UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


POSTPONED: Conversation with Myroslav Marynovych: The Universe Behind Barbed Wire

21 November 2022, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Cover of the book The Universe Behind Barbed Wire: Memoirs of a Ukrainian Soviet Dissident

Please join us for this event with Myroslav Marynovych, who will talk about his recent book: The Universe Behind Barbed Wire: Memoirs of a Ukrainian Soviet Dissident (2021). Moderated by Professor Andrew Wilson (UCL SSEES)

This event is free.

Event Information

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Masaryk Room
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton street

Due to unforseen circumstances, this event will be postoned. New date will be confirmed soon.

The Universe Behind Barbed Wire: Memoirs of a Ukrainian Soviet Dissident, Boydell & Brewer, 2021 is an English translation of a memoir by Myroslav Marynovich, a Ukrainian dissident who was imprisoned-and later exiled-during the Brezhnev years because of his membership in the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Defense Group (UHG), which sought to make public the human rights conditions that existed in Soviet-controlled Ukraine. Born in Halychyna (a European-oriented western region of Ukraine, also known as Galicia) just after World War II, and educated in Soviet schools, the author describes in his memoir the influence of his Galician family in developing his position of resistance to totalitarian regimes. The narrative depicts life in Soviet-occupied Kyiv during the epoch of the Helsinki movement, describing the activities of the UHG and its members, their arrests, and the Soviet abuse of justice. The author shares details of the political prisoners' life in concentration camps and clarifies the circumstances of his exile to Kazakhstan. A significant amount of the memoir is dedicated to describing the author's personal spiritual growth.

About the speaker:

Myroslav Marynovych is a Ukrainian human rights activist, journalist, religious scholar, founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, organizer of the amnesty movement in USSR and in Ukraine, vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, honorary president of Ukrainian Centre of PEN International.

Marynovych was born on the 4th of January in 1949 in the village of Komarovychi of the Starosambirsky district of Drohobych (now the Lviv region). Myroslav was brought up in a religious family. His grandfather was a priest. Myroslav studied at a secondary school in Drohobych, which he finished with honors. In 1972, he graduated from Lviv Polytechnic and worked as an English language translator at the Ivano-Frankivsk "Pozytron" Plant. Around this time he got acquainted with Lviv and Kyiv dissidents. In 1973-1974, he served in the army in Vologda.

Following demobilization, Marynovych moved to Kyiv in 1974. On the 9th November 1976, Marynovych with his friend M. Matusevych became a founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. Since then, Marynovych was under the ‘cap’ of the KGB. He was numerously detained by police in Kyiv and Serpukhov.

In March of 1977, Marynovych and M. Matusevych at the memorial evening of Taras Shevchenko at the Philharmonic in Kyiv, having overcome the organizers' resistance, unexpectedly went on stage and called on to sing the "Testament". On the 23rd of April 1977, Marynovych was arrested. It was a joint case with M. Matusevych. They were accused of "conducting anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda" under Article 62 pt. 1 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR and Article 70 pt. 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian SFSR. The investigation lasted for 11 months. On 22-27th of March in 1978, the Kyiv Regional Court in Vasylkiv sentenced Marynovych to a maximum term of imprisonment of 7 years of strict regime camps and 5 years of exile.

Marynovych was sent to the Perm VS-389/36 camp. He participated in all campaigns defending human rights, held a hunger strike (including a 20-day long one) and transferred the chronicle of the Сamp №36 to the outside. In the period of the whole term, he spent about 150 days in the penal isolator and about one and a half years in the cell-type room. In 1978, Amnesty International started defending Marynovych as a prisoner of conscience. Beginning from April 1984, Marynovych served in exile in the village of Saralzhyn, Uilsky district, Aktobe region in Kazakhstan. He worked as a carpenter. He married Liuba Heina, who moved with him to exile.

In February of 1987, he refused to file a petition for pardon and returned to Ukraine the same year in March.