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17.11.2004

“It is always the time for Calvary”.

   

On 8 October the two-volume edition of the Kharkov group for human rights protection “Three revolts of Sichkos” was presented in the Kyiv House of teachers.

It is sufficient for a man to take part in one revolt during all his life, especially if he will be condemned for this to 25, or at least 10, years of incarceration. The family of Sichkos participated in three revolts. Stefaniya Petrash (1925-1996) and Petro Sichko (born in 1926) became members of the Youth network of the Organization of Ukrainian nationalists as early as in years of “first Bolsheviks” and the German occupation. In 1944 they went underground. Although their generation did not win this fight on two fronts, they preserved their own honor and honor of their people. Petrash and Sichko were condemned in 1947, Petro – for 25 and Stefaniya – for 10 years. In autumn 1948 they got to Magadan (Kolyma), where, in 1954, they got acquainted – in spite of bars and barbed wire.

In 1956, when they were transferred from incarceration to the exile, they married without benediction of parents and church, but their marriage was registered on heavens. Soon their first son Vasyl was born.

At the beginning of Khrushchev’s “thaw” Petro and Stefaniya were released and celebrated the Easter of 1957 already home. They worked hardly to win some place in their enslaved motherland. Hundreds of thousands of rebels perished in battles and concentration camps. When the children of those, who remained alive, grew up, the red devil demanded the most expensive ransom: their souls. And some of them made a compromise with their consciousness. But not Sichkos. That is why their son Vasyl was expelled from the Kyiv faculty of journalism after two years, another son, Volodymir studied at mathematical faculty only for two years and a half, and daughter Oksana had to enter a medical institute in Latvia. So, it is natural that 21-years-old Vasyl Sichko joined the organized struggle for human rights: in 1977 he became a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. His 52-years-old father started his fight for the second time.

This was a period of renascence of Ukrainian national spirit. Yet, the revenge for the freedom-loving impulses was around the corner: the Group was disbanded, and on 5 July 1979, soon after the speech on the grave of Volodymir Ivasiuk, father Petro and son Vasyl got behind the bars. 20-years-old Volodymir followed them: he repudiated the Soviet citizenship and refused to go to the Soviet Army. Mother and wife Stefaniya lived between three camps and home. Only in 1981 she went to appointments and brought parcels for 33 times. Yet, the results of her visits were, more frequent, grievous: at the minute, when she appeared near the fence, her husband and sons were thrown to punishment cells.

This was a desperate 6-year war of the heroic family with the entire Empire of Evil. Then, owing to Stefaniya, who regarded herself as an undeclared member of Ukrainian Helsinki Group, the names of Sichkos became known to the entire democratic world. Sichkos won this war. The Empire of Evil started to stagger.

The third war of Sichkos began at once after their release. These were the years of the so-called perestroika. People always have need for somebody brave and sure of his rightfulness, who will go in the vanguard. The selfless heroes, like Sichkos, felt the spirit and needs of the time, and again they became the first -- and people followed them.

 This struggle did not finish with declaration of independent. It lasts even now. Stefaniya is already dead, 40-years-old Vasyl tragically perished, but the glorious family of Sichkos still exists.

The two-volume book “Three revolts of Sichkos” published by the Kharkov group for human rights protection in the printing house “Folio” in the series of memorial editions includes the tales of participants of the resistance movement, documents, letters and photos. It must be admitted that I rarely saw so artistically and spiritually perfect works.

Story of Sichkos’ family is a striking page of history of our people. They were the best representatives of this people, on which the all Ukraine stands. As many as possible young people should read this book and ask themselves: and how I shall live? And they may not say: “It was such time then” or “Now the times are different”. Well, every generation undergoes its own ordeals. Vasyl Stus said once: “It is always the time for Calvary”.

Vasyl Ovsienko,
Compiler of the edition,
Laureate of the premium named after Vasyl Stus

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