Галина Чумак Chumak Halyna

* 1948

  • It was horrible - just horrible. Everything happened so fast. They brought buses from Rostov region or from Rostov itself. They parked them - we have a central street (the two central ones, actually) – Artema St., then Universytetska St., then Shchorsa St., and then Rosa Luxemburg St. That's where they parked those buses on Shchorsa St. and Rosa Luxemburg St. And this practice dates back to the 1960s, when there were demonstrations on November 7 and May 1, so we were brought from the districts, buses were left there, they drove us here to the central street, we walked, columns of children walked, and then we went to their buses, on Shchorsa St. and on Rosa Luxemburg St. This is such an ancient practice, they have always been left there. These buses were parked there, people were brought to the Regional State Administration. Well, you understand, “it's easy to understand by the way they talk... We don't talk like that in Donetsk.” They immediately set up megaphones there... Every day, all day long, “Arise, Great Country”, it was just some kind of horror. With batons, with armatures, just terrible. The security changed very quickly, these were sold, these left - they, let's say, changed five times in a week, all the bosses. The head of the Regional State Administration went somewhere, the mayor was still there. Well, something incomprehensible was going on there. No one knows anything, the head of the department – he resigned, the other one is an acting head... Ahhh, February 23. It was the day of defenders of the Motherland, wasn't it? It was Sunday, I remembered. I went to Greek dances classes on Sundays. And after the dances, we danced from 10 to 12, held rehearsals, I ran to the museum, because it was very uneasy there. I come to the museum, and the wardrobe assistant says to me: “Galina Vladimirovna, we have some strange pope here.” I say, “What do you mean “a strange pope?” “He, - she says, - was undressing and I saw that he had some military orders.” Well, ok. I went to my study - and here, who do we have, in the hall through which I am walking, the same pope is sitting. I approach him. For some reason, I decided that he was Ukrainian. I do not know. I go up to him and say, “Good afternoon.” And he turns to me so angrily and says: “You should have congratulated me.” I say: “With what?”. He says: “Today is February 23!”. I say (and he is a pope). No, that's not what he said. Not “you should have congratulated me", but "you had to congratulate me.” And I tell him: “I don't have to do anything for anyone!” - turned around and went to the office. Well, I looked up the news on the Internet. I calmed down and went outside - I was wonder where he was. I'm coming out - is he there? He’s there. He went to the hall. And I went to the hall. He comes out of the hall of icon painting, sees me, goes straight to me with an outstretched hand: “Mrs. Director, I want to thank you for such a wonderful exposition, which...” well, in general, he started saying some general words. I ask him: “Please tell me why I haven’t seen you here before. We have hold events here many times (meaning the opening of this exposition or that icon painting one. We invited representatives of various faiths. I have never seen you. What church do you represent?" And he says: “I am not from Donetsk.” I say: “From Kyiv?” And he says: “Take it up a notch?”. “Are you actually from Moscow?” He says: “Yes, I am”.

  • “Here is the exhibition. They are inviting me and, therefore, they are forcing me to accept (we removed the entire exposition, so nothing happened). So, “People's Republic” - they answer, they brought the exhibition from russia. Well, it's pointless to argue here, not to give space. The exhibition is from the reserve “Borodinskoie Polie”. In the museum some people are walking, no one asks me where to go, what to do, some men are walking, carrying something - I come out: “What's going on here, who's in charge here?”, - “I'm in charge.” - “Please, let's get to know each other, I am the director of this museum, Halyna Volodymyrivna Chumak, and who are you?” - “And I am Valerii Romualdovych Klimov, director of the reserve”... And so, the exhibition opens. So, the acting deputy minister, with whom I had been working for 8 years, she knows me very well, she still works there, she takes care of the museums. Everyone is afraid of everything - they didn't even give me the floor. They hired an actor from the Drama Theater to say everything nicely - he doesn't know positions, he doesn't know names, he makes mistakes. Everyone spoke. And in the end... “We give the floor (this actor is speaking) to the merited worker of culture, director of the museum - Galina Vladimirovna Chumak.” My blood rushed to my face, I freaked out - what is a “merited worker of culture?” Of what? Of which country? They cut out this piece when I said: “I want to remind you that I am a merited worker of the culture of Ukraine.” And then we open the exhibition.”

  • “By the way, not a confessor - just a Father. They turned all their churches (Moscow Patriarchate) into a tribune. I have no doubt about it. In every large temple, a major, colonel, lieutenant colonel - I don't know, a military man, sits in a cassock”. “Even in Donetsk?” “I have no doubts. I have an example. So, the city of Slovyansk, a museum in a one-story building. Nearby is a building called “Villa Maria”. A large, beautiful building. How many times the director of the Slovyansk Museum, Nelia Yakivna, asked the authorities, appealed to them - hand it over to us, it is all neglected, we are already suffocating, the collection has grown, we would make an exhibition hall here, we would make a permanent exposition an art one... there is no place – no place for the fund store, for employees – no offices, nothing. And no mayor of the city made the decision to do it for the people, for the city, for the museum. Because everyone was looking for money, I have no doubts. And, finally, the infamous Nelia Shtepa – there was such a woman - she leased it for 49, 99 years, I don't know, to some strange organization - like a church. But for some reason, not only people in cassocks, but also some soldiers without signs go there. This is 2012. The director of the museum is calling me. And why me? Because at that time I was the head of the Board of Museum Directors of the Donetsk Region. She calls me and says: “Halyna Volodymyrivna, I don't understand anything - what kind of church is this? No name, some kind of military men are going there - what is that?” And it was they already preparing. The Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is not a correct name. It is the “Church of the Orthodox Russian Army”, have you seen this? “Is it written just like this?” “No, but that's what they said”. - “Ah, that's what they called it between each other.” – “And there they imported weapons. This is how “we” worked. “We” were preparing. How can I trust a “Father”? I can not….”

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    Lviv, 02.11.2022

    duration: 03:15:05
    media recorded in project Voices of Ukraine
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“I understood that I would never return to Donetsk again. Because Donetsk that was there before 2014 is a different life.”

Halyna Chumak (2000)
Halyna Chumak (2000)
photo: family archive

Halyna Volodymyrivna Chumak was born on August 20, 1948 in Stalino (current Donetsk). She spent her childhood in the Greek village Karan, where her mother, a Greek by nationality, comes from. The only thing known about her father is that he comes from Western Ukraine. She graduated from Donetsk National University, philological faculty, department of Russian language and literature. Because of her Greek nationality she had difficulties with employment during the Soviet era. She worked as the secretary of the director of the Donetsk Department of Physical and Organic Chemistry of the Institute of Physical Chemistry named after L.V. Pysarzhevskyi under Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR named after Academician L. M. Lytvynenko, later - a laboratory assistant. She was a methodologist at the Donetsk Regional House of Cultural Workers; worked as the responsible secretary of the Donetsk regional organization of the Society of Book Lovers, on the basis of which she founded the “Ukrainian Club” in 1992. From 1997 to 2004, she was the head of the department of cultural institutions of the Department of Culture of the Donetsk Regional State Administration. From 2004 to 2016, she was the director of the Donetsk Regional Art Museum, received the title Merited Worker of Culture of Ukraine. She lead an active social and cultural life: she held Ukrainian literary evenings, was a member of the “Knowledge” Society in Donetsk, promoted the study of the Ukrainian language in Donetsk region. She is also the Chairperson of the League of Greek Artists of Donetsk region “Halateia”, a member of the Council of the Fedir Stambulzhy Donetsk Society of Greeks, head of the Donetsk organization of Greek women. In 2008, she was elected vice-president of the All-Ukrainian public organization “Ukrainian Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM)” under UNESCO. Since 2016, she has been living in Kyiv and working at the National Art Museum of Ukraine.