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Ivan Dziuba is 70.

Ivan Dziuba is 70

On 26 July Ivan Dziuba, one of the most outstanding figures of the Ukrainian culture, a critic, a specialist in literary studies, the most known author of the n samizdat, reached his 70th anniversary.

Ivan Dziuba was born to a family of a quarry worker. His father was killed at the front in 1943, his mother was a hospital attendant.

In 1949 Ivan Dziuba entered Donetsk pedagogical institute, from which he graduated in 1953 majoring in Russian philology. In 1953 – 1957 he was a post-graduate of the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the UkrSSR.

In 1953 – 1957 D. was a post-graduate of the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the UkrSSR. From 1957 Dziuba worked as an editor of the department of literary studies and criticism of the magazine ’Vitchizna’ (’Motherland’). In 1959 he became a member of the Union of Writers of Ukraine.

In 1962 I. Dziuba was dismissed from the magazine ’Vitchizna’ ’for ideological mistakes’.

I. Dziuba took an active part in the work of the Creative Youth Club founded in Kyiv in 1960 under aegis of the city Komsomol Committee. By and by young creative intelligentsia, whose spiritual leader was Ivan Svitlychny, began to dominate in the work of this club. Ivan Dziuba and E. Sverstiuk became the intellectual leaders of the club.

On 31 July D. held the memorial evening of L. Ukrainka in the central park of culture and rest in Kyiv; the memorial evening was held in the park alleys, since the authorities actually prohibited the commemoration meeting. This fact D. reflected in the ’Poyasnitelnaya zapiska’ (Explanatory note) that was distributed in samizdat.

In 1964 – 65 I. Dziuba worked as a literary consultant of the publishing house ’Molod’ (’Youth’). He was dismissed for taking part in the protests against political arrests among the Ukrainian intelligentsia in 1965. The loudest protest action of those times was Dziuba’s sppech at the review of Sergey Paradzhanov’s film ’Teni zabytykh predkov’ (Shadows of forgotten forefathers). Instead of discussing the film he spoke on the secret arrests among the young intelligentsia. The speech brought panic in the ranks of ’the official representatives’ and embarrassment in the hall. He was supported by V. Chornovil, V. Stus, M. Kotsiubinska and others.

As early as in 1963 Dziuba planned to write a work on the national policy in Ukraine. According to him, there existed then an urgent necessity of such analysis.

In the end of 1965 I. Dziuba directed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CC CPU) a letter with the protest against arrests among intelligentsia, explaining that this was not an adequate solution of the problems. He appended a manuscript that later became very well-known, it was ’Internatsionalism ili rusifikatsiya?’ (’Internationalism or rusification?’). Confining himself within the frame of the Soviet system, not refusing from the basic statements of the official ideology, Dziuba tried to draw the attention of the authorities to the state of the Ukrainian nation in the USSR. The strongest points of the book were the parts dedicated to the rusification, to the examples of the anti-Ukrainian phobias in the history of the Russian expansion and chauvinism.

The book was quickly distributed in samizdat, it was read throughout Ukraine. A real ’cult of Dziuba’ appeared among Ukrainian intelligentsia. The author himself, a very modest and delicate man, was not prepared to such popularity and such public role.

Rather soon the book ’Internatsionalism ili rusifikatsiya?’ got abroad, and in 1968 the publishing house ’Suchasnist’ (’Modernity’) in Munich published the work as a separate book. Later this book was translated to many languages and published in many countries, which resulted in persecutions of the author.

In summer of 1966 he was summoned to the CC CPU, where they proposed him to publish the refutation of the ’slanderous’ information printed in the West about the national problems in the USSR. Ivan Dziuba refused and then an article about him appeared in the press, where he was accused of ’bourgeois nationalism’. The Union of Writers of Ukraine was ordered to draw the proper conclusions concerning Dziuba. They held a ’friendly conversation’ with Dziuba, but it also did not give the desired result. On the contrary, a brilliant Dziuba’s report at the memorial evening devoted to the 30th anniversary of the poet V. Simonenko appeared in the foreign press.

In September 1966, on the day of mourning of 25 year since the mass shooting of Jews in Babiy Yar, Ivan Dziuba, together with Viktor Nekrasov, Geliy Snegiriov and Vladimir Voynovich, participated in the forbidden commemorative meeting and delivered a speech.

In 1967 Dziuba attended the court session where V. Chornovil was tried. After it Dziuba, I. Svitlychny, N. Svitlychny and L. Kostenko directed the letter of protest to P. Shelest (the first secretary of the CC CPU), where they characterized the trial as a brutal violation of the procedural norms and as an avenge to a man, who thinks otherwise and dares to criticize concrete actions of the concrete state organs.

The CC CPU organized the group, which compiled ’What and how does Ivan Dziuba defend?’. The brochure was signed with the pen name B. Stenchuk and was planned to be distributed abroad. Since it appeared very unconvincing, the distribution was cancelled. In 1069 V. Chornovil wrote the work ’What and how does B. Stenchuk defend, or 566 answers of ’internationalists’’, in which he uncovered the dishonest methods of the KGB work.

In December 1969 the Union of Writers of Ukraine started the process of expulsion of Dziuba. A meeting of the Union was held, but only two speakers demanded to expulse Dziuba, blaming him for divulging state secrets. The surprised Dziuba asked a question what secrets were meant: he had no access to any state secrets. One of the two speakers was indignant: ’Do not you think that disclosing the national policy of our party is not divulging a state secret?’ At this meeting the authorities failed to drive I. Dziuba away from the Union of Writers.

On 26 December 1969 Dziuba wrote a letter to the presidium of the Union of Writers, where he dissociated from his foreign publishers and commentators and condemned them.

The presidium took account of this letter and permitted Dziuba to remain in the Union, but warned him that he must take active part in the literary process on the basis of Marxist-Leninist theory and to fight without compromises against bourgeois ideology.

On 26 – 27 March 1970 leaflets were scattered in the Polytechnic and Construction-Engineering institutes in Kyiv. The leaflets expressed the protest against the expulsion of A. Solzhenitsyn from the Union of Writers of the USSR and against persecutions of Dziuba.

On 12 January 1972 Dziuba came to the home of Ivan Svitlychny during the search and arrest of the latter. Later Dziuba was taken to his home that was also searched. Then for several weeks on end Dziuba was called for interrogations. They confiscated the complete works of Lenin with marginal notes and underlined places.

In February new searches and interrogations followed.

On 2 March 1972 a meeting of the presidium of the Union of Writers was held devoted to Dziuba’s personal case. This time he was excluded from the Union ’for abusing the statute of the Union, preparing and distributing materials, which are anti-Soviet and anti-Communist in character, expressing nationalistic outlook, slandering the Soviet system and national policy of the party and Soviet state’. The decision was taken unanimously. In fact the authorities meant the book ’Internatsionalism ili rusifikatsiya?’ written in 1965, for which they had tried to expel Dziuba from the Union in 1969.

On 18 April 1972 Ivan Dziuba was arrested. The official accusation was the work ’Internatsionalism ili rusifikatsiya?’.

On 11 – 16 March 1973 Dziuba was tried at the Kyiv oblast court and condemned by Article 62 of the CC of the UkrSSR to 5 years of concentration camps and 5 years of exile. Dziuba fell gravely ill: he had an open form of TB and cirrhosis of the lungs. In October of 1973 Dziuba turned to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the UkrSSR with the petition for mercy. Taking into account his partial confession of the guilt, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the UkrSSR granted mercy to Dziuba and released him on 6 November 1973.

In 1974 – 1982 Dziuba worked as a corrector and as a literary correspondent of the Kyiv aviation plant newspaper.

From 1982 he focused on the creative work. He is the author of many books on literary studies.

From 1992 to 1994 he worked as a Minister of Culture of Ukraine.

Ivan Dziuba is a laureate of the O. Biletskiy prize (1987) and the State prize of Ukraine named after Taras Shevchenko (1991).

At present he is the academician-secretary of the department of literature, language and art studies in the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He is the editor-in-chief of the magazine ’Suchasnist’ (’Modernity’), the president of the National Association of Ukrainian studies, a co-chairman of the main editorial collegium of the ’Encyclopedia of the modern Ukraine’. I. Dziuba is one of the most respectable and authoritative figures of the Ukrainian culture.


We send our hearty congratulations to revered Ivan Dziuba! We wish him sound health, creative inspiration and successes!

Editorial board of the bulletin ’Prava ludyny’
Kharkov Group for human rights protection

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