01.03.2010 | Andriy Kokotyukha

Writer threatened over opposition to morality commission?


Late in the evening of 25 February well-known artist and writer Les Podervyansky received a call on his landline from a stranger who warned him to stop his activity aimed at discrediting the National Expert Commission on the Protection of Public Morality [in Ukrainian often abbreviated as NEK - translator].  The man did not identify himself and the warning sounded like an unconcealed threat.

Les Podervyansky explains that he answered the call, but that the person on the other end, without identifying himself, asked to speak to Maria Oleksandrivna [Maria Hanzhenko, Podervyansky’s wife]. Maria says that when she answered, she heard the following: “You don’t know me. Your husband, Les has begun getting involved in State matters which don’t concern him. He has begun taking part in actions against the Morality Commission. I mean AntiNEK [the name of the campaign launched by Podervyansky and other prominent writers and artists – translator]. You tell him that this isn’t his business at all. So that problems don’t arise for him. You understand”. In response to Maria’s question why this subject was being discussed with her, not her husband, she was told: “Writers are creative people. They’re like children, they don’t understand what they’re doing. You’ll explain it to him better!”

As reported already, on 15 January an artistic protest action entitled “AntiNEK: NO to Censorship!” took place in Kyiv. An Initiative Group made up of writers Serhiy Zhadan, Les Podervyansky, Andriy Bondar and Yury Andrukhovych called on the public and Ukrainian artists to support their proposal to introduce public control over every decision passed by the Commission

From unofficial sources it is also known that the Head of NEK, Vasyl Kostytsky has on more than one occasion made negative comments about Podervyansky. NEK called the artistic protest action “PR for writers who are being forgotten on NEK’s good name”.

“Telekritika” managed to contact Mr Kostytsky. As was to be expected, he denies NEK’s involvement in the telephone threats. “If some idiot rang and scared your wife, what’s NEK got to do with it?”  The author of the article, A. Kokotyukha, says that Mr Kostytsky indirectly called on the organizers of such protests to invite him personally and members of NEK to a discussion. He also said that while he respects journalists, he is ready to go to court over slander, and again alleged that many people are getting PR out of NEK and that he doesn’t like it when they make themselves a name at his expense.

In view of the fact that Podervyansky and his wife are hardly in need of special PR connected with the activities of NEK, it is worth noting that over recent times the Ukrainian intelligentsia has been expecting various forms of repression, prohibitions and restrictions, and everything connected with “tightening the screws” in the humanitarian sphere which are anticipated from the new regime.

Meanwhile Les Podervyansky intends in the next few days to report the threats to the police.

Slightly abridged from an article by Andriy Kokotyukha at

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