UCEF CDO Talks to Chicago Ukrainian School

Monday, April 16, 2018
On Saturday, April 14th, UCEF’s Chief Development Officer Alexander Kuzma presented three interactive lectures on the life and legacy of award-winning poet and civil rights martyr Vasyl Stus for students at Chicago’s St. Nicholas Ukrainian Saturday School.   Mr. Kuzma gave a PowerPoint presentation to the 8th, 9th and 10th classes of the Ukrainian Studies School named in Stus’s memory.
Beginning in the 1960s, Vasyl Stus was a prominent political dissident and a member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group that defied the Soviet State and condemned the Soviet government’s flagrant violations of human rights.  He died at the notorious Perm 36 prison camp in the Soviet Gulag in 1985, just before the start of the “perestroika” campaign, so he never lived to witness the widespread protests in Eastern Europe that eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Stus’s powerful poems, written while he was in prison were nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and in 1993, Stus was posthumously awarded the Taras Shevchenko State Prize for Literature.  In 2008, faculty and students at Donetsk State University considered renaming their school in honor of Stus as one of its most illustrious alumni, but after the Russian invasion in 2014, the university removed all mention of Stus.  However, many faculty and students of Donetsk University were forced to flee to Vinnytsia in western Ukraine, where their university was re-established in exile and renamed in honor of Stus in 2016.
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