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Dissident movement in Ukraine

MARYNOVYCH Liuba Yosypivna

05.02.2016 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko | Interview obtained on February 2, 2000

Marynovych Liuba Yosypivna [22.11.1924 - 01.09.2006]

V.Ovsiyenko: Now we will proceed to talk with Ms. Liuba Marynovych Sr., mother of Myroslav.

L. Y. Marynovych: I am Liubov Marynovych, daughter of Yosyp, I was born on the territory, which now belongs to Poland: in the Village of Viysko near the St. Mt. Calvary, where remission of sins was granted to devout persons. I was born into the family of priest Father Yosyp Marynovych, into a very cultured family. The maiden name of my mother Mariya was Mentsynska; she was a cousin of famous opera singer Modest Mentsynsky. My mother had six children: four daughters and two sons; we were brought up in the Ukrainian patriotic spirit. The members of our family used to sing various songs: classical, folk songs, and arias from “Zaporozhian Beyond the Danube”. The religious holidays were observed with great reverence, with great sanctity. The villagers followed the great traditions developed mainly by my father. He was a great patriot of his Fatherland: he headed the local organization of "Prosvita" and he was behind all activities in the village.

I studied at the Gymnasium in Przemyśl; finished just one grade and went to the second grade in Yavoriv, and then the war began. During the German rule, I finished one grade of musical school in Lviv… Oh, I am sorry, during the German rule German I finished two classes of trade school. Well, the war again broke my studies. Then I married, bore children, and had no more time for learning.

What can I say? Of course, in the village I was not as active as my father, I have to confess. But I loved to participate in all events that took place in the village. - I really liked the songs and performances, I the village developments made my life. I knew all guys who were in the UIA; it was my life, because all of them were of my age and almost all of them, 31 insurgents were killed in action. I was not a member of the UIA, because, apparently, the guys somehow protected because my two brothers Anton and Yaroslav had something to do with the insurgents and, apparently, the guys took pity upon me. But I sang carols with them and I talked to them, I saw them, I saw them coming to our khata in the evening, I heard their conversations… I felt sorry for them and I was proud of my countrymen.

Then the Soviets came into power. I was already married; my husband Frank Dytsio was my fellow villager. I bore a daughter and later became pregnant with Myroslav and we were resettled to the territory of contemporary Ukraine in 1948. During the "Operation Vistula" we were resettled to the nearby Village of Komarovychi, where Myroslav was born. But we lived there for a short period only and moved to Sambir. Yeah, it has slipped my mind that my father was arrested in March 1945, but was released in July on condition that he would leave his village. He moved here, to the Village of Stebnyk[1] near Drohobych.

V.Ovsiyenko: There is a commemorative plaque in the church: was it about him?

L. Y. Marynovych: Yes, this plaque is about him. It can be said that completed the construction of the church in Stebnyk: there were only outer walls and my father built the interior of the church. He was rather a self-sacrificing man: he was not thinking about his home, he thought only about the church and about Ukraine. He was a great and good man.

Once my father wrote to me that there was a vacancy for my husband at the mill (he was a very good miller), and we moved to Drohobych. Of course, we had no apartment, nothing, even though the Poles gave us a khata during relocation, but my husband did a wrong thing: he sold that khata, all the money was spent quickly and we had no means of subsistence. We moved to Drohobych and lived here. In Drohobych my children finished school.

V.Ovsiyenko: Myroslav was born in 1949 and...

L. Y. Marynovych: And m daughter Nadiya was born in 1945. [(03.08.1945 - 28.03.2009)−MM]. She works in Rovno, she is a headmistress at the Center of Hope School; this is a Ukrainian semi-state semi-private school with an American program.

When we moved to Drohobych, my daughter graduated here from the Pedagogical Institute here, English philology, she was assigned to a job in Rivne where she is working so far. Myroslav graduated from the Lviv Polytechnic Institute. And I remained here alone. Our life with my husband went on in a slipshod manner and we parted. He died twelve years ago.

What can I say? In Drohobych I did nothing special; for some reason I do not have a gift for public work, which needs a special talent. I am a doer and not an organizer. I am more of a mother, as they say. Putting it in Christian terms, I am rather like Martha. You know, there were Martha and Mary: Mary listened to Jesus, and Martha was pottering about in the kitchen. So I'm like Martha. I like welcoming my little children, I like to feed them and this is my domain. I really am interested in everything and I am interested in politics, I am interested in dissident movement… I am interested in everything. Unfortunately, I have no talent to become an activist; it is not really my bag.

What else can I tell you? About the arrest of Myroslav. Of course, I was preparing for such imminent arrest. I knew that he would be arrested, because the Soviet government was unlikely to pat him on the back. When I told Myroslav so and so, Myroslav, you would be arrested, he said: “Do not worry, Mom, I may still earn my pension. But I follow my calling, I should do it.” I knew that he would be arrested, especially when Rudenko and Tykhyi had been already arrested.

I learned about the arrest from my daughter, when the officers came and conducted a search at her apartment. Of course, she did not phone me on the day of arrest, she did it the next day. I immediately went to her the same day, stayed overnight and in the morning when I was at the Zdolbuniv station, I noticed the KGB officers tailing me. I saw them here and there nodding their heads in my direction. On the train, I cried my heart out. I was approached by a man in the enclosed platform: he saw me weeping bitterly and said, “Stop crying, everything will be fine.” Perhaps, he was also…

V.Ovsiyenko: Right, he tailed you.

L. Y. Marynovych: Yes, a tail who saw me crying. But he said, "Do not weep: everything will be OK.”

There were, of course, monthly trips to Kyiv, with parcels. We mostly went with Nastia Fedorivna, mother of Matusevych. We communicated with her all time and, as they say, we did everything together; later we visited him, though she was going the other way, she helped me suggesting what to buy and what to pass. She knew better what we could bring him. She helped me a lot at the time.

Certainly, for me the jail was… You can just imagine: I'm alone in the house, four walls and nobody at home. People turned away from me on the street. It was very difficult. Until I met one of my very good friends, and she saw me with my head bowed. She said: “Hey, head up! Why do you keep your head down? Buck up! Your son is no rapist; your son stands for a good cause. And you look up.” Since then, I derived inspiration from her words. I am still grateful to her.

I have my notes here just to remember the details of the trial. The officials did not inform me about the day of the hearing, until Myroslav made a statement that he would not participate in the trial. Then they told me. I really went to work and asked to let me attend the trial, but they told me that until official notification from the KGB about the trial, they will not give me their permission. I went to the KGB, and they issued me the notification at once. But when I went to Lviv to catch my train, the bus was stopped on the road, all passengers were put off from the bus, including myself, a car drove up with the KGB officer, who seated me in a taxi and brought to Lviv, boarded me on another train: we returned my ticket and he boarded me on another train so that in Kyiv the KGB agents could meet me.

When I arrived, a KGB officer met me and asked whether I had a nice trip. I said, "Of course, thank you for asking and I did have a nice trip.” We just got in the cars and went to Vasylkiv[2]. On the way we saw KGB agents on guard everywhere.

We arrived at the courthouse. My daughter and my first cousin were already there. The hearing of the case ran its course and when the sentence was read both Nastia Fedorivna and I did not cry. I hear a whisper: “Look! They do not even cry.” You see, my soul petrified. We cried our eyes out at home, but we could not cry in the courtroom. In the courtroom we were among enemies and therefore our bodies petrified. We could not cry because we could not show our weakness. And they even were surprised that we did not cry.

Of course, we were prepared for such verdict: seven years of imprisonment and five years of exile. We shuddered but nothing could be done: the sentence was the sentence.

We went to visit for the first time in two months. And then such one Fiodorov, chief security officer, informed us that Myroslav had already eight times breached the order and that in spite of it they would grant us a visit and then for the first and last time we were allowed a three-day stay together. It was the only time when we were granted a three-day visit. I want to say that three days passed as one day, but still we spent these days together, we talked a lot, though we knew that we were overheard, but we were together indeed. The following visits were mostly short.

V.Ovsiyenko: And just how many times did you go there?

L. Y. Marynovych: To Kuchino we went only three times since for two years and a half Myroslav was not allowed to see his visitors, he was deprived of the right to visitations. There were perhaps only letters… one letter bimonthly. All the time he was kept in a cell-like room, where he served his sentence, and only after these restrictions he was allowed one-day visit and two short visits. Once we arrived and the jailers ordered him to speak Russian only but he protested and he did not want to go to the meeting; then they agreed to permit the meeting; it was the only one time that we spoke Ukrainian during the short meeting. These are all our meetings in Kuchino.

The exile. Of course, I was a little bit afraid of exile in Saralzhin because Marchenko, poor man, lived and died there… And then there was Popadiuk. But Kazakhstan turned out to be a good exile for us: in fact, it was humane, because the Kazakhs treated Myroslav in a really human way. Maybe because he was such a person that the nationality did not touch him, he preferred a man to be decent, and he himself was good by nature and just. Since his very childhood he did not like injustice. And it seems the Kazakhs there took notice of this. He went to apply for work but the boss said that they had no vacancies. Near him stood a Chechen, one of those Chechen contract laborers that looked for a job. So that Chechen said, “Well, take him, you can see by his eyes that he is a good guy.”

Myroslav worked there. Once there was a conflagration and they were afraid that it was a specially made arson “to fasten the blame on Myroslav” as if he had to answer for this. But it turned out that it was a completely different matter.

Once the KGB officers came from Lviv to Myroslav, when I was there, and offered him to write an appeal for pardon. They did it on purpose when I was there in order to tell me the same thing. I told them that Myroslav was an independent person; he was no longer a boy, whom I may order to do this or that. He was able to think for himself and I could not compel him. These were my words, and they stopped bothering me. Myroslav did not write an appeal then, but at the time Gorbachev began freeing convicts and Myroslav was released as well.

Upon his return, as you know, he worked at the refinery, but he wrote one article, second article, and they saw that he wouldn’t be an ordinary worker, and he would rather work according to his abilities. Therefore he went to the editorial office of our newspaper Halytska Zoria to work as a correspondent. In the beginning he was instructed to write on everyday topics, but he said: "I won’t agree to that because it's not my style, I'll write more on political and civil themes and about Ukrainian affairs.” And he did work as a journalist for a long time: two or three years, maybe more [actually seven years.—M.M.].

After that he met people from the Theological Academy and began working there, and his still working at the Lviv Theological Academy. He likes what he is doing: it is after his own heart.

V.Ovsiyenko He told me that he was repeatedly offered to become a candidate for deputy.

L. Y. Marynovych: No, he did not like the idea. You see, of course Myroslav can hold down the job, but, in my opinion, he is really a softie and therefore he is incompatible with the Verkhovna Rada doings. He says he might have no proper companions there. To my mind, it’s quite on the cards.

V.Ovsiyenko: Right, everyone has his vocation, and if a man feels, what for he was born, he should certainly go his own way.

L. Y. Marynovych: That’s it. He says that he is not keen to do that. I would have worried because I know Myroslav: he would not stand those injustices; he would be in agony with the situation. And I would suffer as well. And he really feels that he is of benefit for Ukraine, for the Church. He is a true grandson of his grandfather.

V.Ovsiyenko: I'll tell you as a mother that I have been lucky enough to come to know, perhaps, the best people of our age, I mean Ukrainians. And here I put on the same level: Mykola Rudenko, Yevhen Sverstiuk, and Myroslav Marynovych; they are perhaps the best people I know. I am happy that I am their contemporary. If I see the name of Marynovych, I know that it is necessary to read it because it's something very wise.

L. Y. Marynovych: I hear people say that Myroslav’s writings are mind-bending; he might do better if he resorted to a simpler style. And Myroslav says: “Why should I simplify my language? Let people learn and grow.” I fully agree with him. Maybe sometimes I do not understand those his philosophical reflections, and he laughs at me for I am not a philosophy connoisseur?

V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, but you should be happy to have such a son.

L. J. Marynovych: And happy am I, I am proud that I have such a son. I do have very good children. And my daughter is my good child; I'll tell you that if not for her and for a prayer, it would be very difficult for me when Myroslav was arrested. It was my prayer and my daughter, which supported me, though she worried not less than me because she loved Myroslav. She loves him terrifically! But she supported me morally almost every day. So I have beautiful children for whom I thank God every day.

V. Ovsiyenko: I think I missed whether you told your birth date?

L. Y. Marynovych: I did not tell you the date. It is November 22, 1924.

V.Ovsiyenko: You said that when Myroslav was arrested you worked somewhere. What kind of work did you do?

L. Y. Marynovych: I worked at the factory of household chemistry. I went to work there in order to earn a higher pension. And I had a good pension: about 100 karbovanetses. It was a good pension, especially when Myroslav was arrested, as far as I had to my trip, for food, and so on…

When my pensionable age came, I retired, though I could go on working there. I retired to let off the leash, as they say, because there might emerge a possibility to visit Myroslav, so I retired not to beg off. I owe my Myroslav as follows: once he wrote to me: “Mom, you will retire and be very bored at home. See if you can do embroidery or knitting.”I chose embroidery. I still embroider, and it helps me both materially and spiritually, it is very helpful. It’s all in virtue of Myroslav: he knew that I would live a difficult life.

V.Ovsiyenko: When Myroslav was in jail, did you happen to listen in radio "Freedom"? The broadcasts, of course, would give you moral support.

L. Y. Marynovych: I did it time and again! The broadcasts gave me moral support, especially when they announced that the Helsinki Group was nominated for the Nobel Prize. My daughter and I speculated, if the group could really win the prize. This might make their task easier. Maybe, they will be released. And it might have happened, but the prize went to the presidents of Egypt and Israel.

V.Ovsiyenko: Because they fought and reconciled.

L. J. Marynovych: Right, fought, reconciled, and one of them died, it seems, very soon after. So it passed, but we really watched the developments. At the time the radio interference was awful, the officials jammed broadcasts; nevertheless we managed to tune in and receive the signal every day.

The KGB officers seldom called on me; two or three times they were in my khata and inquired whether I had any problems, whether I had a grudge against the KGB officers. Once, however, I went to them here in Drohobych when from Myroslav I received no letters for a few months and I was really worried. I went and their boss, Mr. Husev reassured me and said that if there were something wrong, I would have been informed already; quit worrying, you will soon receive a letter. And indeed, some time later I received a letter. Apart from that there were not any kinds of persecutions, any provocations or any ill-treatment of me; I can say nothing of the sort. Everything was within reason.

V.Ovsiyenko: Did anyone of those released political prisoners call on you?

L. Y. Marynovych: Liubko Starosolskyi dropped in, Zorian Popadiuk called. I visited Mr. Yevhen Sverstiuk in Kyiv, I also called on Valeriy Marchenko.

V.Ovsiyenko: I wonder what impression Valeriy Marchenko made on you.

L. Y. Marynovych: He was wonderful! I cannot forget this meeting him on his balcony. He said, "Mrs. Liuba, maybe on the balcony they will not overhear us, let's go to the balcony.” He advised me to call on Ms. Nadiya Svitlychna, who would recommend what parcel Myroslav might need. He told me about the religious literature that I could get in Kyiv. Actually I liked very much Valeriy Marchenko: he was an inspiring personality and pure soul! Indeed, Myroslav was right that the Lord sent him the inter vivos gift of white attire, like a saint. He appeared before God as a pure soul! Did you read Myroslav’s article, where he wrote about Valeriy Marchenko?

V.Ovsiyenko: No, I did not, though I try to read everything written by Myroslav.

L. Y. Marynovych: He wrote very well about Valeriy Marchenko and about his mother Nina Mykhailivna; we have a good opinion of her, we hold her in respect as a really wonderful person.

Unfortunately, with Nastia Fedorivna, we have not communicated for a very long time now. Bad blood brewed between Myroslav and Mykola… Let God be their judge. Anyway, Myroslav never forgets Mykola and always has a kind word to say about him. Do you see him?

V.Ovsiyenko: He seldom appears in Kyiv. He is used to crop up and disappear, and he is out of sight again. I will have to go to him, too, with a Dictaphone and record his story. Mykola called on me in 1977. I was released on March 5, and he together with Olga Heiko, Liuba and Myroslava, daughter of Berdnyk, visited me in a village in Zhytomyr Oblast…

L. Y. Marynovych: You mean with our Liuba?

V.Ovsiyenko: Right, with your Liuba. They came to me at the end of March. Of course, later we were questioned about Mykola: the KGB officers examined both me and my niece, who had also arrived. Mykola was soon arrested. So I knew Mykola already from the end of March 1977 and he made a very good showing. Well, now he stands somehow aside the developments and only from time to time appears in public.

L. J. Marynovych: I do not know… maybe after that incident on stage…

V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, I witnessed that at the founding congress of the "Memorial". The excitable guy.

L. Y. Marynovych: Excitable is the word, yes. But he helped Myroslav to mould his character, as they say. Myroslav is of Halychyna ancestry; he, you know, is not swift to jump at conclusions, and Mykola taught him a lesson. Myroslav took his color from Zenko Krasivsky. At the very time when Myroslav was with him in jail. He simply said to him, "Why do you not trust yourself? Be yourself.”

V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, Myroslav has told about it today. Because, he says, I believed that one should constantly confront the KGB officers while Krasivsky was talking with them freely!

L. Y. Marynovych: Yes, the same he wrote about Surovtsev, the concentration camp KGB officer. We were surprised as we did not know Surovtsev. When we arrived for our first visit, Nadiya and I were waiting in the hall and Surovtsev met us: “Wait a minute." Our eyes were popping out with amazement: a jumped-up Ukrainian in Kuchino! We had no idea that he had been appointed to look after Myroslav and other Ukrainians.

So Zenko Krasivsky was a great tutor of Myroslav. He came to us from Morshyn very often, kept in touch, they cooperated with Myroslav very well. Similarly with Sverstiuk Myroslav is also on good terms, and Popadiuk, and that’s all to it. Because the rest of them were in Lviv: Horyn, Chornovil. They used to meet together, but that was no warm relations.

About my brothers. My eldest brother Anton, a lawyer, was arrested in 1944. It was the worst period: at the time almost the entire Ukrainian intelligentsia was arrested. He was in the forefront of those who were detained. He was condemned to twenty years of hard labor. He served only three years in the gold mines in Magadan, he failed to survive and died. I was afraid that my fate would be the same as the fate of my mother, who did not live to see her son. But God gave me a different fate, and I thank him for that.

My second brother, Yaroslav, was a musician and he was also persecuted by the KGB. He was a softy and soon broke down, he conceived a liking for alcohol and then he went phut. He died of all sorts of persecution and tuberculosis. One fell a victim to the communist regime and the other was the like victim as well, you may say.

One my sister Mariya emigrated to Australia and lives there in Perth now. She has a large family. She is the happiest among us. She is a holder of the Order of Australia for what she is doing for the Ukrainian community. Two my late sisters Lena and Nusia lived here in Drohobych. So out of the whole family there remain two sisters only: I, the youngest of the sisters, and the one in Australia, the eldest.

Of course, I do not complain, God forbid; I am happy that I have the free Ukraine, for which my guys-co-villagers fought. I ask God to make Ukraine last forever, to make us, Ukrainians, smart, strong and staunch in order to preserve her and to always remember that our boys were killed in action with her name on lips. We must never forget this and bring up our children in this spirit.

V.Ovsiyenko: Therefore we are targeting on these activities. I am not tired of repeating once and again that history, unfortunately, is not always what happened in reality but what was recorded. And if people, who know how it was, do not go about writing the true version of developments, then chances are that new people will come and write down facts as they know them, understand them or like they need them to be, and that will be history .

L. Y. Marynovych: I had a coworker, one such Nina, who maintained that Banderovetses slew and killed our people. I say to her, "Nina, in our village we had two cases when one person was hanged and another was shot. So about one I just cannot say anything, but in the second case I was a witness. He was a teacher himself; at parents' meetings, in the presence of many people he criticized Banderovetses.” The Banderovetses admonished him: “Vladek, stow that nonsense!” He disregarded their warnings. Of course, they had to kill him because he even used to visit outposts and they were afraid that he would give all and everybody away. So he died. But there were also many fallen Banderovetses or insurgents who refused to surrender to the enemy.

V.Ovsiyenko: Somehow or other, we have lived to see the independence, while many people died in waiting for it. So we are happier.

L. Y. Marynovych: Right, we are happier. I cried when I heard for the first time “Prayer for Ukraine” and “Ukraine Has Not Yet Died”; I still cry when I hear it. I think: Oh Lord! My brother died, for what? He was tried on two charges and he got twenty years of hard labor for he had a book of music where at the end there was “Ukraine Has Not Yet Died” and also when he was a prosecutor under the Germans he sentenced a thief to furtigation with 25 beech rods, and the accused testified against him when Muscovites came. And so he got twenty years of hard labor! Did he commit a crime against the Soviet regime? No! So, the regime sought to do away with our intelligentsia. I remember it, and my children are well aware of this, and I tell all and everybody about such persecutions. But, unfortunately, the communist propaganda made its dirty deed and many people do not believe, though they read about them, and listen but do not believe that there were such persecutions. It’s a pity that nothing can be done.

V.Ovsiyenko: Education should become a priority: we need to tell people about it, write about it, and lecture to schoolchildren and students.

L. Y. Marynovych: You should lecture at school, because telling at home is one thing and telling at school is another pair of shoes. Of course, the parents should teach their children as, for example, I taught my children: they know all firemen’s songs, they know the whole history of our Village of Viysko, because I, though it was scaring to say (because the child is a child, and a child hears something and goes outside and may speak out), but I was sure that my children would not do this. They were brought up in completely different conditions.

V.Ovsiyenko: Yes, Myroslav also pays attention to the fact, that he combined patriotism and national education with the membership in the Young Communist League. He thought that in the framework of Komsomol the patriotic education was possible. He speaks directly about it, and it's very good that he gives a truthful account of it.

L. Y. Marynovych: Yes, the school did its bit somehow. He was an overachieving pupil, but he was very fair. Everybody knew that Myroslav was a truth-seeker to such an extent that, for example, when someone got three out of five he immediately went to the principal and said, "The boy’s answer wasn’t worth three out of five, his answer was worth four out of five, so why did you give him three out of five? It was just a truth-seeking boy. When the Helsinki Group was in the making, he could not stand aloof; he did it inspiredly.

Once more I can say about my Myroslav that he is extremely kind person. Although it may be, for example, that sometimes I am more afraid of him than of my daughter. The daughter may shout at me while Myroslav may say one word and I have to listen to it and do as he says. Because he is telling the truth, he is a well-spoken man, he tells it in a way a Christian should tell. I am very proud of him because he wants every Ukrainian to be a good Christian and a good man and a good patriot honoring his parents, his religion, and his past. He is good at it.

V.Ovsiyenko: The recording took place on February 2, 2000. Mother of Myroslav Marynovych Ms. Liuba.


[1] Since August 1, 1934, Stebnyk was a town and a gmina center. Now it is a part of Drohobych (translator’s note).

[2] Since the mid-50s Vasylkiv with its big airbase was a highly militarized settlement (translator’s note).

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