Iryna Lashchevska (Lukashevych) Ірина Лащевська (Лукашевич)

* 1945

  • Lithuanians, Latvians lived there, Estonians - all the repressed people were there, of course. Many repressed people lived there. And we were all so happy together, I remember, I have a picture - the first Christmas. Friends came to us: not like friends - they didn't know us, they just lived in Inta already during the war, they were also given free accommodation after prison, and they had the opportunity to visit us. Boys visited us, girls came too. We sang, we sang Ukrainian songs. From there I already heard what it really is - I didn't hear it in Bykyn - what Ukraine is. Everyone sang their Ukrainian songs and no one was afraid of anything.

  • Oh, we lived in Bykyn for two years - as far as I remember - for two years... He wrote a letter to Aunt Mariya… no-no, to Aunt Lisa… my grandmother's sister, they lived standard, they had an apartment. Grandmother's sister - Aunt Lizia, she was called - "Aunt Lizia". Osypenka, 16 - I remember it even now - everyone knew that address and apartment. And dad thought, where should he write - he decided to write to Osypenko, and they would already know how to let us know. And my mother wrote to Aunt Lizia to the Osypenka street, they corresponded because the postal service was working. And dad wrote a letter to Aunt Lizia, and Aunt Lizia sent it to us - we all cried a lot, it was a small piece of paper and an address with dad's handwriting. Mom cried a lot, of course, it was hard. And he said in the letter, he was still alive and that he found us. So we wrote to dad, we were allowed to write, but dad couldn't write us. At first, it was once a year. We could send a parcel once a year, once a year, I don't know how often, for two years - the first years were very difficult. And there are those couple of letters, those first letters, I think I still have them. Every time I read those letters I cry. Because I wrote memoirs, you know, I typed them a little on the computer - then I was crying so hard, I told my son, I couldn't continue. Two hours - no more, I wasn't able to work more than two hours because it's all memories, it's hard. And what did dad write in general, what did he write about? Dad had censorship. When the letter from Dad came, half of it was crossed out. I still have that letter in the museum, it will have to be taken away, half of it was crossed out. Dad said - it's alright, I manage to live somehow, I work as a routine soldier there, and a year counts for two - oh, it didn't help, he had to serve the whole sentence. He was sentenced to 25 years. Dad said - a year counted for two, but he didn't have a salary - no money, but a year for two, they cheated. I understand they were fooling everyone around a lot. Dad wrote... He asked questions, he asked about us, about our health. My mother was answering something - one child was sick, the other was coughing. My father wrote some prescriptions, my father wasn't a doctor, but he loved folk medicine and read a lot of books there, he ordered books on folk medicine. He loved medicinal plants very much because my father himself in his youth years, as he studied at the seminary in Frankivsk, and then in Lviv - he had a stomach ache, he had gastritis. So he knew folk medicine. One old woman in Deliatyn helped him to recover, she cured him with herbs. So my dad believed in the power of herbs and, of course, wrote many prescriptions. He supported my mother spirit, he said - I think it wouldn't last long, maybe I'd be released soon - he always gave us some hope. And the mother wrote him, she asked whether he knew anything about boys, about their sons. Dad answered - no, I don't know. My father didn't want to write to my mother that he met had a date with their son in Lviv, with Yarko, the youngest son. Then he said to Dad, "I didn't kill." Dad said he talked to Yarko, and Yarko said - I didn't kill Galan, I'm not involved. And the officers didn't let them talk there anymore. There, apparently, they spoke with witnesses around - KGB officers were present. So, our family, we have suffered a lot. Then we went to my dad, it took us 10 days, I remember it well. I was already 10 years old.

  • We were in Bykyn until 1956. Well, it was difficult for my mother in Bykyn, of course, it was very difficult for my mother. Mom went to work a little bit. She worked as a guard at the bridge somewhere. And some people were bad, they intentionally stole some wheels from my mother and my mom was kicked out of work. They stole something from her. My mother was fired from that job. I remember Bykyn well. My mother washed bathrobes, she searched for a long time... She washed bathrobes in a nearby shop. She brought that oil, washed that oil, squeezed that oil, dripped. Poor mom… There was nothing to eat, it was very difficult to find something to eat. There was no flour then, in the 1950s there was no flour at all. I remember us standing in line for flour. Well, but the children helped: I take a stand in the line, and I take my friend with me. Then a Russian woman said because my mother came later in the morning or in the middle of the night, and the Russian woman said, "You weren't standing here, Banderovka! I would not let you!" - Mom cried so much, and I cried too, I remember.

  • On November 3, we were taken out of the village, a black raven arrived, I remember the car. I don't know what we managed to take with us. I know that my mother put my older sisters' dresses on me - that's what I remember. I was small and all those dresses were on me. Then one KGB officer said, "Take it, take it with you," - he meant the rug, for my mom to take it with her to Siberia for our dad. "It's cold there, take it, mummy," he said that, maybe he was a humane person, I don't know. So mother took featherbeds, pillows, some carpets from the walls - there was not much to take. I don't know, you couldn't take anything. She took warm things, took some food because she knew that there would be nothing to eat. We were warned before, people have already said something, told us to kill a pig or something so that we have something to eat. My mother did so, it seems that my mother said that they salted it a little, and took the pork with them. But when we were already moving to Poltevna - at the crossing point, they took a lot from us, they left us little, they left something for my mother, well… This saved us later when we were already going to Siberia. We were at the transfer point and the prison for 4 months - no one was there for so long.

  • We lived in a village in a parish house, my father planted trees, there was a big garden. I remember my father taking care of an apiary, feeding us honey, we used to eat delicious honey when we were small. The guests visited us often - my father had a big family, he was hospitable and hosted them. Dad, after the church services in his spare time, went to the garden - he engrafted trees, worked in the garden, and, took care of the bees. We all helped each other. I remember my older brothers, they were big, of course, they carried me in their arms, I remember that. I still have a photo where I am standing in Ukrainian clothes somewhere under a tree, I was photographed. As far as I can feel, I remember their faces, I was 4 years old. But I remember their strong hands lifting me, rocking me, playing with me, their youngest sister.

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“Family hostage” for the murder of poet Halan

Interview recording
Interview recording
photo: photo by Anna Yutchenko

Iryna (Orysia) Lashchevska (maiden name Lukashevych), was born on February 24, 1945, in the village of Soroky-Lvivski (now Pustomyty district of Lviv region) in a large family of Greek Catholic priest Denys and Lukashevych and his wife Sofiya. At the end of October 1949, the Soviet authorities arrested her older brothers Oleksandr, Myron, and Ilariy, who were connected with the OUN armed underground movement. They were charged with the murder of the communist writer Yaroslav Halan in Lviv on October 24, 1949. The entire Lukashevych family was deported to Khabarovsk Krai in Russia, and Father Denys Lukashevych was sentenced to 25 years in prison. After her father’s release from the camp, the family continued to live in a special settlement in Inta for some time. In January 1957, Father Denys Lukashevych was arrested again. After another separation from her husband, Iryna’s mother died soon after. Later, Iryna Lukashevych, together with her sister Lida and brother Zenko, moved to Kolomyia to live with their maternal grandmother and aunt, and her father returned from the camps in 1976.