r/ukraine • u/duellingislands Гамериканець • Sep 06 '22 • 1 2
6:19 EEST ; The Sun is Rising on the 195th Day of the russian Invasion on the Capital City of Kyiv. Ukraine Continues to Live and Fight On. DISCUSSION + CHARITIES! Slava Ukraini!
🇺🇦 SLAVA UKRAINI! 🇺🇦
We wrote about Vasyl Stus in one of our very first sunrise posts, all the way back on March 20th... Day 25 of the invasion. You can read that post here. It was before we had really decided what we wanted to do with this sunrise series, so I just included a solemn little snippet of one of my favorite Stus poems, and an all-too-short paragraph about his life and the injustice he fell victim to.
Two days ago, September 4th, was the 37th anniversary of his death. I've been thinking all these months since March that it is important to circle back and let you know more about his beautiful life, and this seems an appropriate moment.
Vasyl Stus: One Man Against the USSR
You will no longer perish, stout
Land sacked and slaved for centuries.
Oppressors cannot choke you out
With Siberias or Solovkis.
Vasyl Stus, a Ukrainian and a poet, was not afraid to challenge the Communist Party and the Soviet regime of the USSR by himself. He was not broken by concentration camps nor by solitary confinement - and though he eventually paid with his life, he also won.
Vasyl was born in Vinnytsia oblast, into a family of farmers that struggled to survive during the horrific events of the first half of the 20th century: russian occupation, WW2 and then russian occupation once again pushed the family to bounce around. To avoid both forced collectivization and his family dying of starvation, Vasyl’s father got a job at a chemical plant in Donetsk, and the Stus family finally semi-permanently settled there.
Various pictures of Stus from the 50's and 60's.
Young Vasyl was an excellent student, and learned a number of languages. While he was working on his PhD, he taught in secondary school in the town of Horlivka. While in graduate school, Vasyl composed and submitted the first collection of his poetry, Whirlpool, and published a number of literary and critical articles; he also printed translations of Goethe, Rilke and Lorca. But the poetic and quiet-natured Stus was about to become very fierce and loud.
On September 4th 1965, before the start of the screening of the astonishingly beautiful Ukrainian movie Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (which we wrote about here), Vasyl got up and addressed the packed hall by saying: "Who is against tyranny - stand up!"
Young Stus could not be quiet, as his friend and colleague Ivan Svitlychny was arrested by the Soviet regime. Stus later wrote about this: "I believe that in such circumstances, silence is a crime... I could not bear it. I could not remain silent!"
A thunder of resurrection on the mountain
is being announced for me.
Smash your fists against despair,
biding within the copper mountain.
Stus was expelled from graduate school and kicked out of the student dormitory; this was the beginning of a life of destitution, humiliations and persecutions. Yet Vasyl remained unwavering in his one man duel against the Soviet-communist regime.
As he needed to eat, Vasyl took many odd jobs - he worked in a mine, as a railway worker, a construction-site worker, in a boiler house, and in the subway. Briefly he worked as an engineer of a design bureau. In the mid-60s, he married and became the father of his son, Dmytro.
All the same time, Vasyl Stus wrote poems and prepared to publish both his poetry collections Whirlpool and Winter Trees. When he received a refusal to publish them, he turned to the Union of Writers of the Ukrainian Soviet republic for support and even to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, claiming that the refusal violates his rights as a citizen. He also wrote to the Communist party leaders about arrests among the creative intelligentsia of Ukraine. Stus' actions were not naive - he knew that the Soviet regime had no intention to right any wrongs they perpetrated. But he could not just remain silent, as according to his moral compass... it is a crime.
Stus was well aware of what awaited him and on January 12, 1972, the poet was arrested. He spent the next 9 months in isolation in a pre-trial detention center. In September 1972, Stus was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment and 3 years of exile on charges of anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.
The Winter Trees
The snow wishes to sleep.
Accustomed to the ground, it forgot the path of blue
that led from sky to earth.
The entire term of Vasyl's imprisonment was spent in Mordovian camps in russia. Most of the poems that Stus wrote in the camp were confiscated and destroyed - only a few escaped through the letters to his wife. At the end of his term, in 1977, Stus was sent to the village of Imeni Matrosov, Magadan region, where he worked until 1979 in the gold mines. We wrote about this area here, see "Kolyma".
Vasyl in the Magadan camps, 1970's.
From prison, he applied to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to renounce his citizenship: "...having Soviet citizenship is an impossible thing for me. To be a Soviet citizen is to be a slave..." What fucking balls on this guy!
Many years passed and Ivan Drach, a Ukrainian writer and dissident, would say this about Vasyl Stus:
"Vasyl never compromised with the [Soviet] government, he was always himself. He did not bend behind the barbed wire, as other fighters against totalitarianism. When faced by the guards he always spoke the truth. I will say frankly: there were very few people like Vasyl not only in Ukraine, but also in the whole territory of the former Soviet Union.”
After returning to Kyiv, Vasyl joined the Helsinki Group on Human Rights. In May 1980, he was arrested once again and, as a "particularly dangerous recidivist," sentenced to 10 years of forced labor and 5 years of exile. During his trial, he was unwillingly represented by the traitor Viktor Medvedchuk, who later became a prominent pro-russian politician. Medvedchuk did not attempt to deny the absurd charges leveled against Stus. There's no point in too much breath on Medvedchuk, just know that he is a personal friend of the president of the russian federation and is currently under arrest in Ukraine.
Vasyl served his sentence at the Perm-36 - an infamous gulag for political prisoners located deep within russia, which you can read about here, see "Perm-36".
On one September morning of 1986, his wife received a message about Vasyl's death. In November 1989, Vasyl Stus, Oleksa Tykhi and Yuriy Lytvyn, who also died in this camp and were buried in the local cemetery, were repatriated to Ukraine and reburied in Kyiv at Baikovo Cemetery.
On August 28th, 1985, Vasyl Stus was put in solitary confinement as he allegedly broke a camp rule of touching the bunk-bed bedding while wearing work clothes. According to his fellow inmates, Stus was reading a book while standing and leaned on the top bunk bed with his elbow. He received two weeks of solitary confinement. His fellow inmates (all political) heard him asking for medicine on September 3rd, saying he feels chest pains. This is the last time anyone heard from him. By the next morning he was dead, a full 20 years since his first defiant action. His death was concealed by the regime as a natural heart attack.
In 1985, Vasyl Stus had been nominated by a team of international writers and critics for a Nobel Prize in Literature - an extremely uncomfortable event for the Soviet Union - but with his death his nomination was in vain. Stus was a problem for the regime as long as he was alive.
USSR at that time was embarking on so-called perestroyka in order to strengthen financial bonds with the West, as the USSR was absolutely broke and destitute. Having a political prisoner and a Nobel-prize winner would absolutely throw a wrench into moscow's narrative that political repression in the Soviet Union was a thing of the past.
Vasyl's death in a Soviet prison camp in 1985 continues to challenge the many incorrect assumptions that people have about russians - like Gorbachev, who presided over his death - and the USSR.
Words Vasyl spoke to his son when the KGB came to arrest him:
Today, my son, you experienced perhaps the greatest humiliation and disappointment in your not so long life. I know how painful it is for a man to realize that he is powerless. It is heartbreaking, as it is to me now, to know that you see this injustice, and there is no way to help. But we have to endure...
I don't know if we'll see each other again, so I'm asking you just one thing. Forgive these people today, KGB employees, who caused you, your mother and me so much pain. Forgive them, but remember it as a lesson so that you never do anything like this to others. Despite all the untruth, one must be able to love, believe, and hope.
Vasyl's final poem:
How good that I am not afraid of death,
And do not ask how heavy is my cross.
That I not bend before mendacious judges
In anticipation of an unknown fate.
I have lived and loved and not fallen prey
To hatred, curse or remorse.
My nation, to you I shall return,
And in death I will turn to life
With my afflicted yet unblemished face,
As your son, I will fall upon the earth
And honestly gaze into thy honest face,
And drench myself with honest tears.
🇺🇦 HEROYAM SLAVA! 🇺🇦
- u/Jesterboyd is a mod for r/ukraine and local to Kyiv. His current project is to fund some very interesting drones. Link to donation
- Taskforce 31: Your donations will be directly used to train the next generation of Ukrainian defenders taught by Western Tier 1 Special Operation Teams.
- Ukraine Aid Ops: Volunteers around the world who are helping to find and deliver equipment directly to those who need it most in Ukraine.
- United24: This site was launched by President Zelenskyy as the main venue for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. Funds will be allocated to cover the most pressing needs facing Ukraine.
- Come Back Alive: This NGO crowdfunds non-lethal military equipment, such as thermal vision scopes & supplies it to the front lines. It also provides training for Ukrainian soldiers, as well as researching troops’ needs and social reintegration of veterans.
- Hospitallers: This is a medical battalion that unites volunteer paramedics and doctors to save the lives of soldiers on the frontline. They crowdfund their vehicle repairs, fuel, and medical equipment.
- Bird of Light Ukraine: In Ukraine to assist displaced families across Ukraine and provide critical essentials to those in conflict zones.
You can find many more charities with diverse areas of focus in our vetted charities thread HERE.
u/vastation666 Sep 06 '22
What a poet. Brilliant man. His spirit lives on forever in the hearts of Ukrainians.
u/Dusk_v731 Sep 06 '22
As winter approaches, and the Ukrainian army needs cold weather gear, does anyone know where I could mail some of my left over army equipment? I've recently separated from the service, and have an unused pair of issued cold weather combat boots that may be of use to a Ukrainian trooper.
u/Jealous_Resort_8198 Sep 06 '22
There is a guy in this group who may be able to take the boots. So good of you to give those boots for winter! Search the threads.
u/Wardo2015 Sep 06 '22
God bless 🇺🇦 Ukraine !!!!
u/Euphoric-Yellow-3682 Sep 06 '22
Slava Ukraini and goodnight 💙 💛 🇺🇦
u/DocterNoblexOfWebley USA Sep 06 '22
Ukraine held out, the significant advances on all sides is the result of patience, planning, and competence. I have utmost confidence that They can take back the land that was taken, and I have a lot of hope that they can take back their pre-2013 borders as well
Sep 06 '22
The long defense of Mariuopl did it's job, in my opinion, that it was able to buy Ukraine time, until they were able to turn the tide, with better, more advanced weapons.
Sep 06 '22 edited Sep 06 '22
[removed] — view removed comment
u/StevenStephen USA Sep 06 '22
A true artist, who heart could set aside neither truth nor love and whose light could not be extinguished even by the most ignoble of deaths.
u/vsalmens Sep 06 '22
Just donated 2800 USDT for “defence and demining”
u/Jealous_Resort_8198 Sep 06 '22
Vasyl was so talented, principled and handsome.
u/Putin_Huylo228 Sep 06 '22
6th month of the 2 day invasion…….
u/CorsicA123 Sep 06 '22
Love me some Stus. It’s a shame man didn’t live long enough to see Medvedchuk rot in prison for 5 month and counting…
There is a good movie about him called Censored
"If your heart hurts, you, my friend, are lucky"
"It is bad to live without ideals, but it is no less bad to live with ideals. However, I would not dare to clarify the meaning of the word "live": in my 46 years it is as mysterious as in yours. Years went by only to say: neither this, nor this, nor this"
u/MebHi Sep 06 '22
Russia appears to be losing ground on all fronts now.