Ukrainian poet, translator, and human rights activist Vasyl Stus died on September 4, 1985, in a camp for political prisoners in Perm oblast, Russia. Last Wednesday, his memory was honored in the Sviatoshyn district of Kyiv, on the site of the future Vasyl Stus Park. In particular, a memorial action “Add your clod of earth to Vasyl Stus’ memory mound” took place there. It was organized by the activists of the local Green World organization, who have been lobbying the creation of Vasyl Stus Park at the spot where he lived with his family from 1965 to 1972 for seven years.
More than 200 people came to commemorate the poet, including young people. According to the organizers’ estimation, students from 13 schools of Sviatoshyn district came to lay flowers and add a handful of earth to the memorial mound. Some of the school students recited poems written by Stus. “I am going to recite ‘On Golden Straw,’” tells the 11th grade student of the Kyiv Gymnasium No. 287 Mykyta BEREHULIA to The Day. “This poem shows the author’s attitude towards life: he was a very optimistic person.”
One of the organizers and sponsors of the park Viktor TKACHENKO explains that the fact that “children came to the event is the public’s achievement.” “But unfortunately, nobody knows where Stus Park is today. Everyone confuses it with that cleared park, which Kyiv City State Administration sold into private property and resolved to create a park across the street,” adds Tkachenko. According to him, the organizers decided to establish a memorial stone with “Vasyl Stus Park” inscribed on it, and build a mound in order for everyone to see where this park is located.
Traveling journalist, The Day’s author, and The Day’s Person of the Year (2010) Mykola Khriienko as well as political prisoner and publisher Vasyl Ovsiienko also participated in the event. “People, and especially the youth, need an example of someone courageous, brave, and morally irreproachable. That is what Vasyl Stus was like, since his whole life was service, and he understood his calling in this world,” Ovsiienko summed up.
TO THE POINT
A demonstration of the documentary Vasyl Stus. Special Look (2009, TVRip) took place on September 4 in the reading hall of the Lviv Oblast Universal Scientific Library at 13 Shevchenko Avenue. The demonstration was a part of the project “History in focus,” which was organized jointly by the social movement Zarvanytsia Initiative, the National Memorial Museum of Victims to Occupational Regimes “The Prison on Lontsky Street,” and the Lviv Oblast Universal Scientific Library. “We show Ukrainian documentaries which relate to key events and figures in Ukraine’s history,” explained the activist of the Zarvanytsia Initiative Yurii Antoniak as he told The Day about the goal of the project. “On Vasyl Stus Memorial Day, September 4, our event was certainly dedicated to this outstanding, perhaps even the greatest, Ukrainian poet of the 20th century. He is called Shevchenko of the 20th century for a reason.” “I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that this film is still demonstrated, since it was created four years ago,” told co-author and host of the film Oleh Manchura to The Day. If the film is still demonstrated, it is still relevant. Which means that nothing has changed over the past four years. As a matter of fact, such things should be part of the state informational policy, such things should be taught in schools, because obviously it is easier to perceive history not from textbooks and teachers’ lectures, but from visualization: students have to see a person or an event. In my opinion, Ukraine’s current informational space is either emptied out or stuffed with primitivism. Moreover, Ukrainians are still looking at the world through somebody else’s glasses. Stus, perhaps, was one of those who wanted to use his own, Ukrainian glasses. Let me remind that at that time, a discussion was going on whether the Donetsk University should be named after Stus, since he studied there. Well, they never renamed it. Which means, nothing has changed.”
By Tetiana KOZYRIEVA, The Day, Lviv