Oleksandra (Lesya) Krypyakevych (Tsehelska) Олександра (Леся) Крип'якевич (Цегельська)

* 1944  

  • And did the father, in addition to his work, perform his priestly duties? Of course. That's what I wanted to tell you. This is the central line in my family. Because it reflected on everything we did. Whether I was weaving tapestries, whether my brother was a teacher at a medical school, whether he played the violin, or my sister was a pharmacist. It all started with this. That was the main moral core. And we were an army of father cooperation. When there was a search in our house, everyone knew what they had to do. 12 people come in, stomping. Then the brother knew that he had to run to the window and put the rope with all the films outside, then close the window. My mother knew that we had a secret stool and all the notebooks were there, that my father was teaching underground seminarians and my mother was sitting on that stool, and they were looking around and couldn't find it. So each of us knew what to do and what to say. - And could he baptize a child in Siberia? Yes, in Siberia, Liturgies were conducted in our small house. And Father Smal came to us. Professor Boyko came, Zabolotnikov came and Grandma Schwartz came. I remember the Old Believer prayer book - black and I remember how it was opened and I remember how it was written there - Russian Catholic Church. That's the only thing I remembered… Grandmother Schwartz she was a German, with blush on her cheeks and a basket ... she always visited us, and she brought cakes in the basket. That's why we loved Grandma Schwartz visits so much. And the Liturgy was conducted there. Before the sacrament, everyone was making a sign of the cross in their own way, but it was a colossal moment of joy. And my father kept preaching: when we were teenagers, we didn't pay attention to it, and the time came when I heard those words. I heard my father say everything: you will see how this empire will fall apart. And you will see how our church will become widespread. And you will see how the enemy will be disgraced. These were the last words after the Liturgy. Then in Siberia, it was held in the house. And my father conducted Liturgies on a stump in the woods, and in prisons with the orchestra, so... Dad mastered the Morse code, mastered the Estonian language and often someone was confessing to him as a priest by knocking on the pipe, or through the toilet, through the closestool - up and down. The confessions were ingenious and incredible. And in Siberia there were such cases, you know, when an old priest died, and the whole village lost its spiritual center, and but they couldn't live without God, same as we couldn't - and then they put a chair, and put the epitrophile of the perished priest on the top, they knelt and confessed in from of him.

  • At that time we were with my grandmother and stayed together. And then, when one day a car arrived at night and I remember that noise on the stairs, because there were so many boots on the wooden stairs while searching our house, and then a soldier in an overcoat came in, I remember this. "Old woman, dress your puppies, the car is waiting!" - he said. And from time to time he shouted: "Hurry up, old woman, hurry up." My grandmother was 50 years old. And she was as beautiful as Sophia Lauren. She was a very beautiful grandmother, Miss Zolochynska (...) And my grandmother puts my sister in white tights and she cries. She is 3 years old and I am 5 years old. And my brother dresses sadly himself, he was already a schoolboy. And I remember how we are dressed, my grandmother still takes and pulls some bags. And a jar of milk. And they make us sit on our bags in the car, the usual car which usually carries manure and garbage. I remember that jar standing on the car and the soldier climbed up and kicked that jar. And so the milk spilled over that... and the moon was shining.

  • And that's why this fear, this trauma, this stress that we children experienced, they fell on our lives and actually deprived us of our childhood. Because my father was taken away and all the years of fun with my parents did not exist. Because, for example, at the age of 3, 5, 7, your father takes you in his arms in a completely different way, he talks to you, plays with you, and so on. And this is the period when we did not see my father, during those 7 years he was in prison, and then came to us in Siberia. That was - I never thought about it, but it came to my mind, because I remember how my father came back - we didn't even recognize him, he was just some man for us. Only the older brother recognized him when he was already in the house. And then he leaned against his leg and was afraid to let go, because my father is already with us. And in fact, when walked outside in the winter: I looked out the window and there was snow everywhere, and my grandmother ask him to bring a jar of oil. The only heating we had were those oil lamps, and he was walking with that jar in that snow tunnel, because it was snowing in Siberia, and we lived not in the city, but in the workers' settlement, that's what it was called. And he met a man with a sledge - he was carrying some belongings. And so I saw it and remembered this moment... They didn't recognize each other... the father didn't recognize the son. For him it was just a boy. In short, my father put me on his laps and played that game people play with a three-year-old child. He was saying a poem: (Rhymed poem in original): the gentleman rides on a horse, and after the gentleman a villein rides on a horse, and a horse goes hop! Game like this. But I was already... I was already a teenager and my dad played that childish games this with me. I was thinking - what is he doing? Why is he doing this... So those missed years of fun, my dad stayed at that phase, because every parent develops with their child. He enters his children's world and plays with them.

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    Lviv, Ukraine, 15.07.2020

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    duration: 02:24:36
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Activist and volunteer Lesya Krypyakevych: father’s arrest and lost childhood

Bohdana, Oleksandra and Andriy Tsehelski
Bohdana, Oleksandra and Andriy Tsehelski
photo: Personal archive of the witness

Oleksandra (Lesya) Krypyakevych, maiden name - Tsehelska, was born on May 27, 1944, in the town of Stryi in the family of Marta and Artemiy Tsehelski. Her father was a priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In January 1946, NKVD officers arrested the father for refusing to convert to Orthodoxy and sentenced him to five years in prison a year later. In 1949, her mother was arrested. In 1950, Soviet soldiers deported the entire family, including little Lesya, to Siberia. In 1956, after the rehabilitation of their parents, the family returned from Tomsk to Lviv. In 1970-1980, the Krypyakevych family house became a place of publication, distribution and hiding of illegal literature, secret meetings of dissidents and former political prisoners, and later the center of the first structures of the People’s Movement of Ukraine (NRU). She continues her public activity in Lviv.