in Buzina.org, November 11, 2015
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter, November 19, 2015
for a sample column from Oles Busina, click here.
Valentina Pavlovna and I met at the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow. This was my most difficult interview. I held back tears throughout the time with Oles’ mother — holding back no more: I am working on this text through tears. Oles was thoroughly permeated with his mother’s candor, pain, compassion, understanding, and wisdom of life, the mother who survived her son …
AB – Valentina Pavlovna, today we are with you in the house of the book, where you find a book about your son, “Oles Buzina: The Truth, Shot.” In Moscow, they venerate the memory of Oles, as you see, there’s even a book written about him already. And in Kiev, in your opinion, do they honor the memory of your son?
V.B. – You know, I can tell by how many people go to Oles’ grave. Every day I go to the grave, except for one or two days when I’m out of town, and I am never alone there. Always people come there, the grave is constantly in flower, there are lots of flowers on Oles’ grave. Lately I was very concerned that the monument would soon go untended as winter comes on. A young couple came, we got to talking, they embraced me, and I told them that I worry that the rains will come and make the ground impassable, and in winter that snow would drift over the grave. I was very worried.
They looked at each other and said: “We will call you in a month, please give your contact information, we come here to the grave, but we do not always run into you.” I did, and a month later they called me and said: “We want to show you the sort of enclosure we would like to make. If you do not mind, we’ll build it out of wood, oak and ash. ” I said I do not mind, Oles was very fond of wood. Next month, they showed me the project. They did it themselves, they brought the material themselves, assembled it, they did the whole thing. I do not even know their surnames. I only know their first names. Now they are like my family, I call them up, I communicate with them. They always say to me: “Call us and talk to us, we revere Oles, we’ve got all his books, we constantly monitor his work and we are very grateful that you gave birth to Oles, and to Oles, for being Oles.” This is one of those moments.
If you are in Kyiv and come to the grave, there are always flowers. I recognize a second mother – his mother-in-law, she also goes to his grave, but most are simply those who honor his memory.
AB – Does this mean that our Kiev is not yet dead? Has not succumbed to all this devilry, which now is prevalent in the regime?
VB – You know, in one of Oles’ books there are these words: “If you say that I am dead, do not believe it – I am alive, read my books, I’m there.”
Of course, you can not even think that everyone relates the same way to his work, of course not. I know that, and there are people who say it to me straight. I believe that it is right. To me this man seems great, but to someone else, no. There are different opinions on every subject. But the fact that Oles has many admirers — as a mother I say it to you openly and confidently. Plus, it is all the different generations — that’s interesting. There are a lot of elders aged and with canes …. When these people come to the grave, it was very painful for me, but yet somehow, also — a joy. They remind me of my mother, Oles’ grandmother, who was focused on his education. She loved him very much and he loved her devotedly. And when these little old people come, I feel the presence of my mother. The middle generation come, and the young, with their children …
AB – I remember at Oles’ funeral. There was a huge number of caring people who came: whether they were ones who knew him or who didn’t know him. Thank God that there are such people in Kiev, and I am very pleased. Tell me, do journalists turn to you, when preparing materials about Oles?
VB – You know, I have read almost no material lately about Oles. The newspaper Today, where he worked for ten years, devoted half of a very short article to him. I have not seen or read anything about him in more than two months.
AB – Do you condemn Oles’ colleagues from the newspaper “Today”?
VB – No, I don’t. It’s for God to be their judge. But I don’t read the newspaper, I do not pick one up, It’s painful — As much as he did for the newspaper …
AB – There were great texts on Saturdays …
VB – On Saturdays, then on Fridays. A column on Monday and Thursday? People would wait for them … In the area where I live, I know that on Saturday, and then on Friday I had to run down bright and early because by afternoon it was too late to find a copy. But judge them, no. God will judge them. They do not understand.
AB – Tell me, are people from your son’s circle in touch with you?
VB – Indeed yes, they are. Here you are, just for instance, I found out that even from here, from Moscow, people came to the funeral. I am immensely grateful to you. They especially come from Donetsk, they walked up, for a long time was a wreath from Donetsk. By the way, right now that I am in Moscow, a stranger came up to me at my hotel. He recognized me, because he’d seen me before on television. He came up and said: “I am very sorry.” He hugged me, it was heartwarming. From all parts of Ukraine people come, people looking for his grave. Journalists, here we are talking about Tanya Chugayenko Lesa. The two of them came up to the door and the scene of the tragedy, and then proceeded to his grave. Jura and Luba Lukashin, and many others come.
AB – Tell me, do Oles’ opponents to get in touch, Have they threatened you or anything?
VB – No.
AB – Nobody has written to you, nobody has said anything?
VB – No. And we mustn’t say that there was.
AB – How is the investigation of the murder progressing?
VB – Two young men, Medvedko and Polishchuk, very young guys, one not yet 25, the other, probably 25. That’s two of the young men that have been arrested. They are in custody, the investigation is ongoing.
AB – Do you trust the investigation?
VB – They are suspects. While they are suspects, I have no anger. And besides, neither for the life of an evil man. But they are suspected, so I can not be angry right now. That’s when it is proved that they, their words, I will not give up then. I said at the outset that the curse until the twentieth generation. If God can let me forgive, fine, but at the same time, I ask the wrath of God upon them. At my age, with my sorrows, I have only to say whatever i have to say, and that with tears. I have been on several courtrooms and I can not watch without tears, it is very painful, very sad.
AB – Do they look you in the eye?
VB – They look. I ask. I asked at the very outset that they look me in the eye. They refuse.
AB – That is, they do not look you in the eye?
VB – No, they look me in the eye, but they deny everything. They said: “We did not kill him.”
AB – And how do you feel about them – are they the ones, or are they not?
VB – I believe in these situations it’s sinful, we can not say that… I did not see them do it, and so I just can’t, it’s a sin. But if it is proven … Now they want to get out on bail. But that’s their business, their right. If it is legal, let them. Attorneys for them came to court to bail them outl. At the same time, the court did not release them. Well, for some reason they were detained, yet they didn’t detain anyone else. Let the court decide.
AB – Tell me, do you dream about your son?
VB – Yes, twice. And it is not very clear. Where he is buried, there is an open space like a lawn. I dreamed that he was standing there, next to the grave, and there was a boy with him about seven.
AB – Oles’ best friend, Eugene Morin, worked in my editorial office. He died a month and a half after the murder of Oles. I met with them at the Mariinsky park in Kiev. I was twilight. The picture is imprinted in my memory. Two friends on a stroll through the park. It seems as if Gene just could not stand the death of a friend … What is your source of strength?
VB – Perhaps, after all, God gives one strength. I believe that. Another thing is that after the tragedy I had some kind of “syndrome of anger.” I could not quite understand how it is possible to lay hands on a healthy, intelligent, talented man who loves life, loves people, who does not lie, and speaks frankly? Why did not God took? I prayed for him constantly, constantly I prayed … I initially asked myself: “What is life for me, what is life for me without my son?” He was my only joy, and my pride. He never made problems for us. But someone has robbed me of my happiness and my hope. When it seemed to me that there was no one there for me, strangers filled in: near me were strangers, I do not even know the last name for some of them. They call me, they are always there for me. It is still, I believe, because God has granted that I not feel alone. But plainly one has to carry on.
A. B. A lot of mothers have lost sons in this war.
V.B And I feel very sorry for them. Many lie buried alongside Oles. My heart goes out to the mothers, I go up to them…
A.B. Are the mothers on to the senselessness of this war? What it’s all for?
V.B. There are various folks, with various vantage points.
A.B. And you? I mean, as a mother who has lost a son in this war?
V.B. — One of the mothers was constantly coming up to me and saying unpleasant things non-stop. Her son was killed, and I feel for her. Everyone has to manage in their own way, and carry on somehow. I never scolded, I never laid blame or censure on anybody.
I know there are people to blame for my son’s murder, and not just the two who shot him at the door. There is obviously someone hiding behind them. By the way, I voted for one of them, one of the two, for Medvedko, when he was running for city council. And can you imagine my feelings, when I see him now? But he wasn’t a suspect yet.
A.B. — If you had certain knowledge that it was them, what would you say to them?
V.B. — I would say that they are inhuman, and such as should not be living on this planet.
People who are deprived of life, and for no reason …. Seeing what I saw as they used bullets to deal with my son – God grant that nobody has to see that in their life! I live with it, and even now there’s the horror before my eyes: the pool of blood at which I stood, when I got there, upon his death. It’s all in front of me, I took blood in my mouth; I tasted — I just lost it. I couldn’t act like that, but apparently, I could not cope, just could not cope. In my life I’m an altogether different person, I’m a discreet, well-mannered, I’m the kind of person who, if he was crying, would not cry in public. But that I cannot hold back my tears. Every time I ask God: “Help.” Because my tears do not apply for the people I associate with. I apologize to the people, then I’m alone and I’m sorry, “Lord, let these people will forgive me my pain and my grief.” These people are not to blame.
AB – I think that such tears are very positive in effect on each person. For example, on me. I am grateful to you that you spent the afternoon with me, because after this comes the moral. Life’s priorities change. Whatever you endure, this is a lesson for many, many people whether they live there or here.
VB – I did not think I would go to the church of the Novodevichy Convent, that is to say, the power of God led me there. God’s power still instructs me that it is necessary to live past this tragedy. Although, at first, to be honest, it just seemed to me that I was dead and should just go. I just scouted out the passageway so there’d be no trouble for those traveling. And all else was of no use for me.
AB – I understand you.
Alena Bereza, editor in chief of information-analytical publication “Ukraina.ru”yet.