war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

30 years ago under enigmatic circumstances an outstanding Ukrainian artist Alla A. Gorskaya was killed. We want to remind the reader the sketch of life and death of this great daughter of the Ukrainian people.

Alla Gorskaya was born in Yalta to a family belonging to Soviet nomenclature. She, together with her mother survived the two blockade winters in Leningrad in 1941-43. She graduated from Kyiv Art institute specializing in painting. She painted portraits, worked in easel painting, cut linoleum, made ceramics. Her monumental works in Donbass were done jointly with Zaretskiy and others (butt-end walls of buildings, schools, a wall in a jeweler’s shop. In the studio owned by Gorskaya and Zaretskiy friends frequently gathered. Reports were made, discussions on various topics were carried out.

Gorskaya was one of organizers of the Creative Youth Club ’Sovremennik’ (’Contemporary’), 1959 – 1964. Jointly with V. Simonenko and L. Taniuk she discovered the place of interment of the executed by the NKVD in Lukyanovskoye and Vasylkovskoye cemeteries in Bykovnia (1962 – 1963), about which they announced in Kyiv city council (Memorandum No. 2). After this V. Simonenko was brutally beaten and soon died from a virulent malady of kidneys in 1963.

In 1964 Gorskaya, jointly with O. Zalivakha, L. Semykina, G. Sevruk and G. Zubchenko, made a stained-glass window ’Shevchenko. Mother’ in Kyiv University. The glass shows gloomy Shevchenko who embraces the seduced woman — Ukraine — with one arm, and in another raised hand holds a book. At the bottom of the composition there are his words: ’I’ll glorify these silent slaves, and to protect them from a rogue I put the word as a watchdog’. The stained-glass window was disassembled by the university administration. The commission created after this conflict regarded the stained-glass window as ideologically harmful: ’… Shevchenko is shown behind a grate (it was a frame to fasten the glass. — Editor’s note). The approach is quite formalistic and is not compatible with Shevchenko’s image. The authors have to show that Shevchenko’s dream came true…’ and so on, and so forth. Gorskaya and L. Semykina were excluded from the Union of Artists of Ukraine. In a year they were reinstated.

In 1963 many friends and acquaintances of Gorskaya were arrested. This year became for her the beginning of active participation in the resistance. On 16 December 1965 Alla Gorskaya directed the application to the prosecutor of the Ukrainian Republic concerning the arrests. The application was published in samizdat. Gorskaya directed her application after the trial of Ya. Gavrich; besides, she directed two complaints to the prosecutor of the Ukrainian Republic in December 1965 and March 1966.

Gorskaya was summoned to the KGB for interrogations as a witness and for the confrontations, where she heard ’usual KGB talks’ with warnings and threats. She assisted to political convicts’ families morally and materially, she corresponded with them and with O. Zalivakha. In April 1966 she signed the petition in his support. Human rights protection activists after their release from prisons and colonies turned for help to Gorskaya.

Gorskaya was also present at the trial of V. Chornovil on 15 September 1967 in Lviv, where she with the group of other Kyivans protested against illegal procedures of the court. On April 1968 she signed ’The Letter of protest of 139’ directed to the leaders of the Communist party and the Soviet state with the demand to stop the practice of illegal processes. This text was included into the samizdat collection ’Protsess Chetyriokh’ (The process of the four) about the case of Ginzburg — Galanskov. Administrative repressions began against those who signed the protest, the KGB pressed on them. Rumors circulated in Kyiv and throughout Ukraine that an underground terrorist Bandera organization existed in Ukraine under the control of Western security services. Gorskaya was called one of the chieftains of this organization. On 15 June 1968 she and seven more persons were excluded from the Union of Artists of Ukraine.

She was tailed, sometimes demonstratively, she was threatened by strangers. In 1970 she was summoned to an interrogation in Ivano-Frankivsk about the case of the arrested V. Moroz, but she refused to give any testimony. Several days before her death she wrote a protest letter to the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian Republic on the illegal and cruel verdict pronounced to him.

On 28 November 1970 Alla Gorskaya was killed in the town Vasylkov of the Kyiv oblast. Her funeral was appointed on 4 December. This day her friends organized an exhibition of her pictures in her studio, some people came from other towns. Suddenly the funeral was postponed to the 7 December allegedly in the interests of the crime investigation. The coffin was prohibited to be carried to her house and to her studio. Nonetheless, about 150 – 200 persons gathered in the cemetery. E. Sverstiuk, V. Stus, I. Gel and others delivered their speeches. The crime investigation conducted by the prosecutor’s office of the Kyiv oblast came to the conclusion that Gorskaya was killed by her father-in-law due to personal motives, after which he committed suicide. Awful rumors were distributed in Ukraine about these two deaths, foreign radio stations suggested their own versions. The authorities tried to hush-hush any talks about Gorskaya’s death.

After the disintegration of the USSR the prosecutor’s office and security service of Ukraine never made public any information about Gorskaya’s death, in spite of the public demands, although the criminal case was reopened. The analysis of the case showed that the investigation was incomplete, full of contradictions and was carried with violation of the proper procedures, i.e. it was fabricated. General traits with murder of other political figures in the USSR are easily observed.

Alla Gorskaya is buried in Minskoye (Berkovetskoye) cemetery in Kyiv
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