"I remember it very well. We had lived on the outskirts of Kyiv back then, and the huge trucks filled with concrete were passing by our house. One after the other - several weeks - they'd go to the main road, where from one could virtually already see Chernobyl. It was very near. I recall well that it happened on 26th of April, but nobody had any idea. Even on 4th or 5th of May, people had still not known what happened."
"This was peculiar. I was wondering why they invested so much money into such things; there were thousands of books that I'm sure nobody ever read. They dealt with ideological issues such as, the history of some of Ukraine's regions from 1918 up until WWII. These things were written by people who were pursuing a communist career; they had to write a book in order to obtain their PhD. It was surrealist literature: thousands and thousands of books nobody had ever read. We laughed at it; all of us were drinking vodka during working hours, making fun of the books we were publishing. We all knew very well that nobody needed them, and that it was just about the plan and the money. The books were, then, exhibited in huge stores where nobody ever bought them. However, each library in Ukraine had to buy those books and put it on its racks. It was regular Kafka all around us, every single day."
"This was the normal way to go. We always had to come up with a name which would be acceptable to the ideological commission. Each and every exhibition or a movie had a control commission composed of ideological workers who had to give their consent. They would even come to an exhibition and say, that this and that was not nice and had to be removed. So, it was an ideological inspection. Then, one could see the empty walls at exhibition. Last minute, we were forced to remove a painting or a graphics piece just because the head of the communist artist association so decided. There was always that man up there responsible for a proper ideological image of the exhibition."
Radiation was spreading from Chernobyl while children were playing outside
Viacheslav Ilyashenko was born on the 5th of June, 1959, in Kyiv, Ukraine. In 1982, he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Lviv. He worked as a graphic designer, an illustrator in a publishing house and as a teacher in an art school. In the 1970s and 80s, he witnessed the Soviet strict censorship of publishing books and organizing art exhibitions. At the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, Ilyashenko was in Kyiv, which was affected by high radiation levels. Viacheslav was disillusioned by the authorities putting a seal on information about the accident, and, thus, knowingly allowing civilians to be exposed to radiation. Several of his acquaintances later died because of the suppressed information. In 1992, Viacheslav made use of an opportunity to resettle in Czechoslovakia, for his wife was from Volhynia and had Czech ancestors. In the early 1990s, Czechoslovakia allowed the return of these people. He settled down with his wife and two children in the Náchod region. There, he found work as a designer and as a children’s art teacher. Over the years, Viacheslav produced a number of paintings for religious buildings in eastern Bohemia. Viacheslav Ilyashenko has stayed in Czechia and established a travel agency through which he organizes programs for Russian speaking tourists.