The Association of independent creative intelligentsia awarded its Vasyl Stus prizes
Every year on the Orthodox Christmas eve the Association of independent creative intelligentsia awards the Vasyl Stus prizes. The date is selected because on 12 January 1972 a successive wave of repressions against the Ukrainian intelligentsia began, and, as a result, Vasyl Stus and the most active people from the generation of the 60s appeared behind the bars. By the initiative of the late Viacheslav Chornovil this day was declared as the Day of Ukrainian political convicts. In Soviet times this holiday was marked by hunger strikes and protests in prisons and concentration camps. Now it is marked by handing Vasyl Stus prizes.
This first non-state public prize was handed in 1989, at the time when nobody dared to establish any prize and hand it without agreement with the communist party organs. Evhen Sverstiuk, jointly with Igor and Irina Kalinets, organized this prize in Lviv, and then the authorities reacted very energetically. The first laureates of this prize were warned: either you remain on your job or you receive the prize.
During the last decade the laureates of the prize became Panas Zalyvakha, Ivan Svitlychny, Myhaylyna Kotsiubynska, Serhyi Moroz, Igor Zhuk, Olga Bogomolets& According to Evhen Svierstiuk, the president of the Association of independent creative intelligentsia, the Vasyl Stus prize is given for talent and bravery. All the awarded are unselfish people having great civil temper. There are many talented people, but only a few of them possess preparedness to serve the people like Vasyl Stus.
On 12 January 2000 three men were considered deserving the Vasyl Stus prize: composer Volodymir Guba, poet Moisey Fishbein, and the publicist and pedagogue Vasyl Ovsienko. At the ceremony of handing the prizes people spoke about a past and a present, about the growth of Vasyl Stus influence, on shaping the Ukrainian nation. V. Gubas music sounded (it was his piece Horrors from the cycle This pain to poems of Vasyl Stus). This music was in profound harmony with piercing, very Ukrainian poems of Moisey Fishbein, who, according to his passport, is a citizen of Israel, but he is more Ukrainian than many of those who live in Ukraine.
The former political prisoner Myhaylo Gorbal pointed out in his speech the great services in preservation of Vasyl Stus spiritual inheritance on the side of Vasyl Ovsienko - Stus old friend and cellmate. All agreed that the prize was handed to the most deserving.
M. Kazimir, newspaper Ukrainske slovo, 20 January
PL commentary: We sincerely congratulate Vasyl Ovsienko, a member of the Kharkiv Group for human rights protection, the coordinator of the program History of dissent in Ukraine, a frequent author of our bulletin.
We wish you luck, Vasyl! We wish you good health, creative inspiration and successes.