Statement on the political persecution of the Ukrainian writer, Yuri Vynnychuk



On January 23, 2012 two policemen approached writer Yuri Vynnychuk at his home in the West Ukrainian city of Lviv and demanded from him a written explanation of a poem he read a few months ago in Kyiv at the “A Night of Erotic Poetry” festival. The policemen said they were authorized to do so by the prosecutor general after he had received a complaint from the Communist MP, Leonid Hrach, who unabashedly qualified Vynnychuk’s poem as “pornography” and a “call for the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s government.”

The writer rejected these accusations as absurd and stated that the interference in literary matters of politicians, prosecutors and other officials was illegal and anti-constitutional.

The Ukrainian PEN-Center supports Yuri Vynnychuk’s position on the illegal and illegitimate actions of Ukraine’s government officials and draws the attention of Ukrainian society and the international community to the gradual reestablishment of political censorship in Ukraine and the growing pressure of the police, prosecutors, and security service on writers, journalists, scholars, and civic activists. Within the past two years, under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, these repressive tendencies have become both sinister and systemic.

The Ukrainian PEN-Center calls on the Ukrainian national authorities to stop political persecution in the country and abstain from infringing on freedom of speech and interfering in literary and artistic activity. We call on Ukrainian writers and artists as well as on our international colleagues to join our protest.

On behalf of the Ukrainian PEN-Center
Andrei Kurkov and Mykola Riabchuk, vice presidents

Police question writer for controversial poem

Critics say poem calls for violent overthrow.

If there is one poem that should have had the disclaimer that any similarity with real people or events is purely coincidental, it’s this one.

The poem “Kill the Pederast” is giving its author, Yuriy Vynnychuk, a lot of trouble after he was questioned by police amid obvious similarities between the words and aspects of President Viktor Yanukovych’s biography.

Vynnychuk, a controversial writer from Lviv, was asked for a written explanation by police on Jan. 23 in response to a complaint by a political scientist who was present at a reading.

The poem, which originally appeared in early autumn, has a number of allusions to a bandit boss who stole hats in the past, has been hit with an egg and is now leading everyone to the abyss:

“A bandit he was and a bandit he is / But now he’s top of his class / It’s millions rather than hats that he steals / Kill the pederast.”

Some of the descriptive elements in the poem are reminiscent of Yanukovych’s biography. He was convicted of crimes twice in his youth, although the record was later erased.

He was hit with an egg during an election campaign in 2004 – an incident that still haunts him in jokes and cartoons because he fell theatrically to the pavement after being struck, as if the victim of a serious assault. And he’s frequently accused of corruption and misleading the nation, charges that he and his supporters deny.

The word pederast caused controversy last year when soccer fans chanted “Thank you, inhabitants of Donbas / For the pederast president.” Yanukovych is from the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Attempts to sell T-shirts with the phrase on were blocked by police.

Vynnychuk’s poem doesn’t mention the president by name, was never published anywhere but the Internet and went virtually unnoticed until Nov. 12, when he recited it at an Erotic Poetry Night in Kyiv.

One of the people in the audience, political scientist Volodymyr Bondarenko, complained to police that Vynnychuk recited a pornographic poem that called for the government to be overthrown. He passed it to Leonid Grach, a Communist Party member of parliament, who forwarded it to the prosecutor’s office, asking for an investigation.......................

..........Editor’s Note: The following is an English-language translation of the poem ‘Kill the Pederast’ by Yuriy Vynnychuk.


 The time has arrived when each one of us
Is facing a serious choice
The power's been grabbed by bandits and cheats
Hoodwinkers and swine herds.
The nation is down and knocked off its feet
The night lords are drinking its blood
While the kingpin of theirs, hit by an egg
Is leading us all to abyss.

A bandit he was and a bandit he is
But now he's top of his class
It's millions rather than hats that he steals
Kill the pederast.
For selling Ukraine to its terrible foes
Betraying the bards like Taras
For liking Tabachnyk and Moscow priests
Kill the pederast.

 Tabachnyks are ruling this vampire ball
Like a star in the night do they rise
We're slaves once again, little Russians at home
Kill the pederast.

Ukraine will remember its hero miner
A simple guy from Donbas
Who'll take a steel hack into his mighty hands
And kill the pederast.

No aim that we have is more holy than this,
There is no other way out
Come to your God and beg to forgive
And then kill the pederast.

When we're all served to Kremlin as food
Which is licking its chops eying us
It will be too late, rise now and kill
Kill the pederast.

Read more:

I hope he gets more promotion from this poem. He must've known who was in the audience, when in November he recited it.


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