12.12.2001 | E. Zakharov, co-chairman of Kharkov Group for human rights protection

New books published in the framework of the international project ’The East Europe is our common land


A new three-volume edition of selected works by Mykhail Kheyfets was published in the historical and literary series devoted to the resistance to the totalitarian regime in the USSR. The series is published jointly by Kharkov Group for human rights protection and the publishing house ’Folio’.

Mykhail Kheyfets is a man of letters and publicist from Leningrad, who worked mainly in the genre of historical prose. In 1974 he was condemned to four years of incarceration and two years of exile for the foreword to a five-volume samizdat edition of Iosif Brodsky, who had been recently driven from the USSR.

From the captivity in the stern regime concentration camp Kheyfets managed to pass outside (and farther to Paris) two books: ’Mesto i vremia’ (’Place and time’, ’one of the most important documents of recent years’, according to the opinion of the magazine ’Kultura’, the main organ of the Polish emigration of that time) and ’Russkoye pole’ (’Russian field’). These two books came to the first volume of the selected works and they were not published before in the former USSR. The second volume contains the book ’Puteshestvie iz Dubrovlaga v Ermak’ (’The journey from Dubrovlag to Ermak’), written by Kheyfets during his exile in Kazakhstan, as well his comments to ’Zapiski nezagovorshchika’ (’Notes of a non-conspirator’) by Efim Etkind; these works have been published for the first time. In the appendix a remarkable, in my opinion, essay ’Iosif Brodskiy i nashe pokolenie’ (’Iosif Brodskiy and our generation’) is published. It is for this essay that Kheyfets was condemned. The essay was kept in the archives of the Leningrad KGB and extracted from there by V. Ioffe, the co-chairman of the Petersburg ’Memorial’ specially for our edition. The third volume contains those literary works about Soviet concentration camps that Kheyfets wrote abroad. Living in Israel, Kheyfets learned that almost all his colony mates, Ukrainian and Armenian national-democrats, were arrested again. In order to attract the attention of the world public to the prisoners of consciousness, he wrote two new books: ’Ukrainskie siluety’ (’Ukrainian silhouettes’) and ’Voennoplenny sekretar’ (’The POW secretary’), containing essays on the two Ukrainian poets Vasyl Stus and M. Rudenko, a journalist Viacheslav Chornovil, a leader of the National united party P. Ayrikian and other political prisoners. The book ’Ukrainian silhouettes’ was assessed in its time as one of the best descriptions of the Ukrainian resistance of 70-80s (in the American magazine ’World literature today’) and translated to Ukrainian and German. It should be noted that, as well in the case of Brodsky, Kheyfets at once appreciated Stus’ great poetical talent (’There is nobody better in the Ukrainian poetry now’). He specially learned the Ukrainian language in order to understand better Stus’ poetry, he even tried to translate it to Russian. The books are illustrated by campmates of Kheyfets: Boris Penson and Mark Dymshits, as well as a number of photos of political prisoners from the archives of the author, Kharkov Group for human rights protection and Moscow ’Memorial’. Mikhail Lemkhin, a well-known photographer now residing in San Francisco, sent several photos especially for our edition. Most of the illustrations is published for the first time.

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