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Pole to Pole

Day 33: Dno to Kiev

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleI ask Vadim if he thinks there will ever he an independent Ukraine.

'It's not going to be very fast. We are still conservative . . . we've seen what's happening in the Baltics, we've seen what's happening in Lithuania - we wouldn't want this . . . but the process of secession is inevitable . . . I hear people on the streets of Kiev speaking Ukrainian . . . the culture which many people thought is gone for ever. If one feels Ukrainian, if one feels it's one's roots, this is a very exciting period to live through.' It's moving to hear feelings like this expressed with such eloquence, the more so when I hear Vadim's personal experience at the hands of Soviet institutions. His father, a writer and film director, was arrested by the KGB in 1977, after works of his, critical of the regime, were published in the West. A healthy forty-nine-year-old, he was sent to a KGB prison in Kiev, from which he emerged six months later, paralysed and confused. He was taken to hospital but died six months afterwards. Two months later, his father's prison diaries appeared in the West. The KGB were furious and yet could find no way in which these writings had leaked out of his high-security confinement. For twelve years Vadim was subject to harassment, until the extraordinary effects of glasnost enabled him to publish both his father's original work and the diaries in the Ukraine. But all is not over for him. The authorities still have his father's papers, and as Vadim warns again,

'The KGB is still very strong, the military are very strong . . . we have to be very cautious . . .'.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 33
  • Country/sea: USSR
  • Place: Dnieper River
  • Book page no: 73

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