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19.10.2007

Remembering Petro Grigorenko

   

“I don’t think that one person’s life can serve as an example for others. Each person must travel their own path. If what I relate can give anyone cause for reflection, I will consider that I did not work in vain”

  Petro Grigorenko, from his memoirs

People have been honouring the memory of Petro Grigorenko, born 100 years ago this week in many parts of Ukraine.  On Tuesday, 16 October, Andriy Grigorenko joined people in Crimea to remember his father. The events were organized by the Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar people and the Crimean branch of the Popular Movement of Ukraine.

In Simferopol a joint Muslim and Orthodox prayer service was held near the monument to Petro Grigorenko erected, at the initiative of the Mejilis, on one of Simferopol’s main squares.  One of those who spoke after the prayer service was Mustafa Dzemilyev, Head of the Mejilis, and a man whose ties with Petro Grigorenko date back to the 1960s and 1970s, when Grigorenko spoke out in defence of the Crimean Tatars, and of Dzemilyev himself.  It was Grigorenko’s active support for the Crimean Tatars  that led to his arrest and forced incarceration in a special psychiatric “hospital” for five years.

An important part of the remembrance events was a meeting with local students. This was attended by Mustafa Dzemilyev, veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement Aishe Seitmuratova and Andriy Grigorenko.

On 18 October, an evening in memory of Petro Grigorenko was held in Kyiv.  Those present included Andriy Grigorenko,  Leonid Plyushch, who was also a victim of punitive psychiatry, and an external representative of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and Semyon Gluzman who was sentenced in the early 1970s to a long period in a Soviet labour camp for writing an independent assessment of the “clinical assessments” which were used to justify the General’s diagnosis as mentally unfit.

Andriy Grigorenko is today, 19 October, a welcome guest in Kharkiv.

It is very much to be regretted that the Verkhovna Rada a year ago proved incapable of understanding the stature of Petro Grigorenko and the meaning of his life and work for Ukraine.

People throughout the country this week had no such problem of understanding.

 

Halya Coynash, based on information at www.day.kiev.ua and www.unian.net

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