Ukrainian PEN Club Centre Statement
The Ukrainian PEN Centre is outraged over the attempts by the Kharkiv local authorities to disrupt the uncovering in Kharkiv of a plaque in memory of the renowned Ukrainian Slavist avic scholar and laureate of the Taras Shevchenko National Award, Yury Volodymyrovych Shevelyov and gross comments from the Head of the Kharkiv Regional Administration which contain false allegations against the scholar of supposed “aiding the fascists” and overt insults of representatives of the Kharkiv Ukrainian intelligentsia, including the well-known Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan.
The primitive ignorance of those in power does not discredit those whom it tries to denigrate, but in the first instance the authorities themselves. The reputation of Yury Shevelyov himself, Professor of Harvard and Columbia University; a foreign member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; President of the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences in the USA; member of the American Linguistic Society, Polish Institute of Art and Science in the USA, honorary PhD from the Alberta and Lundsk Universities, the Karazin Kharkiv National University, the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy does not need our defence.
The foul slander of Yury Shevelyov is yet another confirmation that figures of such calibre are in permanent and inevitable opposition to the world of dark primitivism. Shevelyov himself would have been appalled if such primitivism accepted him as one of their people. It is therefore not Yury Shevelyov who needs to be defended, but the honourable name of Kharkiv itself that is in need of defence. We know that there are many people there for whom the name of Kharkiv-born Yury Shevelyov is their pride. We also know that for those currently in power it is first and foremost power that is of significance, and not honour and decency. Therefore the thrust of our protest is aimed primarily at those Kharkiv residents who have not become totally indifferently and have not lost their sense of shame. How long will you tolerate a situation where you and oblast are represented by people whose hand in a normal society they would not wish to shake.
President of the Ukrainian PEN Club, Myroslav Marynovych.