THIS DAY - November 5, 1968 - "For our and your freedom!" - The feat of Vasyl Makukh


Citizen of Ukraine Vasyl Makukh, protesting against communist, totalitarism, enslavement of Ukrainian

and aggression against Czechoslovakia, committed an act of self-immolation. World community bows its head to the Ukrainian patriot

According to Western radio stations, 1968

On the night of August 20-21, 1968, the invasion of the USSR and most of its allies from the military-political Warsaw Treaty Organization into Czechoslovakia began. Almost immediately in various parts of the Soviet Union and its allies from the socialist camp, in one form or another, protests began to take place.

One of the most radical actions was the event on November 5, 1968 in Kyiv. On that day, on the crowded Khreshchatyk (near the Bessarabian market), in the entrance of the house 27, a man poured gasoline and set himself on fire. He ran down the street and shouted: "Down with the colonizers! Long live free Ukraine! ”,“ Get out of occupied Czechoslovakia! ”. This man was forty-year-old Vasyl Makukh.

For a mature man who had a family and two children, it was not a one-time exaltation. The Ukrainian patriot went to his deed all his life.

Vasyl  was born in 1927 in the Lviv region into a family of Ukrainian believers who supported the idea of ​​national liberation. Neighbors of the family, with whom Vasyl talked a lot, were brothers Mykola and Petro Duzhiy, active participants in the cultural and educational life of pre-war Galicia and the Ukrainian liberation movement of the 1940s and 1950s.

After the return of Soviet power to the territory of Western Ukraine, Vasyl Makukh joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

In February 1946, during the crossing of the Soviet-Polish border to establish contact with the insurgents of the Transcarpathian region, which was part of Poland, V. Makukh and his comrade, a rebel under the pseudonym "White", encountered border guards. During the shooting, Makukh was wounded in the right leg and taken unconscious to the Velykomostivsky regional department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and later to the infamous Lviv prison "Brigidky".

In the same year, Vasyl was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 5 years in prison. In the Mordovian camps, he met Lydia Zapara, who was serving a sentence for "treason."

Makukh hesitated for a long time about marriage and the birth of children, understanding the responsibility of this step: "Anyway, sooner or later, I will give my life for the freedom of Ukraine, so why start a family ?!". However, after the exile, he came to Lydia's homeland - in Dnepropetrovsk [1] and married her. Soon the couple had two children - a daughter Olga and a son Vladimir.

He was forbidden to return to Western Ukraine, but Vasyl never severed ties with his former comrades-in-arms, and corresponded with his comrades in captivity, ending his letters with the words "Glory to Ukraine!"

In 1968, Makukh, like many others who could think critically, was outraged by the negative assessment of Oles Honchar's novel The Cathedral. The occupation of Czechoslovakia was very irritating.

In the autumn of 1968, Makukh returned from a vacation he spent with his sister in the Lviv region to Kyiv instead of home. The preparation of this step and the preliminary conscious reflection is evidenced by the phrase he said to his wife and children at the farewell, at home: "If something happens to me, know that I have always loved you very much."

He talked to his parents and sent many letters to friends from Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Nikopol. On November 3, he left Karov for Lviv, carrying a three-liter jar of liquid in his bag. He said it was juice given by a neighbor.

According to one version, Vasyl had a meeting in Kyiv and planned to take part in a protest action against the occupation of Czechoslovakia, which was to take place on the eve of the next anniversary of the October coup. However, the action never took place. Instead, there was another, individual manifestation of protest - self-immolation.

The next day, November 6, Vasyl Makukh died in hospital from burns that covered 70% of his body. When he regained consciousness before his death, he rebuked the doctors for recklessly orphaning the children and replied: “They will still be proud of their father. And now we are all orphans. Today Ukraine is an orphan… ».

The funeral took place in the cemetery of the Klochko-6 residential area [2] in Dnipropetrovsk under the strict supervision of the KGB (officers disguised in civilian clothes took photos and recorded all those present).

Makukh's widow was fired, leaving her two small children without means of subsistence. She was subjected to searches, numerous interrogations, during which the KGB tried to find out about the connections of her husband and his friends, and some fictitious material assistance from "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists."

Recognition of Vasyl Makukh's deed and his veneration began only during the times of independent Ukraine.

Vasyl Makukh Street has been located in the city of Dnipro since November 26, 2015 in the Kalinovsky residential area.

On January 26, 2017, a memorial plaque was erected in his honor on Khreshchatyk in Kyiv.

In May 2018, a newly built bridge in the Czech capital, Prague, was named after Vasyl Makukh, and a memorial plaque was unveiled a little later.

Valentyn Rybalka

[1] Now the city of Dnipro.

[2] Today, the Kalinovsky residential area.