On a publication in the Tablet about the Security Service’s visit to Father Gudziak
Myroslav Marynovych, former political prisoner and Vice-Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University has responded to a short article published on 10 July in the British journal The Tablet. In it the author Jonathon Luxmore quotes the Bishop for Kharkiv and Zaporizhya Marian Buchek as saying that there seemed to have been a misunderstanding between the Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, which the Rector, Father Boris Gudziak had supposedly hyped up in order to make himself seem a martyr, and that he had not heard of anybody bothering Catholics whose rights were guaranteed by the Constitution. “Turning to the Tablet, Bishop Buchek refuted the assertion of an anti-Catholic campaign being waged under the new Head of State Viktor Yanukovych” [the name is misspelled in the text).
In response to this publication, the Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University has sent a letter to The Tablet in which he writes that:
On 10 July The Tablet published a short article by Jonathon Luxmore in which he commented on the visit by an agent of the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU] on 18 May 2010 to the office of Father Boris Gudziak, Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv – the only such institute in the former Soviet Union.
During this meeting the agent warned the Rector of possible consequences if students took part in a protest against some aspects of policy of the new regime. He gave the Rector a letter from the leadership of the SBU and asked him to read and sign it, thus indicating that he was aware of its contents. The agent stipulated that the Rector could not keep the letter or make a copy of it, even though the letter was addressed to him. Under such circumstances, Father Gudziak refused to sign, or even read this letter and published a Memorandum on the incident (http://ucu.edu.ua/eng/news/549/ )
Myroslav Marynovych writes that in posting the quote from a Catholic Bishop from Ukraine, Marian Buchek, the Tablet is making “a serious allegation against a committed priest who, observing a return to KGB methods, came out in defence of civil liberties”. He writes that the allegations are all the more painful because they come from a Bishop and / or from a journalist who lived in Poland and are well aware how cases where priests collaborated with the authorities or security services discredited the clergy in socialist countries. One signature on a security service document was capable of destroying the reputation of a respected religious figure, if not the entire institution.
Neither the Bishop, nor Mr Luxmore, spoke with the Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University regarding the incident. The latter was widely reported with the facts and their seriousness being acknowledged not only by foreign governments, NGOs, independent media outlets, but also by government representatives. They were not denied by anyone.
On 26 May in a telephone conversation with Father Gudziak, the Deputy Head of the President’s Administration Anna Herman called the incident “appalling and a bizarre misunderstanding”. During this conversation, Ms Herman stated that she and the Head of the SBU, Valery Khoroshkovsky, were prepared to come, even that same day, to the Ukrainian Catholic University to make their apologies.
A month later, on 25 June, Mr Khoroshkovsky and Ms Herman came to the University. There was a non-confrontational meeting during which the visitors were able to find out about various aspects of the University’s work. Father Gudziak, as well as the Vice Rector on External Relations expressed the University’s concern and its wish to work normally for the normal future of Ukraine as it emerges from its destructive totalitarian past. On 2 July Ms. Herman made a public statement, saying that Mr Khoroshkovsky had apologised for the incident of 18 May and that the Rector had accepted the apology.
In fact there was no formal apology, but Mr Khoroshkovsky did indeed express regret over the sharp tone of some of his press statements. On 31 May he stated that for all his respect for professionals, in this case the Rector of UCU, “nobody and nothing” would prevent the SBU carrying out their work decisively and “severely”, using all means available to the SBU for the good of the country. He also hinted then that the response of the Rector could be part of foreign “technology” in order to destabilize the country (see also khpg.org/index.php?id=1277927174 ).
Mr Marynovych stresses that if the official representative of the President informs the public that the Head of the SBU came to Lviv in order to visit UCU and its Rector and apologize, this it would seem means that the President’s Administration saw something serious enough to apologize for.
The statement attributed by Jonathon Luxmure to Bishop Buchek in the Tablet on 10 July 2010 arouses serious questions. What is more important, it is a stain on the reputation of a Priest and the Head of the University who showed courage in standing up for the rights of his students, his academic institution, autonomy and civic liberties of all lecturers and students in higher education in Ukraine. Myroslav Marynovych expresses the hope that the defamatory remark about the Rector was the result of a misunderstanding between the Bishop and the Tablet correspondent, and suggests that the Tablet should rectify this serious mistake.
Since the author is away, and we have no access to the English-language material, the above is not strictly a translation of the text here: http://ucu.edu.ua/news/2885/