Semyon Gluzman in 1989. Courtesy photo
At the age of twenty-five I became a prisoner in a KGB prison. A Soviet judge found me then, in 1972, to be a dangerous criminal of the State, and sent me for seven years to a camp with strict regime and three years of exile in Siberia. But in fact I was guilty of only one thing – I wanted to be able to say freely what I wanted. I wanted to be free to say and read what is accepted in any civilized country, but was considered “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda’ in the Soviet Union.
In Soviet camps there were hundreds of similar prisoners, who all wanted to be free to say, read and write whatever they saw fit. Unfortunately many of these wonderful people are no longer with us. I am also not so young anymore; soon I will turn seventy. In a new country, independent Ukraine, I got what I dreamed of. Here freedom of speech is a reality. Slowly but surely my country acquires, sometimes with torturous difficulty, the qualities of a European country.
At this moment a war rages in my country. At any cost the Russian dictator Putin wants to prevent us, Ukrainians, to live as Europeans. As a former KGB officer he considers freedom of speech to be a dangerous infectious disease. He is afraid that the Russian people will follow suit and will want to live in a country according to European norms and values; that is, without him. At this moment, fear reigns in Russia and dissidents are persecuted as before.
My country is currently at war with Vladimir Putin. Only with him and his totalitarian environment. We are not at war with the Russian intelligentsia, the Russian people and Russian culture. Where possible we defend the miracle of free speech to which we became accustomed, the ability to think freely and critically. We, citizens of Ukraine, speak two languages fluently, Ukrainian and Russian. We go to churches of different dominations, or we don’t go to church at all. We are free! And we want to acquire without any exception those European values that you, Dutchmen, have been given at birth.
We dream to be full-fledged Europeans. Help us to do so. Vote during the upcoming referendum “yes”.
Dr. Semyon Gluzman
Psychiatrist, former political prisoner (1972-1982)
Kyiv, February 2016
Tags: Dutch, Op-ed, Political prisoners, Referendum