Alik (Oleh) Olisevych Алік (Олег) Олісевич

* 1958  

  • "When we started our protest campaign here, the first protest took place on September 20, 1987. The Poles heard about our actions, by the way, and immediately established contacts with us. I have correspondence that was published at that time and later, by various dissident circles, Czechs and Poles - my correspondence with Jacek Czaputowicz. I have it saved, and have it digitized. I gave him different ideological and conceptual thoughts about what was happening to us and what we wanted. And, in fact, together with them - with "Wolność i Pokój" and Solidarity, Jacek Kuron was with other representatives of Solidarity - we did such joint, as Poles like to say "zadymy" - protests, appeals, we also wrote letters. Since 1987, we have already established contacts with Poles and Czechs. I went to the Czech Republic in 1989, and to Poland, for the first time abroad in 1988, in October, at the invitation of Polish hip dissidents."

  • "And here we come to Latvia, and Mykhailo Bombin tells me - Alik, there must be this event. I say - you don't say! We went in secret because Mykhailo Bombin was also closely watched by the KGB. He was such a famous person - he had his hair up to his waist, I'll show you, I have it in the photos. What could we do? We went to our friends - there was Yuriy Novosiolov, we stayed one or two nights at his place. We approach the city center - the sea of people, the sea of police, everything was blocked. We looked at those slogans: Latvians in Latvian and Russian "Freedom of Latvia", "Freedom Latvia", "Freedom to political prisoners". I saw people carrying flowers to the monument to Milda, as they call it. Then the next things happened - Ikarus buses were brought by police, they made an interval of almost five meters and created 2-3 files of police officers. One by one, they parted, let you go, you walked around thirty meters to the monument and laid flowers - that's for Latvians. And other people were watching and clapping, shouting, they were arrested there by cops, cops were trying to take away cameras from those who took pictures. According to Radio Liberty America, there were about ten thousand people - the first political action in the Soviet Union. The largest protest campaign was in Latvia. I said, Oleg, let's go. We thought we would bring flowers, maybe they would let us. We went to the market, bought flowers, and we were walking among the people. I thought - we needed to play some kind of role so that they would believe us and let us go. There were many Latvian emigrants - from Sweden, from Finland, from other cities. And I had a shabby denim suit, I also had a bag, with a text in Latin letters - I really looked like a foreigner. And Oleh Salo was a fair-haired blond. We approached the area - there were three rows of police. I approached them and I had to somehow transform into a foreigner. I say, "Excuse me, we came from Stockholm and wanted to lay flowers." And they said, "Ah" .... (?) Two, four stars - that's the captain. "I'll ask now, I'll ask the boss" - he ran somewhere. A rat comes, red as a pig, with such a huge belly, about one hundred and twenty kilograms - a colonel. Red-cheeked, head like two of mine, like a bear - "What happened?", - "Foreigners, comrade colonel. Foreigners!"

  • I say, "We have come, yes. Our parents are from here, from Latvia. And we were born there - in Sweden, in Stockholm. We came to see our homeland." He was shocked, and people said, "Let them in!" - and they started telling him something in Latvian. And the cops were in shock, cops didn't know what to do anymore and all attention was already on us. "Okay! One person!" - because they let in one by one. I say, "I'm sorry, but this is my friend. We made a thousand kilometers, we want to go together." "Okay! Let the two of them go." Girls, that was something. The cops free our way, those three rows between the buses let us walk through them. The area is as large as Mickiewicz's here. The monument stands in the middle of the square - and there are still thirty meters to go. And inside this area - there were KGB people with walkie-talkies in civilian clothes, without uniform - there were thirty people. And we were shocked as we saw them, but what could you do - we were let in. What a hubbub it was, people were shouting "Freedom!", "Latvia!" in Latvian and we go with flowers. Here I have to show you how it all happened. This is how we go boldly - stairs, people sitting on trees, buses, rumble. I think we need to make such a theatrical hip scene. And so I went on one knee - bam! I hold flowers like this. And this is Victory, a symbol of victory. And Oleh Salo did like that to them. I get up, lay flowers, in general - I wish you could see it, it affected me so much. We returned - and walked to the exit. KGB officers run up to us from all sides - and took us by our hands. And I started saying, "What are you doing! We are from Stockholm! Protest note!" And people in Latvian, in Russian shout and stagger buses, buses were moving like this. And they were afraid of us: "Let them go, let them go! We will be crushed here!" We left, we were embraced by Latvians. I said, "Sorry, we are from Ukraine, from Lviv. We are in solidarity with you."

  • "That was the second year in a row when the event was planned in Lviv, because before that there was the first holiday of Lviv - City Day, in the 86th. This was the second year in a row with a city holiday. The streets were all blocked, people were still ... how to say it better ... ? This was anovelty for Lviv, there were no cars, thousands of people. But I knew, and so I say, Oleh, let´s make some kind of situation. Let´s draw a couple of posters at my house. We will not tell anyone yet so that we are not stopped there immediately. We drew about three slogans, I have in the photos there: "Publicity", "USSR - America - nuclear disarmament ", "Human rights -to life", "Freedom" well, those were our slogans. Then we went to Armenian street. On that day, September 20, we approached the street, that was, so to say, the enclave of freedom. We called it the "Ministry of Culture" of Armenian street. We approached there, we were surrounded by young people, and we say ... And young people are young people, that is always the vanguard. "Friends, we have three posters." And we encourage others to go to the demonstration. It was so, you know, both spontaneously and prepared. We wrote, girls already wrote various slogans with lipstick. There were five slogans on white paper posters: Publicity- the first one; USSR - America - nuclear disarmament, then we had just Freedom; - it meant freedom in general, then Alternative military service, because we did not want the army to use us as cannon fodder as, for example, in Afghanistan. And there was something else there, I say we had about five slogans. And that´s how we came out of Armenian street, there were thirty of us - we were hippies and pacifists. There were even a couple of people from Kyiv who came to us - young people with long hair. And we wenz to Rynok Square, there were a lot of people where the department store was - now the Beer Theater - we went and already raised the posters. People accompanied us and, interestingly, we immediately walked along Krakivska Street, walked around, made a small ring near the Cinema House - the former House of Officers - on Teatralna Street. Near the Pidkova we went out and went through the center to the Statue of Liberty. We told everyone: "Oh, our Freedom. We have it the same as in America" We started: "Freedom! Freedom! Publicity in action!", and there the young people were already improvising what they shouted what they wanted. "Sovdepia - no! Ukraine! Ukraine!" different slogans. When we then walked through the center, and then the second time we went through the center - there were around two hundred people walking with us. People. People were tired and wanted that freedom. I´m not saying the way we say it now - "independence". There were those who wanted Ukraine to be like Ukraine just by itself. There were no such people that immediately started to, those were the first attempts. It was even difficult for people to understand now because there was the Soviet Union, Ukraine was a part of it, the way many other republics were - the Baltics, Belarus. They were all suppressed by that community of the empire. We just wanted to be free."

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    Lviv, Ukraine, 30.07.2020

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„We just wanted to be free“ – Ukrainian hipies vs. Soviet system

Alik Olisevych, Riga, Latvia, 1979
Alik Olisevych, Riga, Latvia, 1979
photo: Personal archive of the witness

Alik (Oleh) Olisevych was born on September 10, 1958 in Lviv. During World War II, his parents were taken to forced labour in Germany. After the Soviet army entered Berlin, his father was sentenced to 10 years in a concentration camp for alleged treason. His mother was imprisoned for 5 years in forced labour camps, after returning to Kyiv in 1945. Father received permission to move to Lviv only in 1957, a year before Alik´s birth. Alik´s mother died in 1965, he spent his childhood in Soviet boarding school and run away several times. After 1968 he twice entered the program of “re-education” of difficult teenagers, where he met older hippies, who introduced him to hippie culture, Western music, foreign press, and samizdat. After that, he joined the hippie and “hipsters” community in Lviv. The trigger for Mr. Alik’s socio-political activities was the formation of Solidarity in Poland in 1980. He started writing letters to the editors of foreign magazines (Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia). One of these letters was published in the Yugoslav magazine Jukebox in 1982 and Mr. Olisevych underwent a number of interrogations by KGB officers. In October 1988, Alik went abroad for the first time - to Czechoslovakia, where he witnessed the preparation of public and political protests. On August 23, 1987, Alik and friends took part in a protest rally in Riga on the anniversary of the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. After that Alik Olisevych together with Oleh Salo organized a demonstration for human rights in Lviv on the City Day - September 20, 1987, about 200 people joined in. In 1987, Moscow dissident Oleksandr Rubchenko invited Alik Olisevych to head the Dovira human rights group in Lviv. 1991-1992 - Alik Olisevych lived in Yugoslavia with his Yugoslav wife. Now Alik Olisevych is retired and works as a lighting operator in Lviv Solomiya Krushelnytska National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in Lviv.