Roman Kis Роман Кісь

* 1949  †︎ 2020

  • Here (in Lviv) I was framed up with a second case for my religious beliefs, because I already belonged to the illegal community of "Evangelical Baptists." Its leader was Kriuchkov. And the Evangelical Baptist Church Council even published the magazine in high print. The Herald of Truth was published in high print in the underground. These printing houses were often destroyed by Chekists and there were many arrests. Dozens of Christians were arrested each year. Even when the Perestroika began in 1987, there were still three arrests in Ukraine. Back in 1987, people were imprisoned during the Perestroika. In total, some evangelical Christians have been to prison 3-4 times. If these meetings were considered illegal, for example, held somewhere at home, or in the woods, or in someone's apartment, people could be fined a certain amount, for example, 50 rubles, karbovanets. And if you were fined three times, there were enough grounds for imprisonment for the third time. After the third fine, they were imprisoned and given 3-4 years. Some were in prison 3-4 times. It was the All-Union Church of Evangelical Baptists. Brothers and sisters spent a total of 20,000 years in prisons.

  • I became an ordinary shepherd there in Chukotka, a shepherd boy, so to speak. I lived for a while in the village of Kanchalani, north of the city of Anadyr. I lived there for almost three years. Two and a half years. And what were those years? 1978, 1979 and early 1980. In addition, I headed the so-called agit-pop cultural brigade - the AKB, which brought movies to those nomadic reindeer herders Chukchi. I came for a few days to a dormitory in Kanchalan - a large village where Russians lived, not just Chukchi. And then I asked to stay, I was free to stay for a month or two in the Tundra. I stayed with them there, shepherding. However, I often got lost in the Tundra, because I have a bad visual memory, and then, I always found my way back, etc. And I used these materials in my book in one large chapter of almost a hundred pages - "Language, thought and cultural reality."

  • And suddenly at the end of the 1970 year a Moscow VAK circular appeared, this abbreviation is well known - Moscow Higher Attestation Commission. It controlled and managed the field of certification of scientific personnel and the field of scientific degrees. And under the signature of Professor Kirilov-Ugryumov, who headed the attestation commission, there was a provision that all dissertations, regardless of whether it is in Georgia, Estonia, Latvia or Ukraine, and not only abstracts, these short brochures, but the body of the dissertation, whether it is on humanities, history, language - it should be written only in Russian. And all articles and publications on a subject - to be translated into Russian, if they were written Estonian or Georgian, and certified by a notary - it is obvious that this act was completely discriminatory. I internally could not completely agree with this. I went to the director and said that I would work for you for another six months and then write a letter of resignation, I said I was going to Chukotka, I would study the Chukchi language there, the life of Chukchis for me to remain an ethnographer. So I refused to translate my dissertation into Russian, because it is an act of humiliation, backwardness, not only of Ukraine, but also of Georgia and Lithuania. It as the persecution, humiliation and discrimination of all the nations that lived there as part of that empire. I flatly refused.

  • (Literary translation) "Who told you? Who told you that Kolyma is Asia? We carry gold here by Czech Tatras and Ukrainian Kraz. Here omnipotent viruses of the global convergence has already started to spread, West German spotted orange magirus vehicles. And in Susuman, students from Lviv smeared Havana rum. Who told you? Who told you that Kolyma is Asia? Here the skull was found of the proto-Asian race. The only specimen was rested in the museum. Along the entire Kolyma route The European bones lie. 1100 kilometers were paved. A piece of Europe was amputated here. The road is serpentine Writhe in spasms, spasms, spasms So, who told you? Who told you that Kolyma is Asia?"

  • When I was about 14-year-old, it was the 1963, I started writing. From that time, I wrote poems and hid them deep and far, because even then some of them were anti-Soviet. I hid them in an old Austrian couch - that was my naive decision because I knew I could be oppressed for it. During the temporary warming of Khrushchev's "thaw", my grandfather, I remember it was the last year of Khrushchev's reign - the 1963rd, so I remember, my grandparents belonged to those "dips" - "displaced persons". In the last year of the war, they left for Germany, entered the American zone of occupation, and then came to America. They lived in New York - Long Island. My grandfather visited us with my grandmother as tourists during the thaw, the so-called "Khrushchev's thaw", when Ukrainians were allowed to come here - they were my father's parents. And when I read him some of my things, he said that Khrushchev would not imprison me for that - he said it half-jokingly.

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    Lviv, Ukraine, 30.11.2020

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„There were holes in the Iron Curtain“: writer and philosopher Roman Kis, history of creativity and imprisonment

Roman Kis's book of poems "Inscriptions on the ruins" (Napysy na rumovyshchakh), published in 2003
Roman Kis's book of poems "Inscriptions on the ruins" (Napysy na rumovyshchakh), published in 2003
zdroj: photo by Anna Yutchenko

Roman Kis was born on May 9, 1949, in Lviv in the family of a history professor and a geography teacher. In 1956, he went to the first grade of the Lviv school No.4 In 1966, he entered the Faculty of Philology of Lviv University. During his university studies, he attended the student literary circle „Kuznya Franka“ and participated in the creation of a self-published almanac „Skrynia“. In 1972, Mr. Roman began working at the Museum of Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of the UkSSR. Due to the impossibility of defending his dissertation in Ukrainian, Roman Kis resigned from the museum and went to Chukotka for three years, where he grazed deer with local peoples. After returning to Lviv for his anti-Soviet stance, in the 1980s he was framed up with two case and as a result was imprisoned. For the last decades, Roman Kis had lived in Lviv and worked as a senior researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology of the Institute of Ethnology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Roman Kis died on December 13, 2020.