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«I want to be a Ukrainian»

21.06.2006
V. Berezin

This is the working title of a new documentary about Oleksa Tykhy, one of those who upheld the Ukrainian spirit of the Donbas (the Donets Basin), a famous writer and human rights activist. He was born on 27 January 1932 in the hamlet of Yizhivka, now the Konstantinovka district.

The group of film producers from the Druzhkivka “Sinelfilm-studio” took on a very difficult, but fruitful task. They first traced Tykhy’s years as a child and young lad, and recounted how the lad from a village in the Donbas came to be one of Ukraine’s great sons.

Residents of Konstantinovka and the district will find out some interesting things when the film is released to the public. For instance, that the pond in Yizhivka was the idea of young Oleksa, and the willows, which still grow around this pond, were planted by the future prisoner and dissident himself.

The hut where Tykhy was born is still standing, looked after by Oleksa’s younger sister  who lives in Kramatorsk. .

Interviews with Tykhy’s sister, his wife and son create a vivid impression of the man himself.

However, the moment that hits hardest is the confession of the former police officer from Konstantinovka, who took part in Oleksa Tykhy’s arrest in that same hut in Yizhivka on 1 July 1977. A gun was planted in Tykhiy’s room, and a case fabricated against him. After that, at a trial held in a school in Oleksievo-Druzhkivka, he was effectively sentenced to his death..

Not even the fact that Oleksa Tykhiy was one of the ten founders of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group could stop the authorities suggesting that the anti-Soviet activist emigrate from the Soviet Union. His answer was succinct: “My place is here”, and he continued his human rights activities.

The well-known politician Levko Lukyanenko, who talks in the film about the last years of Tykhy’s life in the labour camp, asks the viewers to reread Oleksa’s works to understand that there is no anti-Soviet agitation there. Tykhy wrote only about the Ukrainian language and culture.

The authorities nonetheless virtually murdered the political prisoner. How else could one interpret the words of the prison doctor after an operation which made a normal illness of the stomach tract incurable: “Your life will be short and full of pain”,

The man was “inconvenient” to the authorities who labelled him a particularly dangerous repeat offender and killed him.

However, Ukraine did not forget her son. The film ends with the moving shots of the reburial on 19 November 1989 of Oleksa Tykhy, Vasyl Stus and Yuri Lytvyn in Baikove Cemetery in Kyiv.  Then it seemed that the entire country carried on its shoulders these three coffins along Khreshchatik, past Sofia and Vladimir cathedrals, to their rest.

The authors of the documentary believe that Oleksa Tykhy’s legacy is very important today when the question of Ukrainian self-identity has become an acute issue, when it is time to defend our native language, culture and country.

More about Oleksa Tykhy can be found at:http://khpg.org/1057659402

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