: "I have a letter to Brezhnev." They: "Where are you from?" I said, "From Ukraine.”—“Look here, there is the White Tower, they accept letters there." I went and gave my letter. Of course, I went secretly, I did not wise up my friends, no one was in the know. When I arrived, there came to me Hryts Khalymonenko: he was the first one who gave me away.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yeah, I know, I know Hryts.

V.V.Smohytel: So, it was he who gave me away. He had two brothers, one of them worked in the KGB. Mykola Khalymonenko was E-in-C in Tvarynnytstvo Magazine, by virtue of official position he had a personal car. As soon as I arrived, Hryts came and said, "Hey, where on earth have you been? It seems you’ve written something there…" He was one hundred percent the first who… I realized this already later, after prison. "They say you’ve written something…" And I told him as a friend which way the wind blew. The KGB got the money… and played a touch-me-not. So who they find? They find Hryts Khalymonenko. By the way, he had a good command of Ukrainian and made excellent translations from Georgian, but…[9] And this sob Dmytro Pavlychko also had a good command of Ukrainian. But if you compare verses by Avagian and by Pavlychko… Avagian wrote: "The wind bent the grass…", "The dew fell on the grass and a tear rolled down the cheek” while the latter wrote… Avagian did not know the road to the Writers’ Union, and Dmytro wrote: "We will harken to it as a deer and a doe…” or “your anxious cry." And this verse: "I will go and lie down with you”? What do these verses mean? It's a poetry for brothels and whores. Avagian’s poetry was much more sublime. I will bring you. I delivered a paper “On compromise in Ukrainian literature” and compared Avagian with this sob Pavlychko, with his works. When there was a trial… Whatisname? They lived on Moskovska Street… Antoniuk!

V.V.Ovsiyenko: You mean Zynoviy Antoniuk?

V.V.Smohytel: Right. When Zinoviy Antoniuk was tried, I came… One such, I do not know him, answered the door and said, "What do you want?" I said, "I want to see Veresa, I need to talk to Veresa. (Veresa was the wife of Zynoviy Antoniuk.--Ed.) She’s in the courtroom, can you call her out?" This was there where all of us were tried. He said, "Go away, now, we’ll soon give you what-for!” You know, for the first time I felt they would get me. They knocked me down. I was walking down the street, they knocked me down, threw into a car and said, "Well, now what?" The hearing was underway: “Without any reason, out of a hooligan motive he struck with his right hand…” They gave me three years. When they brought me after the gearing to the Lukianivska jail and left there, someone took the papers and went, and I was left alone. As I remained alone I began singing for the whole jail to hear: "Hey, on the highland the wind is blowing. Hey!" A major came and said: "Convict Smohytel,” he told in Ukrainian “what are you so joyful about?" I said, “You know, I heard that Felix Dzerzhinskiy used to convene an anti-Soviet meeting and then caught the participants in the act, I’ve heard a lot, but today I’ve seen that the whole state, the whole state apparatus testified against me, and the court… there was no fair trial there, nothing at all, nothing but lies. So you are walking down the street and read reading: "All men are friends, comrades and brothers" though it’s a pack of lies, your salary is a lie! The doctrine of Marx is the best in the world… everything is a lie! I saw it today with my own eyes and I assert it; these are nobody’s words but mine.” 

How about the trial? Before the trial a KGB officer approached me, a youngster: "I'll be your lawyer.” I said: "I know my case better than anyone.”—“I know your case exactly as you know it." He was a smiling, tall, athletic, and smart fellow. I hesitated a bit, but then refused, saying: "No, I do not need you." He popped up just a minute or two or thirty seconds before the hearing, “I'll be your lawyer.”

I told the major: "Everything is a lie. I’ve seen it today." He said, "You know what, you really quit singing because you will only make it worse.”—“What could be worse?" He said, "I’ve been working here for thirty years now. In prison it could be worse, worse, worse and worse again, the situation may worsen endlessly. I just advise you.” Such conversation took place then.

When I got out of prison, my mother says, "You, my boy, try and run away wherever your feet will carry you, maybe to America--it was already perestroika--because when you went to prison, you were not so angry, and you came out of prison a hundred times angrier and more aggressive. They will jail you for the second time, and will not release then. They intended to scare you…” And this is the will of my mother: “If you love your Ukraine, you’d better love it over there; you might be able to do for Ukraine over there, while they will kill you.” Well, nobody might know that the Union would collapse. So I emigrated…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Just wait. You’ve told about your criminal case too briefly and hintingly, while this is the most important event as well as its circumstances. How was it fabricated?

V.V.Smohytel: All charges were trumped up. 'm gonna put it on the line. My wife and I were at home. A man knocked at the door: "I'm a doctor.”—“Hello, can I help you?”—“I want to conduct routine inspection of your child for smallpox.” I said: "Our child is at school." The presence of smallpox. His name was Petro. Very good command of Ukrainian, tall. We told him that our child is at school, but we can wait, and let's drink tea in the meantime. Well, we drank tea and he said: "I have a sister living in Austria" and so on. He said at parting: "I'm checking children for smallpox in your apartment house, I am an emergency doctor. I will come to you later." The moment he walked out the door, I said, "Halyna, wait a minute." On the third storey of our mid-rise building lived a boy of the same age as our son Volodymyr. I asked: “Did a doctor visit you?”—“No, he did not." Oops! I returned and said, "Halyna, we are on tenterhooks." He came to us once again "Oh, I can get you buckwheat in unlimited quantities" and so on. And I said, "You know, I was driven into emigration. I cannot do anything, I am jobless" We had to shoot a documentary about Nina Matviyenko and we concluded a contract… oops, it was easier said than done. Was it after prison? Wait, no, it happened before my imprisonment… He frequented our apartment. I said: "Halyna, something is hanging up in the air."

On December 12 there had to be a concert dedicated to Leontovych at the Opera House. On the 13th this doctor came when Mykola Vorobyov and I were sitting and talking. He came on the 13th and said, "Hey, you said you were going to the concert.”—“Yeah, I was at the concert.”—“Well, tell me. Here,” he said “I’ve got some wine for you and brandy for myself." But I saw, and I had already shared my suspicions with my wife, that he was 100%…” Well,” I said, “let it be.”

Of course, today I would shut the door and all. All of it rained thick upon me. But they could do it differently, perhaps… But this was preceded by as follows. At Livoberezna Station a night café was opened, working hours till 02 a.m. It was called Chervona Ruta or something like it. And he suggested: "Let's go there without your wife." We took seats but two seats remained vacant. I realized that two chicks might come yet. We were drink, two babes came up, we spoke to them a minute. They mentioned Mokryk and I said, "I know Mokryk." Mokryk was the chief pediatrician of Ukraine. I knew him because my cousin was the chief surgeon of Ternopil Oblast, he drove me to this Mokryk. So we entered into conversation with these babes and continued drinking. And then the dancing began, he said: "Which on do you choose this one with a braid, or that one?" Well, we danced. Then at half past one it was time to leave, and this one asked, "Will you see me home?”—“Yeah, sure". We climbed the stairs--she lived nearby--and she said, "Oh, I can brew tea for you," she told it in Halychyna vernacular or in Polish. I agreed, "Well, let it be.”—“I’ll be right back,” she was in such a transparent negligee, “I'll be back." She opened the door and I saw then if not thousands, then hundreds of various bottles, perfumes. It must have cost a packet. Well, she went to the bath, and I quietly opened the door and quietly walked down, so that elevator made no noise. It was the seventh storey.

The next day Petro called me: "Well, how did it go?" That would have given me not three but seven or ten years…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: For rape.

V.V.Smohytel: Right, for rape. If only I went to bed with her, a man would broke in, she would cry, scratched herself badly… Petro asked me, "Well, how did it go?”—“Ah,” I answered, “It was cool. She is such a good girl!” Why do I say this? I knew 1,000% who was this Petro. And then he brought us this smelly wine and a brandy for himself because “I have a hepatic disease.” So to what do we drink? We drank, well, to Leontovych, as it comes, I do not remember to what we drank. I said, "Oh, you know, I’ve forgotten about the knife." Or the fork, or there was a need to bring something from the kitchen. I took it this way and did not swallow, only rinsed out, and returned running with this or that. And we continued to get high. "Well, what do we drink to?" That took place three times. Suddenly he took the phone—we had the phone close at hand—called somebody and said something. I thought it was just… "Come on, I need to go, I was told that have to call my sister in Austria, I need to get to the public call office, see me out please." The central public call office was on Khreshchatyk Street. Well, Mykola was quickly getting ready to go and I said, "I will not go, no chance.”—“No, we will go out together.” He was really enticing me to go out! "Accompany me, please, and tell me about Leontovych, it's so interesting, and we’ve just started.”—“No," I refused repeatedly. But I think: that's interesting, how will it come off? And I went, took on my parka lined with fur but didn’t button it, although it was cold. Thank God I took this parka and slipped it over. We went down to Franko Street. The situation was as follows: the drugstore here and there was Lenin Street, and down there the Opera House was located. I said, "Well, I will not go further. I will not go." And he said: "Well, I will proceed to the public telephone office."[10] He crossed the Lenin Street, which is now Khmelnytsky Street, and headed to the Shevchenko Boulevard. I wanted to shout him, "Hey, sob, the public telephone office is over there, or you must go down to the Khreshchatyk Street. In fact, this way there is no public telephone office but the Botanic Garden." And Mykola crossed the street and went to the subway station "Universytet", it seems, he went down the Pirogov Street. He went to the “Universytet” Subway Station because he lived in Voskresenka microdistrict. I was very angry and I was walking with a stooped head. It was cold, biting frost, and the streets were deserted. All of a sudden I saw legs in front of me and I jumped aside. Once again I saw legs in front of me. I jump aside and the legs followed me. A stranger shouldered me and forced me to my knees: "For what did you struck me?" I asked, "Did I hit you? I didn’t beat you." And then eight people popped up and white Volga car: "Why this brawl?" They grabbed me by my hands and legs and showed into the car, "Well, how do you like it?"

I will never forgive it! This very moment! I know there is a God, and as there is God, we will improve the document. I wrote from America to Kravchuk and Lutsenko. Both of them told me that the case was destroyed. (The criminal cases were indeed destroyed after 15 years.--Ed.). All the same I have all sentences and their addresses. I do not want anything: I want retrial, let them talk. It was a seizure party, let them tell for whom they worked. And who are they now? Well, someone died, but someone is still alive.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: About seven people were mentioned there.

V.V.Smohytel: Right. I remember that there were: Major Siryk from the Zhovtnevy Militia Station, one such Romanova, Ivanov… oh, skunk, fascist… One such Khatsiur… Sure thing… Otherwise what for did we make this state? To keep silent? 

V.V.Ovsiyenko: You name eight of them over here (See: "Public Request" at the end of the interview.--Ed.).

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, yes. All of them were recorded as witnesses. Their address… I have all docs and let them stop fooling me that everything was destroyed. Moreover, I want to go to the SSU and say that they destroyed this case, that this was their doing, that you destroyed, and what are you indeed: KGB or SSU? Because if you do not want to review the case, you are not SSU but KGB, a KGB department. If you are SSU, please find the perpetrators. It was a seizure party, I'm normal, I know it for sure.

Now, the most interesting thing follows. When they arrested me, they immediately took me to the center to check for alcohol consumption. She measured something there, I breathed, she drew a blood sample and then said: "Walk along this line, please". Well, I walked along the line there, walked and sat down. They were one hundred percent convinced that the test would show that I drank. Well, I did drink, right?

And they took me to a cell… This one Romanova, the first investigator… Romanova was a vile woman, a profligate person. There was severe frost in the cell at night, the window pane was broken out. Somewhere at 3:00 a.m. this Romanova broke into my cell: "Let’s go for examination. The previous test was falsy.” All of them knew everything, they didn’t even run their eyes over expert appraisal, but at o’clock in the early hours one of them looked into it. The expert appraisal showed that I could defend myself. Someone called and they led me, and I said, "I won’t go." She: " We shall judge you for resistance to authorities.”—“Well,” I said, “I'll go, but only before my very eyes you draw a blood sample and in my presence we pass over the test tube." And we went. They drew a blood sample, took the test tube and pushed me out of the institute. I started screaming like hell! I shouted that when I return I will shoot down you all, I will kill you, I will hang you all, skunks! We’ve agreed that you only draw a blood sample while you’re going to test another sample. I want you to do a blood test in my presence, I do it and show it to me. It doesn’t need a lot of time. It won’t take you 48 hours. I did not drink wine and this threw them into confusion. And he saw that I was drinking! I knew already that it was his handiwork…

This was the prehistory of it. Not a prehistory but a real story. And so they jailed me. In jail it was my first time to enter the cell…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where were you kept? At Lukyanivka prison?

V.V.Smohytel: Right, at Lukyanivka. During the first three days I was not at Lukyanivka. For three days they kept me at… Wait a minute, I'll tell you…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: In the remand center?

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, yes. This was called the preventive-detention cell. The remand center. This preventive-detention cell was located… Now I’ll tell you. Like we were going to Stus up the avenue to Sviatoshyn, turn to the right, there was Zhovtnevy District militia station. It was located not far from Antonov aircraft factory. There I spent three days. But three days later they brought me to the jail. No, not there. There I spent the first night. On the second night they sent me to the place where they tried Antoniuk, down to the basement. (Apparently, this was Kyiv Municipal Court, 6, Volodymyrska Street, near the Sofia Square.--Ed.). There I spent three days. There I met a young man. I told him everything as it was. He said: "You will get minimum of three years. Minimum of three years." He advised me how to behave in jail. When they will undress you, you do not yield and fight. "Well,” I said, “how can I fight, if there is so many of them?”—“All the same you just fight, they will beat, and some guys will look. And maybe they will admit you to a “family” as a “good boy”, I mean. Do not give them anything." He taught me very good lessons. It was simply a lucky chance. I stayed there for three days, maybe two, I do not know, from this preventive-detention cell they transported me to the jail. In prison, in the cell I’d just entered: “Let’s take a few drags…” It had something to deal with marijuana. I said, "I've never dragged such a shit at large…” Now I know that if I’d taken it, they would have immediately caught me in the act: "Drugs." One cannot be too careful. I really did not want it. I thought why use it in jail of I made do without it before? I refused without any ulterior thoughts.

My mother hired me a lawyer. The lawyer--lean and tiny old man--came. When I started reading the case (I was allowed to read the case): Jesus Christ, they made a point!… I still have all copies. I brought it out in the heel of a shoe. I made a hiding place in the heel of the shoe. I’ve got extracts. Look, if a doochie said that I had hit him and immediately jumped up and asked: "What for did you hit me?", the driver of Volga said: "I was driving my Volga and suddenly I saw a man lying on the ground and screaming for help, but I could run over his legs.” I have all of it here. I thought I would be set free in the courtroom. For this one said I immediately jumped up and that one said that he had seen me lying. So if one of them tells the truth, another one is lying, right? And if this one tells the truth that he saw a man lying and screaming for help, then that one is lying. Next. That he was wearing glasses… I’ve got all these extracts from the case if they did destroy it. And the expert examination can confirm that it was written twenty or thirty years ago. It is very easy to establish. So if I had hit him with the right hand and he wore glasses, I could have broken his glasses. I wanted to ask him first, "Do you make material claims on me? Well, if I did hit you so hard that you fell, then maybe I broke your expensive glasses?" I had it all. I thought I would be set free in the courtroom. They asked me: "The defendant, will you say something?" I said, "I will not, I will speak as a lawyer, I do not consider myself an accused." This was a mistake. I had to speak out immediately after their question. Perhaps, they would have not allowed all the same. And suddenly I saw that the secretary had stopped taking down notes. I asked the judge: "Why the record is not kept?”—“And you go on talking, fascist, go on talking.”—“Well,” I said, “what I should be talking about…”—“Anyway go on talking." And that’s that, they went and gave me three years. I asked: "And what about the counsel for the defense?”—“We allowed you to speak, and you refused.”—“Yes,” I said, “you allowed me to speak as the defendant, and as the defendant I had nothing to tell you, it is like a three-ring circus." I wanted to put these questions to the witness: how could he see that he was lying and screaming for help, when the other witness maintained that the person immediately jumped up and asked? And what did they expect? I'll tell you now. They expected that I would be drunk, and that’s that and none in this would read it. And they wrote down a lot of rubbish. They expected that no one would read it, right? But I knew that all this was in my file and I kept mum about it. My mother hired me a lawyer. This lawyer said… Well, I went on hunger strike, for 29 days I went without food, I lost more than twenty-seven kilograms, you know, I did not have a morsel of food and drank only water. And they said to me: “Can you go?” I said, "Yes, I can." They brought him in. The lawyer said, "You know, I have read your case very attentively and to my mind you are outside the scope of article 206, part 3, but inside the scope of article 198” or something like it. And I asked again, "Have you read it carefully?”—“Very carefully”. I did not want to tell it him aloud, because they could overhear and fix it, but I jotted down all of it for myself. I told him: "Give me a piece of paper, please." He gave, I wrote on it and I said, "Thank you. If you see there not 206, but 193, then you—I told him--did not read the file carefully. Thank you, I discontinue your services." He: "Well, you are wrong to think so…” I said, "Goodbye for now, take me out of here."

V.V.Ovsiyenko: And what about article 193?

V.V.Smohytel: I do not know, there was some other article there.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: I have a code, I can find it out.

V.V.Smohytel: He told me about another article, one hundred something… Why are they all guilty? Here, for example, when you read "he dealt a blow," the supervising prosecutor, a senior adviser, writes down "he dealt two blows." Look here: "dealt Shcherban two blows”. Tsuprenko should be brought to trial for this. ** (See: Tsuprenko’s response at the end of the interview.--Ed.).

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Tsuprenko? Oh, Tsuprenko passed judgment on me as well, by the way, in 1973.

V.V.Smohytel: Oh, that’s him, he was an expert on us. I will be his judge in the next world as well. 

V.V.Ovsiyenko: He died in 1993.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes? All the same. He was a beast. You see here: "two blows" to make it worse, you know. If all docs mention a blow, why do you write…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: To make it look like a fight. To make it look like an intended act…

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, but this wasn’t true: he invented the whole story. Did not he know that? Why did you write "two blows"? He knew, he knew. If he didn’t know he would copy the text and that’s that. And not all of them are dead. It’s a question of principle. Therefore I refused the counselor.

I survived in jail thanks to this guy, who gave a tip that I should fight back. And there was a case like that when a guy came up to hit me, and I grabbed a bowl on top of the growler and said: "I am not afraid, I'll just kill you with this bowl. The moment you try and touch me… I will not be the first to beat you.” And he went to bed. I think that those sitting on top of the world set him against me. I hurled this bowl across the cell and everybody in Lukyanivka jail might hear it. It was an aluminum bowl. I hurled it and he was afraid. With the help of a mug attached to the wall they spread the info to the neighboring cells that the “Teacher can kill”; the Teacher was my moniker. This was the greatest praise there. And nobody touched me. And I really would have killed him, and let them shoot me afterwards. He came: "Why this ado…". And just waved his hand in front of my nose… I asked: “Is that all?" In the jail, I also spoke Ukrainian. “Is that all?” And he said: “I simply do not want to jump now." And I said, "I am not afraid. If you touch me, I’ll press this bowl into you. All of it”. He like a pig quietly went away. And, you know, the inmates watched the show… I hurled the bowl across the cell and also quitted. And they touched me no more. Such was the advice of a young convict in the preventive-detention cell on Bohdan Khmelnytsky Square. He said that he head three or four falls already, young, 26 years, all his life he did jail terms. He taught me that I must defend myself.

So they tried me and sent me to the zone.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where did they send you?

V.V.Smohytel: They sent me to Stara Zburivka, Kherson Oblast. The seventh zone, the zone number seven. Only later I came to know what unlimited lawlessness zone meant… Well, as a former prisoner you know what savage terror and tyranny among imprisoned criminals mean. The blues-and-twos do what they want to. They brought a political prisoner there. Meanwhile there is a terrible atmosphere. When I had done there eighteen months, about twenty-five officers summoned me to make me plead guilty. To be perfectly frank, I have a suspicion concerning the late Chornovil. I know that no one can be released even two hours before the time but Chornovil was released, you know? Well, they could set me free. Here’s how they fixed it. “Step forward." I came to the mid-room. "Well, you can see for yourselves, here’s the conservatory, here’s the composer, well, you ain’t God knows who, oh! come, come! Let us know that it did take place."

V.V.Ovsiyenko: It is called the early parole commission.

V.V.Smohytel: Right! That’s it.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: If you’ve done half of the term and they may release you on parole.

V.V.Smohytel: If I had said that I had been guilty, they would have released me in a week or the next day. But I did not like the idea. What did I tell them? This Shmahel, the local chief, boss of the zone, said: “Skip it; pack it in! Say yes at long last! You don’t need to stay with these tramps!" And I told him, “chief citizen - say - if I were 25 years old or if I were sentenced to be shot, and not three years, I would not say I beat him all the same. I beat nobody, I had no motive. Either I am a madhouse client or you. Think for yourself: a man is walking down the street and a casual passerby administers a blow or no reason on earth. Or maybe someone sent someone somewhere, or looked wrong for that matter. It can not happen out of the blue. If I had hit him, I would have said yes, I did hit him. In fact, he headed for trouble, but I did not hit. I should have smashed his head. But I did not hit him, I did not touch him, you know? Even if I were sentenced to 25-year term or if I were sentenced to be shot I did not beat him all the same!” He then said: “Go and do your term."

V.V.Ovsiyenko: I was in such a situation too. I, too, was accused that I tore two buttons off the uniform of a militiaman. I also was kept in jail. And I also underwent the procedure of release on parole.

V.V.Smohytel: Now, I was telling you about Chornovil: both times he was released before time. I cheated a bit: they arrested me on the thirteenth at 0700 p.m. and released on the thirteenth but at 1100 a.m.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: They granted you with a few hours.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, I gained a few hours. Then, when Chornovil was still alive, I remembered myself that he was twice released prematurely. Nobody was released from jail for nothing, as sure as eggs is eggs.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Well, then, in 1967, the amnesty was announced, and as he was the first-timer his summary time was halved.

V.V.Smohytel: (sighs). Yes, it might cause me to wonder if there were not a second instance. I know that in the zone an English teacher spied on me… After work we took a promenade about the zone. I told him about this, and he began to cry. He kept walking with me for six months and was released afterwards. He was simply walking with me. Maybe he was caught red-handed as speculator in dollars and then sent to me. I was telling him this, and he could not tell me to stop telling this.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Maybe he had pricks of conscience.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, his conscience worried him and he was crying. And as in no time he was realized it came home to me why he was crying.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: What were the conditions of detention there?

V.V.Smohytel: The conditions were terrible. Say, I wanted to learn English. I was not permitted to subscribe either to Moscow News, or a dictionary. You also may know that when you work for an employer there, you get only half of your earnings on the nail. Once I stood in line to a kiosk having no money about me! I say, “What do you mean by no money? I have been working for a year now”—“You’ve got no money, you passed from one detachment to another.”—“So what? I worked every day. I will stay off the job now." They shut me in a disciplinary cell. This happened in winter, the windows were broken, in a decade or so I coughed up blood. He slept on these benches - are these metal bands. There I above. I have over twenty minutes, apparently woke up because of the vibration of the body. I slept on a metal bed: a bed made of metal bands. I was on the upper bunk. In twenty minutes or so awakened because my bunk was vibrating. For the day the bunks are folded and at night they are unfolded and rest on two columns. During the day I used to sit on such a column. I was one such inmate; there were no other beds in the cell, only upper bunks and no lower bunks; and ten days in a row I did exercises at night. The window was broken, and subzero temperature was outdoors.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were you taken out to work?

V.V.Smohytel: They did not take me away to work, because I had said that I would stay off the job. I did tell them that if they would not pay I would not come to work.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: And their meals consist of one hot dish per two days. And 400 g of bread daily.

V.V.Smohytel: Right. But when I came out, the crims spread a towel for me. I went out, the major, the detachment chief, led me to the kiosk and they issued me food and goods. They found money and I bought something there. So when I returned, I walked on a white towel for my standing ground.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: So that’s how it is!

V.V.Smohytel: However, while I stayed in the punishment cell the prisoners stole my quilted coat all the same. I returned to me cell and found no quilted coat… they had already altered and made it over. There's no way around it… In fact, they treated me badly. They transferred me to a construction gang to carry a barrow. My life was saved due to the fact that I had hemorrhoids, and I simply refused, saying I cannot carry a barrow. The doctors came to verify. This barrow carrying was the most terrible job there.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Were there any jobs going?

V.V.Smohytel: We were making metal traps there. There were presses and various components for traps. We put together raps there. There were also high voltage ceramic insulators for high voltage lines… The crimes smashed them and used the fragments to shave, because these fragments were very sharp. They smashed and shaved. They manufactured presses, high-voltage insulators and string shopping bags. They took the old military parachutes, unstitched the seams… The measured daywork made twelve string shopping bags. Or on presses. But some inmates worked in technical control division and checked the output. They made three shifts, we spent the whole night long on our feet, our feet were sore, and we could not sit.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: And then you cannot sleep because of these shift changes.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes. Then criminals may kill. This is hell. When I went to the night shift, these torches were lit, presses stamped all sorts of springs: it was a kind of dungeon.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Such conditions were created fro the musician…

V.V.Smohytel: Right you are. And then there was this issue of barrows. I said that I would not carry a barrow, after work I went to the hospital, I did not carry barrows. Then, when I served my term and the doctors said that I had hemorrhoids and therefore I just could not carry because of hemorrhage; they transferred me to the detachment manufacturing string shopping bags. In the string shopping bag detachment there was a thug with a moniker Odesa. He says, "Well, as you have been doing two years now, then you sit at the end of the table. I'm sitting here, and Odesa, the criminal old-timer, in front of me, and Marik will sit here. And this Odesa said: “Listen, you stand up and Marik will take your seat.” I already knew that such was the rule of protection. I still had six months to do and this was a taunt. They intended to jam-up me and sentence to a new term. I retorted, “He won’t sit.” Well, in that case I had to grab the ladle and beat him on his head, but I understood that this was their plan and so I calmly said: “He won’t sit.”—“He will.”—“He won’t.”—“He will, Teacher.” I said, "He won’t, Odesa.”—“He will.”—“He won’t." I did not get up, Odesa did not start fighting. We ate and went away. I said, "Odesa, let us talk.”—“Let's go." So we sat down. There was a stool with only three legs; they were reinforcement rods welded together, high enough to make string shopping bags. I thought I would just kill him with this stool. I sat down near the stool, and he was twice bigger than me, I mean Odesa. He worked at the slaughterhouse in Henichesk. Once I even wanted to go to Henichesk to see him. Well, listen, I told him: “Odesa, so let's arrange that you are specializing in stealing here, while I like am a political prisoner. Odesa, take notice, if their work-up succeeds with this trickery of yours and I get additional term, they’ll find you in the world beyond as well. They won’t just kill you, they’ll torture you to death. I am not one man in the field”. Well, in fact, I was by myself, but I had to undertake something… I said: “They’ll torture you to death and then shit and piss on your grave. I am explaining as simply as possible: Odesa, you stop poking your nose in other people's affairs! Got it? I will quietly go out and you will live safely. Otherwise they’ll find your family and butcher your family and everybody, if you peddle my papers. Try and sit meek and mild with your Marek. I will not change my seat, I'll stay here, I was sitting in front of you and I will stay. But if you start showing off and they corner me, you will be called to account. You won’t stay in jail forever, you will go out, and you will be totally fucked.” And you know what? My words sank in, we went. When it was already 5 or 6 p.m., close of business, we went from the industrial area to the residential area. I entered the barrack quaking with fear.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: I should think so! 

V.V.Smohytel: I talked nineteen to the dozen and criminal Odesa was already lying on his bunk in the barrack, “Teacher, look what time it is, be so kind.” And there was a wall clock driven by weights. “Six p.m.”—“Many thanks.” Thus, Odesa was more scared than I. That’s how I got out of a scrape. Well, there was one more crank. Sherman. He also came to participate in the scheme. He came to the jail, stayed there for three months and left. He took my address or something else. He went to Zhmerynka and told my mother, "Mariya Oleksiyivna, I did my term with Vadik, your son, he is a good guy, you know, I may help you, you have a granddaughter, I may buy oranges." My mom asked, "How much?”—“Any sum you like”. Well, she borrowed somewhere one hundred karbovanetses, and gave him. Sherman vanished into thin air. The second series. Sherman arrived in Kyiv to my Halyna: "Here I did my term with your husband, I may buy oranges for your son." She asked: “How much?”—“Any sum you like." she also gave him some money. Sherman vanished into thin air. Well, they wrote me and asked why I gave addresses, a character came… Two months passed by and Sherman reappeared in the zone. So, what was their design? That I wouldn’t forgive Sherman… You see? But I am a sly dog. But I do not want to wear leading strings and I wouldn’t blow my cool, and I understand who Sherman is. Sherman came and everybody thought I would give him a good dressing down. And in everybody’s presence I said, "Sherman I treated you as an intelligent person, and looked like one. How come you became a shit? You look in the glass and see shit. You know, I would not soil my hands with you, you’re worse than a sodomite.” He turned and left. And they took Sherman away in a week.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: They didn’t need him anymore.

V.V.Smohytel: The trick didn’t work. You asked how…? That’s the way it was. Only once it came to blows. The haircut there looked like… You have to get a haircutting machine. Someone told me: “Listen, a roll-call will be in the evening, you need to cut your hair, let the depo man give you a clipper. He has this machine and you quickly…”. Well, I asked the depo man: "Listen, gimme a clipper, the guys will cut my hair." And he said: “Fuck off…” Well, I lived among criminals and it was considered very offensive. I went behind the counter again and kick him with my feet in the chest. He flew and rammed into these bars. I thought I killed him. I said: “Hey, skunk, I have been doing my term for almost three years now, and nobody has ever sent me off yet….” And he fell. After the roll-call--and they lived in families--the family threw me a challenge: "Let’s go to the depo: there is a talk.” I told them straight away: "Guys, I won’t scuffle with you, but if you start, I will fight back. But tell him that I do not deserve to be sent off in the presence of inmates. I believe that I beat him rightly enough for him to know his stall.” Upon these words they turned and went out. I’ve retold you several episodes only. There were a lot of them. There was another Semite, Borys Brodsky, he was the drummer, graduated from Kherson School of Music. As a rule there packages were allowed every six months, and I asked for butter and honey. My mother sent me. My heart was sore, and I believed that it would suffice to smear butter on bread for tea for two months. Borys tucked this supply away during one evening. And I asked: “Borys, what is the matter with you?” And he said: “Vadym, Vadym, I want to die and know that I ate my fill at least once. I don’t want to eat it one time a day at tea time, I want to know that once I made a feast of it.” And that’s that.

How I was released? The time was ripe. I made a hollow in the heel and shoved those documents into it. They even examined my ass and everywhere, but did not guess to examine my heels. So, nobody gave me away. I was met by my mother and mother of Borys Brodsky, with whom I ate butter. Maybe I was also met by… oh, whatshername… Hook, Hook.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Lidiya Hook? she lived In Skadovsk.

V.V.Smohytel: Right, in Skadovsk. Three women met me. My mother, listen… You don't know whether to laugh or cry. The grief-stricken face of my mother looked like cut with ax. I laughed and said, "Mom, my face had to look like yours while you should be proud instead.” She: "There is nothing to be proud of when you are in jail. If I knew you would be arrested, you'd better join the army. This is the sort of army they’ve reserved for you.” I was surprised that my mother was so crushed. I’ve forgotten to say that they brought my wife by air to prison to make me admit guilt. She didn’t take off her clothes and kept sitting all night, but I said that I would not write. She was going down the street, when they apprehended her, put her on board a plane and brought to Kherson and drove to this stupid Zburivka. I was on night shift, and they told me I had a visitor. Of course, Halyna was very disappointed. She was brought to me to just make me say that I did hit a guy and all. And that's it. I thought that my mother would not be so crushed by this grief. I still think that even if my child had suffered for a good cause, I would had never blamed her or him.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did you have visits all the same?

V.V.Smohytel: Yeah, I did.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: With Halyna, right? And not with your mother?

V.V.Smohytel: No, my mother also visited me. There was this first visit. The KGB officer from Kherson talked with her before the visit and said: “You know the, If he were only nationalist, but he was anti-Soviet. He worked at the institute an d told his co-workers about the “stillborn state, stillborn state”, that “the Americans invented jeans, invented jazz, and the Soviet Union invented songs about the party, which nobody sings.” How can we treat or tolerate him?” My mother said, "Why did not you jail him as an anti-Soviet? What do you threw him among these criminals?" And I asked the mother: “What did he reply?”—“And he,” she said, “lowered his head, became bloodshot, paused for a minute, and forced himself to speak: go on.” That's all.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: What was the formal mode of security? Low security?

V.V.Smohytel: Low security, like for the rest of down-and-outs. The scarce visits were permitted. They denied the visits if you overslept or didn’t get enough sleep. Once I had a cerebral hemorrhage. I was sleeping on the upper bunk and felt that my head became like a drop of blood. I little by little climbed down, went and took a painkiller. I started jogging every morning. Two and a half years, I first got up at five o'clock, and then at five and kept jogging two hours, and in winter as well. When I lived in America, one woman with extrasensory perception came and checked me. She said, "You know you are a lucky person?”—“Why?”—“You will not suffer long, because you had cerebral hemorrhage in the past." I had forgotten about the incident, and then I remembered about it. 

They ignored my requests to call the prosecutor on supervision. For example there was an incident still in jail: “for no reason with hooligan motives.” I kind of know Russian language, but motivation means also a reason. Well, what did they mean by motives? This wording means that "for no reason with reasons” or what? I say: “Give me the Dahl’s dictionary, I do not understand what this phrase-mongering means.” They did not give me the dictionary. I went on a hunger strike, 29 days I did not eat, and I might be dead. I'll tell you now how I started eating. “Give me a dictionary, I want to know, I do not know how to translate Russian «побуждение», I do not know what it is. I want to translate it into my native tongue and understand what you have written here.” I said that I stop eating. And I would not have eaten and I would have died, but don't make promises you can't keep. They brought me a parcel. And this girl-deliverer asked me: "Can you still go?" I said, "Yep." And this girl said, "Well, you go there and take warm clothes, take a look at least." On the twenty-ninth day I could barely walk leaning against the wall. They gavaged me through a tube… it's sheer madness. I walked leaning against the wall, drank only water and administered an enema. I made a kapron enema and washed my stomach. I drank water. I reached there and saw a basket and five big beautiful red apples in it. And I thought to myself: “Why should I die for these assholes.” I said: "Give me a sheet of paper." She gave a sheet of paper and I wrote: “I stop a hunger-strike”. And I began eating this apple. And my heart started so oh… I'll tell you now how it is. It feels like concrete. And when on the twenty ninth day I took this apple and began to suck—in two minutes this concrete so… lets it go at once. Such a nice feeling, an infinitely beautiful feeling. So I got out of my hunger-strike.

They immediately transferred me to the condemned cell. An inmate came and engaged me in talk about Mykola Plakhotniuk who was in this prison. “Did you know Mykola Plakhotniuk?”—“Yes, I did,” I said. “And what did he like to smoke: standard or tsyharka cigarettes?”—I answered: “He wasn’t a smoker. Maybe he started smoking in jail, but he had never smoked before, he was a doctor. I do not think that he started smoking.”—“Well, then I'll believe you." He said: "The more I tell people, the blacker look my things." I do not remember his name. Simply the condemned cell. And this one came up to me, but it was kinda… I have not seen… a figure in wax, you know. His hands were all yellow like the church wax. This is terrible. He came up and asked: “Who are you?". [Recording failure]. He had yellow hands. He came and inquired, and I told him about myself and then asked: "And what about you?” He said: "I will not tell." I said: "Then do not tell me anything, but why?" He said: “I do not tell people anything. The more I tell people, the blacker look my things.”—I asked: “Maybe you can tell where you were doing your term? You didn’t stay here all the time, or did you?” He said: “I served my term in a loony bin in Dnipropetrovsk.” I said, "I know a mental home in Dnipropetrovsk, because I carried there…” Once I brought there a pail of cherries for Plakhotniuk. I found him there and spoke with the head of the psychiatric hospital. Such a man of small stature with a mustache, the chief. I asked him to permit me to see Plakhotniuk. He refused, but said, "I cannot allow you to visit him, but I can let you to pass him anything you like." I said, "Please, you ask him what Plakhotniuk wants, then I will bring it. I do not know what he wants.” Twenty minutes later they found him, and Mykola said he wanted cherries. And I brought cherries. Well, now this prisoner said, “I know Plakhotniuk very well.”—“Well,” I said, “it’s cool.”—“But what did he like to smoke: standard or tsyharka cigarettes?” I said, “He never smoked. Maybe he started smoking there, but he had never smoked before, he was a doctor and what it’s worth.”—“Well,” he said, “now I can believe you. In fact, he did not smoke, I wanted to test you." So it was.

When I was later transferred from the condemned cell to another cell, I was robbed: they stole my package. I have not eaten all apples yet. Once I wrote an application I was immediately transferred. There were some dried crusts that my mother sent me. They stole this package as well. In the middle of the night I broke open the door and said: "I do not want to live with convicts who rob their cellmates.” They opened the door for me, the jailer went in search of a cell. Lo and behold: my card was there! He pulled it out and left. While he was away, I read this card. Well, “Smohytel Vadym Volodymyrovych" and the hand written text in black ink at the top of the card: “Inclined to anti-Soviet insinuations." I quote it verbatim. That's for sure. It isn’t a malarkey. Then the jailer returned: "Well, Let’s go to the cell." And he took this card. He simply pulled it out and had no time to read it, and now he look at it, read… oops! He was about to turn me back, but apparently he was enjoined by conscience from doing it. In the cell they gathered the bunch of tramps and shoved me there. And this jailer had not read the card in advance and therefore he led me to a normal cell where I stayed up to the transportation. All this is now a matter of days long past.

I was released. Was released. And then that movie about Nina Matviyenko… They gave me six months of house arrest in Zhmerynka so that I would not get up and go away.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Administrative surveillance.

V.V.Smohytel: Surveillance, right. And when I had to go and see my son in Kyiv, I had to go to the KGB officer in  Zhmerynka and ask for permission. From time to time I came to renew the recognizance not to leave and we conversed with him. This KGB officer said to me: "I'm not Russian, I'm from Volga Region." He said he was either Koryak or Udmurt. “Well, tell me about your nationalism and what is your grievance” I said, “Well, I’ll tell you.” He said, “I know that in Zhmerynka 97 percent of population are Ukrainians. Maybe two percent of Russians, Jews, maybe one percent Gypsies and that’s that. Tell me what is your grievance? I just want to know." I said: "Well, I’ll tell you. Look here, in Zhmerynka the residents are ninety seven percent, almost one hundred percent Ukrainians. One hundred percent of Ukrainians have ten schools. Of these, eight Russian and two Ukrainian schools. You understand?”—“Well, good, do you want to go to in Kyiv? Good, I allow you, go, only bring me Pepsi-Cola for my child.” And he fell silent. I just explained him what was my grievance: eight Russian-language schools per ninety-seven percent of the Ukrainian population. And that’s all.

When supervision routine came to an end, I went in Kyiv and met Nina Matviyenko again. There had to be a movie about her, and she showed me recordings of Stankovych and Kiva. At the same time Nina and I recorded songs… There existed Yavdokha Zuyikha. She lived[11] and died in Vinnytsia Oblast. I want to go to her village. Hnat Tantsiura (it is written that he died in 1937, but I think he was shot in 1937)[12] recorded songs from this woman during twelve years. He used to say that he checked out some songs in her interpretation three years later and she sang them in the same key. It was an encyclopedia. I found such songs. I said: "Nino, let us enliven them, give them a second lifetime." At the time the chorus “Dudaryk” performed with Symphony Orchestra in Lviv. And there was a critic—whatshisname--who told Nina: "They are singing Bach’s works in Lviv, but in Germany they sing Bach better, you will not sing Bach at the same level as in Germany. But you record a LP: Nina Matviyenko, Symphony orchestra, chorus and, say, Yavdokha Zuyiha, heh? Oh, this may become an event in the art world!” So Nina told me: “Vadym, try and write." I composed the first one: "Oh, my brother eagle", a child's play. Dear Mr. Vasyl, this sample is better then all children's games in the world. When I had a look at music I didn't believe it was a creation of child's intellect. Only children sing there: "Oh my brother eagle, you're flying high and you're seeing a lot, did you happen to see my sheep?" Together they make a circle: "Oh byr-byr-byr," they sing imitating sheep. And then the eagle: "And how do your sheep look like?”—“My rams are horned and sheep are shaggy, my dogs toothy.” Again eagle: "They are over there, go and pen them." And again they make a circle, "Oh, byr-byr-byr”. It’s real cool! A creation of child's intellect! It's fun for children. So I did not amend the upper voice, by intentional design, and arranged it for chorus and orchestra. I sent it to conductor of the chorus Mykola Lukych Katsala, and he called me: "It is easier to sing Bach, you’ve made it too complicated.”—“Well, then sing Bach," I said and hung up. Well, after all, they learned it. They had learned it and performed in the Lviv Organ Hall. They thought it was Western Ukraine, but it was Vinnytsia area, the sheep were also bred there. And so the things sorted themselves out.

Then I made for Nina “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe", Nina brought me this song. But it was a wedding song with the words as follows "don’t stand apart, take up the call, we’re but scarce remains.” I said, “Nina, it does not interest me. I wish it was “there are lots and lots of us”, it might mean forty million." Nina agreed, so we did. As we performed it at the Opera House, the people bobbed up as it were “Ukraine has not yet died.” Until today I cannot understand why Nina hasn’t included this song into her cassette recording. There is one my song "Oh My Young Days", my lyrics, but there is no this song. Why does she avoid singing it anywhere? Know what& I’ll give you a piece of my mind about Matviyenko.

A small woman with a big voice…

And again she sings: “We’re but scarce remains, don’t stand apart…” Maybe she is afraid again, I do not know, maybe someone said something to her… I thought that during the Orange Revolution she would stand up, "Don’t stand apart, take up the call, there are lots and lots of us.” From Donbas to the Carpathians, even to Zakarpattia. So I do not understand, so I do not know what it is all about. She published a book and in it she wrote about patriotism and that this song became a symbol of… Well, it became, so why she does not sing it anywhere now? This is my question. So I openly say that I do not want to see Nina anymore. On principle. Because I never lived for music; I lived, if music helped me in something, in my opinion, for Ukraine, then I am a musician. I don’t like fishing in the air, I’ve never tried to make a full blow of my music. I don’t like Nina’s pattern of behavior. I was surprised, I even called her from America, when she started going to the Moscow Patriarchate, to the Lavra. The moment I had learned about it, I called her, and do you know what she replied? “This is my business where I go.” I said, "Nina, there also exist Ukrainian-speaking churches.”—“There are also our guys.”—“Yes,” I said, “there are, but this church is under foreign control.” She snapped that it was none of my business.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: How long did you stay in Ukraine after your imprisonment?

V.V.Smohytel: I was released in 1980, I think that that I stayed here nine years. You know, I came out and did not want to go anywhere. But with the course of time my aggressivity and anger increased…

We made a movie about Nina Matviyenko. On one occasion, when we sang “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe" in Lviv, the audience stood up. Next day there was the concert again. Katsal, director of the chorus, came up to me and said, “Vadym, I will not perform “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe".”—“Why?”—“Because I was told that you served a term in prison, and you did not inform me.”—“Listen, Katsal, when we came together, we didn’t discuss with whom you slept and were you did your time. We talked about music, right? You liked my music and you sang it, but what has this to do with...?”—“Vadym, you will live in Kyiv, and I live here in Lviv. I was told not to perform this song, because it exacerbates national feelings.”—“Come on, Mykola, let’s agree as follows: If you sing, everything's okay, but if you do not sing tomorrow, then I will never in my life… I see on the street, and I will look at you as at a glass, I do not know you”. On the next day, at the concert Mykola Katsal does not perform “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe". I immediately got on the train Kyiv--Lviv. In Kyiv, I at once went to the KGB on Volodymyrska Street, but they said no, somewhere where there had been a monument to Lesia Ukrayinka. A man came out: I do not remember his first name, but his family name was Chipak, Major Chipak. “Vadym Volodymyrovych, what’s happened?” I said: "I’ve done my term. Why are you pestering me? I made an arrangement of a song which was composed in the times of lore when there was no mention of your regime yet. This is a wedding song.” I did not tell him that we had changed the words a little bit there. I am also one of the people and I have the right to change the text the way I like. I said, "What do you want? How long will you nag me? For example, yesterday…”—“Wait a minute, Vadym Volodymyrovych, really, you don’t say….”—“Nay, it’s in the spirit of your office. Well, how long will you poke me? How much blood will you suck of me? Look, I may invite you to my place… Come, I'll show you something” . He agreed: "OK." We went to Franko Street. Once on the commuter train platform in Fastiv or Koziatyn I bought in the store such a hatchet with inscription: Mykolayiv, shipbuilding yard. One-piece-cast. The instrument included the blade of the ax, hammer and nail drawer, all-in-one. I bought it and it lay on my table. So he came to my place. I said: “Here, do you see this hatchet? Tell your General that if you ever again come to arrest me as you arrested me last time, I will kill you with all my strength.” I said: Believe it or not,  I know how many beans make five… But I have also music, and I want dedicate myself to music. But if you come to arrest me for the wedding song and will say that it is nationalism or something… If you come to arrest me again for some song or poems that I keep to himself, I’ll chop you with this ax. And if during seventy years they kept killing you when you came there to expropriate grain… Go and tell him, and fuck off my house, because you've niggled me up and enough is enough. Well, I’ve done my term and what else do you want? I’ve served my time and what else do you want?! This song had been composed long before your regime. What do you want, what you are looking for in it? What are you paid for? Tell your chief that all of you should be killed. This is my final conclusion.” And he left. This is the story of the song “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe".

But Nina goes on ignoring it.

It is not to her liking. Well, I say, let her not like my arrangement, right? But let Stankovych or Kiva use these words “there are lots and lots of us“ and do a better job. I'm not saying I'm a composer, I’ve never considered myself a composer, but I thought it should be done, and it sounded great, people got up. Well, why not do it in the name of Ukraine, not in the name of music? That surprises me. Therefore I do not want to see Nina.

I say: great voice of a little woman…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: So, you’ve mentioned the team, with which you went to Lviv, how it was called?

V.V.Smohytel: Well, it's this chorus "Dudaryk” in Lviv. We went with Nina to Lviv and there conducted rehearsals, Mykola Katsal coached the singers, and it was he who refused. Well, again, terror, terror again, fear again. He was ordered, but he had to uphold the principle. Nina has to uphold the principle. They are afraid. Yes, once I was also afraid. I did not write anything, they wrote themselves everything they needed… Only when they mentioned Svitlychnyi, I said, "I'll be a good guy. Well, I'll be a good guy, only leave me alone, I cannot live like this. I cannot sleep and I cannot work, I cannot…” This state and this KGB terrorized people. And Nina Matviyenko was a victim of terror, and Katsal was a victim of terror, and Drach was a victim of terror, and Padlychko was a vivid victim of terror, just wreckage and scum, how can the earth hold such rubbish. And Dziuba was a victim of terror and so on. They were accursed people who put their souls in perdition. Do you know what Svitlychnyi told me when he said that he would never forgive Dziuba? He told me that he would never think that Dziuba would break. He didn’t thought so.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, it was a severe blow for everyone.

V.V.Smohytel: And Drach also deserted like a rat. Vorobyov wrote about Drach: why are you hiding, Drach, behind a marble column and looking at us? Although we all stood behind the column… Mykola Vorobyov writes that we all stood behind marble columns. No, Mykola, we were not standing behind marble columns. The people did not stand, Svitlychnyi did not stand, Alla Horska did not stand, Vasyl Stus did not stand, many people did not stand. These are the ones we know, and how many people we do not know that did not stand there. So I cannot agree with Vorobyov that everybody stood there. This is nothing but fear. This is fear, and it abides in Nina Matviyenko, it is in me as well, just different levels of fear… So, not everyone can go against the submachine gun pointed at you. Someone may fall, but why do I say that? We need to stand up and go forward again, make progress and do not change direction.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: “Fall down and rise, and forward march!” So Verhaeren said.

V.V.Smohytel: Yes. And they had fallen and that’s all. I listened to Drach: he’s just a ruin, it's just a shame to listen to this man, he is simply a sick person, he needs to be hospitalized and that’s it. And Padlychko, he’d better hang himself, it's impossible to systematically curse all the best. Now he amends hymns, “we were killed…” 

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Do you know how they call him after he wrote a draft of a new national anthem? He was called a “hymnist."

V.V.Smohytel: Well, it's terrible, it's just an abomination. Well, now back to myself. I was so angry when they banned my song, “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe”. My mother knew about that KGB officer, whom I showed the ax, and my mother said to me: “Listen, my son, take to your heels because they’ll apprehend you for the second time. They thought that you were afraid.” Actually I walked free from jail a hundred times angrier. I had an acquaintance in Canada and I went to Canada. I spent many nights long on my feet until I got my passport. Four months I slept in cars and stood in lines; it was sheer lunacy. I never thought I would return, I took my archive with me, took about three hundred films, I took everything I could. I departed from Moscow and I paid officials there to let through my luggage. I told them that there were sheets of paper because I was a composer, and they did not confiscate anything.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: What was the year of your departure?

V.V.Smohytel: I think I departed in the nineties. This is just a year before Ukraine, before the collapse of the USSR. Well, I left and arrived in Canada. Well, I'm stupid I thought it was Canada… I arrived in Montreal… And the invitation to visit was from Edmonton. And Edmonton was thousands of kilometers away. It was necessary to pay additional $300 to fly to Edmonton, but I was penniless. But I met some Ukrainians there. It was the seventh of January, on the eve of Christmas. I thought I would see how they celebrate Xmas in Canada. And they asked: "What’s on tap?" I said, “I’d like to aviate, but I have no money to buy a ticket." They called this Taras Litvyak in Edmonton, I had his phone number, and he said as I overheard that he had not such money for a ticket. "Today is January 7. Maybe I might see how Christmas is celebrated somewhere?”—“We have no plans to have guests today." So, if I got the right end of the stick, I had to scrape money to buy a return ticket. Later it came to me that it was their face. Well, sorry, they were nothing but Ukrainian-speaking stinkers. I told him: “Formerly in Kyiv we went Christmas caroling to writers, designers, prominent people, and now I would like to see how you do it in Canada.” I know, now I know why they were dissatisfied. If you invite a man and he has no money, you’re expected to feed him and no one wanted to. They then asked: “Do you have any other phone numbers?” And they found the phone of Yosyp Terelia and Yosyp Terelia agreed that they would drive me to him. It was a five-hour drive and then we reached Terelia. Well, brought me to Terelia and he paid the driver $50. It turned out that his wife knew me. He said: "Vadym…”. I looked at her and it seemed to me I didn’t know her. It turned out that once Plakhotniuk and went to the medical school hostel and she settled us off in this hostel. Well, the students away. But she remembered me, while I did not remember her as there were many girls. Terelia helped me a lot. He bought me a ticket to Edmonton and I went. I saw the man and I saw everything. At the University I showed the film “Rusalka Week”[13] about Nina. By the way, it’s a great movie and Nina has never mentioned it. There, for example, [Smohytel hums the song: "Who loves with all her heart…”] what is the title of the song?

V.V.Ovsiyenko: "The lass was walking in the meadows."

V.V.Smohytel: There was a film clip: a girl with the geese… it's just for all the world. Against the background of these trendy naked walking sluts Nina could… We could show this film clip… But Nina has never even mentioned it. And we also sang together: I sang “Tilled Black Soil” and Nina “Eagle’s Tilled the Field”; there was also a film clip: dead Kozak and all… If only this clip could be shown. Nina never even says a word. I know why. Because it did not enjoy popularity. Well, wait, maybe Bach's music also is not popular? Now, if you play Bach and play Povaliy that screams that she had lent a husband, had rented a guy, everybody listens to this whore and nobody listens to Bach. Well, it does not mean that Povaliy is better than Bach or that Bach is worse than Povaliy. Here Nina hasn’t wits enough. Either she has bad advisers or she wants at this very point, while she lives, to have all this. I tell you that this "The lass was walking in the meadows", or rather this song from Zakarpattia had a different title, and I arranged it with vibraphone and violins… It was an excellent video clip! The geese and the girl dancing… my God! There were shots of extraordinary beauty! And she… It is our misfortune indeed. I once thought that in fact Yews, Poles, and Moskals were to blame. No, we are to blame ourselves. We are ourselves to blame! Did the Germans like the Poles or do Germans like Poles today? They do not like each other. Do the Russians like the Poles? No. Nevertheless they followed their own road… And here… Here an American woman brought Ukrainian language toys. We have no Ukrainian language toys on sale. She asked: "How do you bring up your children?” And we have a president and the state, and all, but nothing more. A Polish movie star Barbara Brylska arrived in Ukraine. The correct spelling of her name is Brylska and not Brylskaya, Russian-style. If a woman is Kovalska, then in Russian she should also be Kovalska. And there is no Volodymyr Putin. If Volodymyr Putin, then one should write Yurko Bush. What's this? Vladimir Putsin, in fact I would insert ts  instead of t: Vladimir Putsin. What’s this? And journalists maintain: "Volodymyr Putin". So what, then Volodymyr Saakashvili or what? It was a rule in the Soviet Union, but now it must be changed. Symonenko wrote: "The whole nation is a wound that has never healed".

V.V.Ovsiyenko: There remained only remnants of Ukrainian people.

V.V.Smohytel: Right. It's just awful. I stayed in Canada, and I did not come to like Canada.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: What were you doing there in Canada? After all, how did you make your living?

V.V.Smohytel: Terelia bought me tickets, I stayed with Terelia. But what I did not like there is that the Canadians practiced multiculturalism in their families. They one hour of radiobroadcasting and one hour of TV broadcasting in Ukrainian, and they had long forgotten about Ukraine they aspired to make here. They have their record industry, they have their broadcasting stations, “Christ is being born", and they drink horilka. I tried to tell them about Ukraine but I saw that none of them intended to return to Ukraine because they were doing well in Canada. I saw that it was a large village. This is a good country to come to die, but there is nothing to live for. I moved to America. I did not like Canada for what I saw: all Ukrainians there took Ukrainian life with both hands as it came and enjoyed it to the full. Once they took me to the Plastuny meeting. There thee young guys sang the song, "We will give our life for Ukraine”, and then… here is the composer from Kyiv. Well, I said: "Do not sacrifice your life, guys. I'll give you the address of one such Kandyba, of some other people and you can send them a block of cassettes. One cassette,” I said, “was worth twenty-five karbovanetses, and their paycheck made one hundred karbovanetses, so if they did not eat anything they could buy four cassettes. I would give you addresses and, please, send them one block of these cassettes per address, so they could make recordings and pass them through many hands.” No one came up to me. Two days passed, they again were singing “We will give our life”, the same girls from Khmelnytsky. Their mustached leader winked at me and they departed. This second time I saw that this was nothing but degeneration. And this was the end of it; I said that Canada made me sick.

I saw Lantukh, he interviewed me at Toronto radio station. It was a wonderful interview, but towards the end there had to be a song “The Sun Is Low…” I said, “Why! The “Red Rue” is better, “Let’s raise yellow and blue flags”, let me play all these cassettes. I can prepare a radio program about Kozlovsky and then you will sing “The Sun Is Low…”. He said: “I can transfer the station to your possession. You know that the station is based on donations. I ride all over these farms and ask: "What do you want?" And he says, “The Sun Is Low…” and gives ten or twenty dollars.” Well, I gathered these people, so to say their elite, and played them political songs from the “Red Rue” cassette. And one lady got up: “They are crying out something like they do it in America.” I said, "They are not crying the first thing that comes into their heads. They are not crying “your lips, my lips”, but they are crying “Ukraine!”—“So they do it in America." I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you something. I will speak straight from the shoulder. Sometime in the future all of you will die away. You have to die away and a new generation has to come, new people will come. Rather than raise money and teach a composer to write popular music, the way Americans do it… Here, I’ve shown you a sample, and you even do not want to listen in. You are fossils; you just do not understand what I'm telling you, you do not understand a thing. You cannot make Ukraine, cannot! You just cannot figure out what is going on in the world, what is going on in Ukraine. I’ve just shown you and you do not want.” They are crying out “Ukraine.”—“Well, they are doing the same in America!” Therefore, they are all serene in Canada.

Going from Canada to America takes a lot of doing. It’s a kind of routine there. Even if you are a secret service man (and I have seen secret service men there) and you are a Canadian citizen you just sign a contract. They do not grant you citizenship. That’s impossible! They grant citizenship to Papuans from Peru, whole villages; these people will not raise claims. They grant it to Dutch and Germans. The dissidents… Do you know what they say about them? “Dissident there--dissident here”. So, you will be looking for something wrong, while they need people who work in silence, buy their clothes, junk, send home a penny and that’s all. They do not like problem people, they do not want them and do their best to evade them.

I left for America thanks to Runvira or Native Ukrainian National Faith. Sylenko, their Prophet, transported me. No two ways about it. No way. He said he needed me as a priest… something like it, and he brought me to America.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: When was it?

V.V.Smohytel: I stayed a month in Canada and said that I could not bear it anymore! It's just a village, a large Ukrainian village and nothing more. It’s cool to die there. To die or rest. There is nothing there; they are nothing but remnants. So what if they speak Ukrainian and sing carols? And what about their children?

V.V.Ovsiyenko: And how it looks in America?

V.V.Smohytel: Now for America. I came to America. The level is higher and higher is the level of Ukrainians. But the "Voice of America", VOA Chief Biliayev writes beautiful poetry. But, no. At first I wrote there “Ukraine is the People." I wrote a lot there. The "Earth", and then “People". Biliayev and I went to the Library of Congress to give these works into Library’s charge and to get the copyrights. Biliayev me and said, “Mr. Vadym, listen to me. Name it not “Ukraine and People”, but “America and People”. They will take your works and there will be TV broadcasts. What is Ukraine for Americans?” At first I did not pay attention to it. I said, “No, my knowledge about America is insufficient, I’ve just arrived, only six months.”—“Well, you are the doctor." Secondly. This is America as I come to know her. As the chief of VOA Biliayev is a government employee and frequented on business trips Kyiv, while his American wife asked: “Volodia, you are old, you’re over seventy, well, God forbid, something might happen to you, where should I bury you?”—“Of course, in America.” Oops! Oops! Then I remembered what he told me about America… No one of them thinks about returning… The level of people there is higher, but again they are nobody, no one thinks about returning to Ukraine. Then I wrote music to his lyrics, and when writing I did not think about the content: “The foreign land became our abode, It welcomed us and was so nice, And native land at the beginning of the road Remained a fantasy for our eyes.” This is Biliayev. Well, a nice poem, but when I looked into it, I saw… That's why I wrote that “emigration, you’re not our nation”. Well, for example, you do not know English and read their newspaper. The speech standards are like those of a shepherd who grazes sheep. The horrible language. One of the authors was Martha Siryk. I called her saying, "Good day.”—“Good day.”—“ Is this your article?”—“My.”—“I have a suggestion.”—“And what do you offer?”—“I have a following offer. I came from Kyiv, I do not know English. You write in Ukrainian; your style is beautiful, but it is a dialect. It is a dialect. Let's do as follows. I teach you modern literary standards for fifteen minutes and you teach me English for fifteen minutes as well.” Pause in the receiver. I thought that there was something wrong with the receiver: no sound at all. I said, "Are you there?” Pause. I repeated, “Are you there?”—“Do you mean I do not know Ukrainian?” she asked coldly. “No,” I said, “you do know, but your language does not differ from the language of the person who looks after the plains. Here, it may sound normal for the emigrant community, but in Ukraine people would just laugh at it because people there are different, the language has made progress. For example, have a look at Russian Service of the Voice of America. They use modern Russian. And you’d rather follow their example…”—“I am writing for the emigration community, I do not write for you.”—“Yeah, bye.” I hung up. Next. The newspaper Svoboda reads: "Do not let the people from Ukraine to communicate with our young people, because they will raise a barrier between us and the young.” Well, if I were in politics, I would have grabbed a gun, come up and said, "Did you write it? In the name of people I will shoot and kill you now.” They created a ghetto. Vorobyov has written in a poem that the maze is empty, and if a slave does not flee, there is no slavery. You see, if a slave flees nowhere, there is no slavery. They will not run away, they are happy there and all.

Another example. I saw a good deal of a woman and then forgot about it. Then I said, "You know, it slipped my mind.”—“Well, you live in America, so if you go on forgetting like nobody will play host to you. In America, if a person has said and keeps waiting for you…” I said, "Well, thank you, I’ll keep it in mind.”—“Okay." We were walking with her and saw the American flag-- American flags there are at every turn—and she said, "You know, when I am looking at the American flag, then I just exalt, you know, and feel myself younger. I look at this flag and melt.” 

Next. Whatshisname… Now I remember. Petro Odarchenko. It seems he was a centenarian at the time. Gives me his record and I presented him mine. And I said, “Mr. Petro, and where do you prefer to be buried?”—“Of course, here.”—“Well,” I said, “and what about “When I die, let me be buried In my beloved Ukraine, My tomb upon a rave-mound high, Amid the wide-spread plain, That the fields, the steppe unbounded…"?”—“Oh my dear! Nobody needs me. I have nobody there.”—“Well,” I said, “and what about your native village? People will get together from twenty, from a hundred neighboring villages knowing that this American he entrusted them with burying him in his native land.”—“Oh my dear, I’ve got my children here.”—“Right,” I said, “sometime in the future your children will come there to see Ukraine.”

Next. Olga Liak, she was born in New York, and her husband taught her Ukrainian. It's not their last name. He was chief editor of the Russian-language magazine America. He never attended Ukrainian events, he slept with a handgun, Ukrainian, he was apparently terribly afraid of being deported. But he taught Olga, his wife, this magnificent language, as if she came from Kyiv, studied at university or from a village so perfectly she mastered our language. In summer, she said, "I'll take my grandchildren to travel about the States. The kids need to see the States." I said nothing. So they traveled about the States: "Oh, it was so good!” I asked: “And why do you not want to show your children Ukraine?”—“You know, I've never been there and do not want to go there. You know, I’ve grown up here."

This was America that I saw. Well, of course, when Ukraine became an independent state, I wrote Kravchuk a year later about my arrest. The official answer--not by Kravchuk, but by the ministry to which he relegated the letter—read that my file was destroyed. I wrote him again: "It has been destroyed in Ukraine, but I have it.” There followed no answers, only they confiscated my khata after the second letter. My sister wrote: where should I put your things? This is the whole answer.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: What khata? In Zhmerynka or where?

V.V.Smohytel: No, in Kyiv I lived in Kyiv, apt. 8, 26, Franko Street, where I was arrested. They took away my apartment. This is the whole answer.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did it happen already after the declaration of independence, right?

V.V.Smohytel: Right. That's when I wrote Kravchuk. That was the real answer. There I wrote a lot, a lot of music composed, but no one needs it. It's kind of chronicle for those who will be interested. I covered many issues there: about the Verkhovna Rada, an open letter to Kravchuk, and “Voice from the other world”, and "Chessmen” about the fact that you look like chessmen, and Lukyanenko, who aspired to become a president, but went to play with the those killers. He had no right to go to the parliament. Both he and Chornovil and all had to stand aside. And if you cannot make a nation, then we… All of them joined this colonial administration. These four fools--two Horyns, and Lukyanenko with Chornovil--all four of these prisoners went to work for these sodomites, this Kravchuk. They had to bring Kravchuk to justice and not collaborate with him, out of principle. I would never join them. I wrote there that I would never play chess with those who imprisoned me yesterday. How could he? From Zakarpattia… (Yuri Badzio.--Ed.). He directly supported Marchuk. I called him from America. How can you support presidential candidate Marchuk, the KGB officer, by gum!

V.V.Ovsiyenko: And Lukyanenko supported him and worked for him. A year later he wrote an article “I was wrong…”.

V.V.Smohytel: Well, it's just intellectual insanity. If you like I can tell you about Marchuk. Once Kandyba came to me. I lived in the downtown, near the railroad terminal. So I got in touch on the phone with Kandyba and we agreed  to go out on a visit to Proniuk in the evening. It was already after the midnight. Proniuk said, "I'll be waiting for you." Well, we decided not to wait for the trolley-bus and descended along the Shevchenko Boulevard to the circus, and then went up the Brest-Lytovsk Avenue where he lived beyond the bridge. So Kandyba and I were talking and walking down the avenue, reached the maple leaf crossing, began crossing the street under the bridge and all of a sudden Volga broke to rest in front of us! Such a terrible sound and the car darted onto the grass. And between us and white Volga there was humpbacked ZAZ 965 Zaporozhets. So we were crossing the street and Volga accelerated to knock us down. And at that very moment ZAZ 965 popped up and stopped in the way of Volga. The car then made a U-turn and the driver looked back at us; his eyes were like Marchuk’s eyes. Dark Roma eyes, thick hands on the wheel. I did not know Marchuk at the time… But listen. I lived in Washington a year and there near the railroad terminal was Ukrainian firm working under the direction of the Congress. I went there and saw Marchuk addressing the audience. I looked at his familiar face and remembered. Maybe it was someone like him, I do not know. And then I compared all photos of presidential candidates. This was a copy. O my God! And I saw that one such Kyrychenko… They lived near the Ukraine Palace, he also did his term in prison, he wrote. I’ve forgotten, Badzio, Badzio…

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yuri Badzio?

V.V.Smohytel: Yes, that’s him. I called Badzio: "How can you support Marchuk?”

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, both he and his wife Svitlana Kyrychenko. I then very sharply opposed Marchuk. All of them jumped over me at the time…

V.V.Smohytel: Let's drop this matter.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: When did you come back to Ukraine?

V.V.Smohytel: And how I did it. Firstly, I began losing ground and, secondly, I had lived there for 14 years already, and, thirdly, I saw the absurdity of life there. Everything was gray. Here the poets are gathering and say something… And there's nothing of the kind. There they’re just keep buying and then die and that’s all. And life of Ukrainians there is like a three-ring circus. So I decided to go home. But in Ukraine Kuchma was still at the helm and they cut off Gongadze’s head. And the son asked, "What, Dad?" I took my son with me to America, because I thought that as far as they failed to kill me when I was walking with Kandyba, they would certainly kill my son. And my son asked, "Dad, are you afraid? You may go and see how the land lies.”—“Well,” I said, “I’ll go.”—“When?”—“Let's go now." We got in the car, went to New York, and he said: "I want to see New York, and from New York I will go back.” I took a camera with me, a small accordion to play somewhere if I’m short of money. As I arrived, I said, "Volodia, I will not go back." Well, I like it: different people, better people, kindlier. If you goby train, some one there may treat you, give you a little glass of suck. In America, I lived fourteen years and nobody gave me even a piece of chicken. I came to look around and wrote my son to sell everything out there, because I wouldn’t return anymore. Well, firstly, in Kyiv I had no apartment as far as Kravchuk took it away. Secondly, I did not like the idea of living in Kyiv, because I intended to write a lot, and in Kyiv there is nothing but an occasional concert somewhere and the hustle and bustle of a big city. I know I lived here, you spend on the run all day. In Zhmerynka, I had finished school. So I might stay in Zhmerynka. However, I manage to do very little now, because I have to do repairs at home and put in order graves at the cemetery. But if I die tomorrow, I'll cry not because I’ve died, but because I’ve done next to nothing. But in America I bought a studio and wrote a lot. If people do not need it, then a historian will look into it. Sometime I will visit you and play a record for you to listen.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: You have everything recorded, right?

V.V.Smohytel: Right, on cassettes and on CDs.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Where these compositions performed somewhere or broadcast?

V.V.Smohytel: I never show them. And who needs it? Nobody needs them here. Even this trouble with my file. Well, no one needs it. Shall I tell Yushchenko about it or who? Or Medvedko, or Potebenko; the latter I call Motherfucker. to whom should I show it? No one, no one is interested in it. I do not see anyone to whom I might show. There is the only way out: to write an opera, right? To make everyone like it. Only a name may arrest somebody’s attention. You need a name in the first place. I’ve got no name. Well, everybody knew when there existed this song “Oh My Gorgeous Tribe”. But Nina got scared. Will I ask her? No name, no fame. I’m a hundred-percenter anyway. I've written a lot. I wrote a very interesting thing. One guy from the Opera House said: "It's brilliant, Vadym”. “Kulyna”. This ballad was written in 1513; it is the oldest in Europe.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: That is it was written down in 1513.

V.V.Smohytel: Right, it was written down. I made an arrangement. I took it to a radio  to show. No one called back. I said, "Even if it is a flop, call me, tell me." I spent four months to arrange it. I showed it in opera house: wonderful, it should be popularized. How to? How can I popularize? Shall I say that I like it? This work needs an advanced listener, I’ve preserved the atmosphere of the time in this work. I would say if Beethoven had written only, say, the second symphony, sixth pastoral, seventh, no one would have known him if it had not been for the first, third, fifth and ninth symphonies. In fact, one should create something that everybody can understand.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: I’d like to obtain more accurate information on the year of your return to Ukraine.

V.V.Smohytel: I came back five years ago. I think I returned in 2004. And I am not  sorry I did it. And will not go there anymore. Well, America saved my life. I did not kill nobody, I learned the language, I saw another culture, I saw other people. I am very grateful to America, it is a great country, but it is not my country.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Did your son stay there?

V.V.Smohytel: He not only stayed there, he is greater nationalist than I: he completed formalities and got Ukrainian passport. I have an American passport.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Is he here?

V.V.Smohytel: No, he is there but with Ukrainian passport.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: Wait, you never mentioned his name.

V.V.Smohytel: Volodymyr. Volodymyr Smohytel. He graduated from the University, he knows the space, he knows how to fight. He came here and wanted to work, find him a job. He can coach, he can translate, he can talk about parties, he has an excellent command of English, not as I do.

V.V.Ovsiyenko And when was he born?

V.V.Smohytel: He was born in 1969.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: You say he needs a job…

V.V.Smohytel: I say that he knows a lot and is eager to work. He will come here.

V.V.Ovsiyenko And what about a shelter for him?

V.V.Smohytel: Alas, no he has no shelter. That’s all, let's turn it off.

V.V.Ovsiyenko: It was Vadym Smohytel, 11 November 2008, not the 12th, as mentioned at the beginning.


The open appeal to Leonid Kravchuk,

now the President of Ukraine,

administration of the Security Service of Ukraine,

Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

On the night of December 13, 1977 I was shoved into white Volga and only three years later I was able to return (and not to my home in Kyiv, but to my mother, where I had to stay six-months under house arrest).

I cannot yet know all involved in my arrest in 1977, but I can submit here the following names:

1. Shcherban Anatoly Yuriyovych, apt. 6, 42/2, Popudrenko Street, Kyiv. During the trial and arrest he was the "victim".

2. Sirenko Adam Filipovych, militiaman, 4, Bauman Street, Kyiv, "witness".

3. Artiukh Hryhoriy Karpovych, apt. 54, 143, Shevchenko Boulevard, Kyiv-135, "witness".

4. Koloschuk Leonid Romanovych, apt. 35, 17, Blucher Street, Kyiv-128; "witness" and the driver of the white Volga.

5. Romanov, “investigator” at the Radiansky District militia station, Kyiv.

6. Ivanov, Major at the same militia station.

7. Tsuprenko P.H., Deputy Head of the Supreme Court of the UkrSSR.

8. Papenko D.D., Senior Judicial Advisor to the Ministry of Justice.

To this application I attach documents confirming the direct involvement of the said people in my arrest which is confirmed by their handwritten signatures!

I take legal action against these people to court and require to begin a judicial investigation against them.

The attachments:

1. Copy of the verdict of guilty

2. Answer of the Deputy Chief Justice Tsuprenko P.H.

3. Answer of the Senior Judicial Advisor Papenko D.D.

The new Ukrainian state has the old state apparatus. This not only provokes a natural surprise, but also legitimate concerns of millions of people for the future of proclaimed young independent Ukraine.

The trial of seven servants of the KGB could allay fears and provide a foundation for confidence in the current public administration in Ukraine.

Vadym Smohytel.

1434 Kennedy St. NW Washington D.C. 20011 U.S.A.

Phone: (202) 829-8971


The Supreme Court of the Ukrainian SSR

4, Chekisty Street, GSP, Kyiv-24, 252601

No. 5-1380(?)/78 January 26, 1978


Head of the institution UA 45/183


Cc: Mr. Smohytel N.O., 6, Zakhidna Street, Zhmerynka, Vinnytsia Oblast.


Please inform convicted Smohytel V.V. that following his complaint and the complaint of his mother against the verdict of the People's Court of the Radyansky District of Kyiv of February 3, 1978, which sentenced him under p. 2, art. 206 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR to three years' imprisonment, the Supreme Court of the UkrSSR examined his criminal case according to the review procedures.

The examination of the case has established that the guilt of Smohytel V.V. consisting in the fact that he unjustly out of hooligan motive inflicted two blows to Mr. Shcherban and caused him minor injuries with no short-term injury to health was confirmed by the testimony of victim Shcherban, witnesses Artiukh and Sirenko, as well as the forensic medical examination.

There is no reason not to believe the testimony of the victim and witnesses on the grounds stated in the complaint.

Since the hooligan actions of convict Smohytel were distinguished by especial impertinence, the court reasonably qualified them under p. 2, art. 206 of the Criminal Code of UkrSSR.

The penalty was awarded based on the nature and degree of social danger of the crime and the identification data.

The Head of the Supreme Court of the UkrSSR refused to appeal against the decision of the court.

Deputy Head of the Supreme Court of the UkrSSR P.H.Tsuprenko


[1] Table. The mother adheres to pre-war phonetic standard or so called Kyiv-Poltava dialect standard (translator’s note).

[2] Another, other. The same phonetic standard (translator’s note).

[3] The old Ukrainian mobile theater (translator’s note).

[4] Lysenko’s first opera Chornomortsi was staged in Kyiv in 1872, his second opera Natalka Poltavka was staged in Odesa in1889. Both were a success (translator’s note).

[5] In real fact, there were already a number of known composers, such as Liudkevych, Stetsenko to name a few (translator’s note).

[6] In the part of Ukraine occupied by Russia such schools were inaugurated since 1863 on. Lviv in Austrian Ukraine was among the best known musical cities in Europe since the end of 18th c. (translator's note).

[7] The discrepancy may be explained etymologically (translator's note).

[8] Ladia Mohylianska was a known Ukrainian lyric poet killed by Bolshevics in 1937 (translator’s note).

[9] Hryhoriy KKhalymonenko is an outstanding orientalyst and translator-polyglot, see:

[10] At the time there was a public telephone office one hundred meters down the street from the drugstore (translator’s note).

[11] At the time it was Podillia Province (translator’s note).

[12] Hnat Tantsiura (June 10, 1901--† November 12, 1962). His many works were published before WWII and after 1955 (translator's note).

[13] A movable holiday like Whitsunday (translator’s note).

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