Acclaimed Ukrainian author and human rights champion Myroslav Marynovych on October 26 completed a six-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 Mr. Marynovych’s prison memoir, “The Universe Behind Barbed Wire” published by University of Rochester Press.
As the vice-rector for university mission at the 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 Krakow, Poland, in 2013.
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 1980s. 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 who had such an important influence on his life.
Mr. Marynovych was invited to deliver the prestigious Nanovic Institute Lecture at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., on September 16. 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 seven years as a political prisoner at the notorious Perm 36 prison camp in Siberia. While there, 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,” Mr. Marynovych told his audience during one stop on his book tour. “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, N.C., on October 24, Mr. Marynovych cited a passage from the Gospel of Matthew (25).
“I was in prison and you visited me,” Mr. Marynovych said.
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,” Mr. Marynovych said.
In addition to his academic presentations, Mr. Marynovych also met with Ukrainian Catholic communities in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Rochester, New York City, Stamford, Conn., 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.
Mr. Marynovych also met privately with Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova and delivered a speech at the Embassy of Ukraine on October 15. As part of the conference called “Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nationhood,” organized by Walter Zaryckyj, he also delivered a lecture at Washington’s University Club on the dogma of the “Russian World” (Russky Mir) by which Vladimir Putin strives to deceive the world community about the nature of his war of aggression against Ukraine.
Copies of Mr. Marynovych’s book sold out at several of the events where he spoke. However, additional copies may be ordered from the Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation, 2247 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60622. Due to high demand, delivery may take from two to four weeks. For further details, please contact Matthew Matuszak at 773-235-8462.