The Russian occupation force took removed the commemorative plaque for Vasyl Stus (1938–1985) at Donetsk University. Stus was a Ukrainian poet and publicist, one of the most active members of Ukrainian dissident movement. For his political convictions, his works were banned by the Soviet regime and he died in Gorbachev-era GULAG. (Image: Larysa Lysiak)
Exposed bricks, that’s all that remains in place of the commemorative plaque to one of the bravest people that ever lived in Donetsk. The Russian occupation force cowardly took it down. The plaque attached to the facade of Donetsk University was honoring one of its graduates, the major Ukrainian poet and Soviet dissident Vasyl Stus.
Stus never took an easy path. His love for Ukraine, his literary talent and inextinguishable sense of justice made it impossible for him to be silent about the suppression of human rights and everything Ukrainian under the Communist rule. Through his poetry and activity in the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, he fought the totalitarian state, but the fight was unequal. He died at the age of 47, while serving the fifth year of a 10-year sentence on charges of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” in a GULAG mine six months after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR.
Weep, sky, weep and weep! Wash the unabated sea
Of thin-voiced waters and dampen the heart.
It seems it was just now, just yesterday
That a deathly shiver buried you alive.
Weep, sky, weep and weep! The past cannot be returned.
Today has been reduced to naught, the future will not come.
Something weighs on the mind that can never
Be torn from the heart. This prison is a prison for prisons!
Weep, sky, weep and weep! Still over your horizons
And let the stars fall from darkened skies!
Is there in this world a trumpet that will sound
A final blast to keep me from my resurrection?
Flow, water, flaw and sweep me away from my weariness,
For eternities of bondage have crushed me.
High upland thunder, girdle the earth!
Pitch-winged cloud, bless me!
Lightning, send a message!
Hallowed be the world. The night is its companion.
So, water. Flow forth! And you, misfortune, rage!
– Vasyl Stus
(Translated by Marco Carynnyk, The Ukrainian Weekly, September 15, 1985, p. 10., taken from article by Dr. Wolodymyr Zyla published online)
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