Previously published in HROMADA’s November 2021 issue:
On October 26th, acclaimed Ukrainian author and human rights champion Myroslav Marynovych completed his 6-week U.S. book tour with a presentation at the Tiburon Yacht Club near San Francisco. The event, hosted by Svitla Systems, Hromada on-line magazine and the San Francisco Friends of UCU Committee attracted a diverse audience eager to obtain signed copies of the English translation of Marynovych’s prison memoir “The Universe Behind Barbed Wire” published by University of Rochester Press. As the Vice-Rector for University Mission at Ukrainian Catholic University, Mr. Marynovych has won recognition as a leader in the movement for interfaith dialogue and ethnic reconciliation and as a voice of conscience for Ukraine’s democratic forces. In 2014 he and Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He was also honored with the Sergio Vieira de Mello Humanitarian Award in Cracow, Poland in 2013.
Professor Myroslav Marynovych presents a signed copy of his memoir “The Universe Behind Barbed Wire” to Carl Gershman, the long-time President of the National Endowment of Democracy and a longtime supporter of Ukrainian human rights activists.
During his many book presentations, Mr. Marynovych told his audiences that he was hesitant to write this memoir until recently as he wanted to focus on Ukraine’s future, rather than looking back at the dissident movement of the 1970s and 80s. However, as more and more of his fellow dissidents began to pass away, he decided to pay homage and give voice to some of the heroic colleagues that had had such an important influence on his life.
On his book tour, Professor Marynovych was invited to deliver the prestigious Nanovic Institute Lecture at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana on September 16th. Among his other academic lectures, he also delivered presentations at Indiana University, the University of Rochester, Syracuse University and the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. At each stop, Mr. Marynovych signed copies of his book and shared many of the poignant and intimate details from his 7 years as a political prisoner at the notorious Perm 36 prison camp in Siberia where he developed strong friendships and drew inspiration from many Ukrainian human rights heroes such as Mykola Rudenko, Zinoviy Krasiivsky, Dr. Simeon Gluzman and Evhen Sverstiuk, as well as prisoners of conscience from Armenia, Georgia, Russia and the Baltic States. “These were my teachers from whom I learned so much,” he told his listeners. “Although there were many hardships in the camps, and although the camp administration was governed by a truly evil system, it was a privilege to share this time with so many of the most courageous people fighting for the truth, for Ukrainian national identity and human rights.”
During his speech at St. Basil the Great Ukrainian Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 24th, Marynovych cited the passage from the Gospel of Matthew (25): “I was in prison and you visited me.” He told his audience that he truly felt humbled by the presence of God, even during some of the bleakest times of his imprisonment. “God was the first to visit us when we were punished by our camp authorities.”
Speaking at the Tiburon Yacht Club, the last stop of his successful U.S. book tour near San Francisco, CA, on October 26
In addition to his academic presentations, Professor Marynovych also met with Ukrainian Catholic communities in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Rochester, New York City, Stamford, CT, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. In Washington, he met with Congressional staffers from the Helsinki Commission, and the Committee on Foreign Relations, as well as Ukraine experts at the U.S. State Department, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, the Ethics and Policy Center and the National Endowment for Democracy. He also met privately with Ambassador Oksana Markarova and delivered a speech at the Embassy of Ukraine on October 15th. As part of the conference called “Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nationhood”, hosted by Professor Walter Zarycky, he also delivered a lecture at Washington’s University Club on the Russian dogma of “Russky Mir” by which Vladimir Putin is seeking to deceive the world community about the nature of his war of aggression against Ukraine.
Professor Marynovych meets with Ukraine experts and guests following his October 18th lecture at the Catholic University of America. From left to right: Professor Marynovych, Holodomor Monument designer Larysa Kurylas, Ambassador John Herbst of the Atlantic Council, Jonathan Katz from the German Marshall Fund, Eugene Fishel of the US State Department and Professor Michael Kimmage, Professor of History at Catholic University of America