Opanas Zalyvakha was born in the village Husyntsi, located in the Kup’iansky district, near Kharkiv in 1925, fleeing from the famine unfolding in the Ukrainian countryside in 1932-33 to the Far East. He studied in Irkutsk, went to middle school in Leningrad, and evacuated with most of the city to Samarkand during Word War II. He returned to Leningrad in order to resume his studies in 1946 at the Soviet Academy of Arts. In his second year, he was reprimanded for “behaviour unbefitting a soviet student” and expelled, solidifying Zalyvakha’s general discomfort with the Soviet regime to which his childhood and peripatetic early years contributed. He held a variety of odd jobs before landing at an art fond in Kaliningrad. It was only in 1955 that he was allowed to return to his studies at the Soviet Art Academy, which he finished in 1960.
His art praxis in Kosiv, in Hutsul region of Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, in 1957 was restorative for his restless spirit and had a lasting impact on his work and evolving worldview. After completing his studies, he worked briefly at an art fond in Tyumen in 1961, before returning to Ukraine, joining the union of artists in Ivano-Frankivsk. In the fall of 1962, he became better acquainted with the cultural intelligentsia based in Kyiv, and began attending gatherings organized by the Kyiv Club of Creative Youth, which drew him into the national cultural renaissance underway. He became friends with Ivan Svitlychnyi, M. Kotsiubynska, M. and B Horyn’, Viacheslav Chornovil and O. Antoniv, who helped him understand “the essence of Moscow imperialism.” In 1964, together with Alla Horska, L. Semkin, H. Zubchenko and H. Sevruk he created a stained glass window called “Shevchenko. Mother” at Kyiv University in honour of the 150th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birth. A defiant, fierce Shevchenko stands with his right fist raised, holding a woman in his other arm symbolizing Ukraine, beleaguered and abused by Soviet power.
The image in the foyer of the Sixtier Museum is a reproduction of the only known sketch of this work. The stained glass window was commissioned by the university and on March 9, 1964 the artists were supposed to have completed the process of painting the sketch onto on large glass windows found on the first floor. If the university liked the work, the next step would have been creating the window from shards of colored glass held in place by metalwork. However, the black metal created lines that made it looked like Shevchenko and the woman he was holding were behind bars. Upon seeing this, the party committee of the university ordered the window’s immediate destruction. As a result, Alla Horska and Liudmila Semykina were thrown out of the artists Union (though their membership was restored the following year). After this, the KGB also began actively surveilling Zalyvakha.
On August 27, 1965, Zalyvakha was arrested along with many other members of the creative intelligentsia for reading and distributing samvydav literature. In closed court proceedings in Ivano-Frankivsk, he was sentenced to 5 years of hard labour, for violating article 62 part 1 of Soviet Ukraine’s criminal code. He served out his sentence in Mordovian camp No. 11, though he was allowed to write letters to sixtiers who remained on the outside, including Alla Horska, V. Kushnir and N. and I. Svitlychnyi. He was not allowed to paint, but after many protests and demands by other inmates, and a collective letter of protest drafted by other sixtiers likening this punishment to the Tsarist authorities forbidding Taras Shevchenko from writing and painting, he was eventually allowed to make small graphics and postcards. During random searches the camp administration destroyed about 200 such works, but some ex librises and drawings survived.
In August 1970, he returned to Ivano-Frankivsk, where due to his protests on behalf of the historian Valentyn Moroz, imprisoned in the Beria Reserve, and at funeral of his friend Alla Horska he lived for six months under stringent administrative surveillance. The art fond refused to give him work upon his return, and he thus ended up doing factory work. His apartment was searched twice. From 1971 until the early 1980s, he worked as a bookmaker for the publishers “Veselka” and “Kameniar.” In July 1980, the KGB confiscated many of his works during yet another search of his apartment. He continued working and experimenting in the monumental arts, interior design, books and album covers, including several volumes of collected works written by other sixtiers. After being banned for many years, Zalyvakha was finally able to publicly show his work at an art exhibition in 1988 in both Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv. In 1989, he also held an exhibition in Kyiv and several in Toronto, London and New York.
- Irkutsk, Russia
- Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine
- Kosiv, Ukraine
- Samarkand, Uzbekistan
During the World War II he participated in clandestine education at Warsaw University of Technologies. He was a prisoner of Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. After the war, between 1945 and 1947 he worked as a graphic designer in the Office of Capital's Reconstruction (Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy), special unit devoted to planning of post-war Warsaw reconstruction.
Zamecznik worked also as a scenographer, he designed logotypes, emblems exhibitions' scenography, and book illustrator.
In 1960s he was running the atelier of Photographic Design at the Academy of Fines Arts in Warsaw. That said, he remained in the official scene of Polish art. However, his creative works are described as opposed to requirements of socrealist propaganda. Unlike many of the art creators at that time, he concentrated on the form of his works, often nuancing the political message of the poster or book cover. His artwork is perceived as complicated and ambiguous, breaking with the dominant narrative. His journeys to the Western Europe as a designer working on Polish exhibitions enabled him to cope with the shortage economy and to get new materials for works.
Zamecznik was one of the finest representatives of Polish school of poster. He was one of the first graphic designers to use and re-use photographs in designing film and propaganda posters. However, in his art photography served not only as a part of graphic designing, but was a separate genre of artistic fulfilment. He exhibited his photographs at separate events, however a huge part of the thousands of his photographs remained unknown to wider public until Archeology of Photography Foundation re-discovered his figure in the 2000s.
- Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
Dinu Zamfirescu (b. 26 June 1929 in Bucharest) became a victim of the communist regime after the takeover of power. He was detained on political grounds several times and expelled from the Faculties of both Law and History, where he was a student at the end of the 1940s. He was permitted to re-enroll and complete his law studies only in 1973. In Romania, he was unable to work in the field of his studies, being considered an "enemy of the people." For this reason he worked for many years until the 1970s on construction sites in Romania. Later, he joined the Pasteur Institute in Bucharest. In 1975 he settled in France after being bought by a sister who had settled there. In Paris he was actively involved in the organisation and activity of the Romanian exile community and worked as a BBC journalist. After the collapse of the communist regime in Romania, he returned to the country. He was one of the founders of one of the historical Romanian democratic parties, forbidden by the Communists, the National Liberal Party. He was among the founders of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile, which he headed, and he is currently a member of its Scientific Council. Since 2012 he has been a member of the Collegium of the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives.
- Bucharest, Romania
Gheorghe Zgherea (born in 1932, Văleni, Vulcănești district) was a person of peasant background who hailed from a moderately prosperous family with a strong tradition of religious dissent. Zgherea acquired the basic elements of primary education, attending the village school till the age of twelve (i.e., until 1944), which means his instruction took place in a Romanian educational institution. After the war, he worked in his parents’ household and then apparently joined the collective farm, together with his parents, in 1948. However, in December 1949, he became a member of the Inochentist community in his native village of Văleni. This decision probably resulted from a combination of his parents’ influence and example (their house was used as a gathering place for the group members) and the efforts of some of his relatives and acquaintances (notably the preacher Elena Ciobanu). In any case, it is obvious that family connections and local networks played a crucial role in Zgherea’s conversion. Upon his entering the community, he received a metal cross (a symbol of belonging to his new community) and some Inochentist texts. However, oral sermons held at the periodic assemblies of the faithful were the preferred mode of communication within the group. Within a year, by December 1950, Zgherea had advanced within the local Inochentist hierarchy to become a preacher himself. It appears that, after being consecrated as a preacher, he had to leave his village in order to propagate the Inochentist message in the neighbouring areas. Starting from early 1951, Zgherea became effectively an outcast within Soviet society, entering the underground network of Inochentist village preachers. He travelled (“roamed,” in Soviet parlance) through a number of villages in the southern and central regions of the MSSR, attempting to recruit new members and to spread his community’s radical religious views among the local peasants. He initially worked under the supervision of a senior “brother,” but in the summer of 1951 he became an independent preacher. Besides spreading the millenarian and eschatological message of his community, Zgherea also encouraged the peasants to ignore or reject the policies of the regime, to boycott the Party and the Communist Youth League, and to strictly abide by customary religious practices, including fasting periods. He especially emphasised the refusal to work on Sundays as a prerequisite for eternal salvation. His proselytising and recruitment efforts were not particularly impressive (he only managed to recruit three or four of his fellow villagers into the group). However, the Soviet authorities linked Zgherea’s case to a previous trial of six influential members of the movement, including several of his relatives and his recruiter, Elena Ciobanu. The existence of this clandestine network increased the alarm of the regime, which feared that Inochentism’s appeal in rural areas might undermine the hold of Soviet power on the peasantry. Zgherea was first arrested in December 1952, but managed to escape from police custody during his transportation to the police headquarters in Cahul. He was apprehended again on 2 May 1953 and, after a one-month-long inquiry, was sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labour and to five years of suspension of civil rights, according to articles 54-10, part 2, and 54-11 of the Penal Code of the Ukrainian SSR (“anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda and membership in an anti-Soviet organisation aimed at overthrowing, undermining or weakening Soviet power”). His sentence was revised downwards (to five years in a forced labour camp and three years of suspension of civil rights) in June 1955. He was subsequently amnestied according to the special decree of 27 March 1953 concerning the release of political prisoners. Zgherea was finally rehabilitated by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Moldova in December 2005. No further data about his fate after 1955 are available in his case file.
- Chișinău, Moldova
Zhelev was allowed to return to Sofia in 1972. He was then allowed to defend his dissertation and began to work as a scholar at the Research Institute for Culture at the Committee for Culture. He became head of the Culture and Personality Department (1977–82) and rose to the position of Senior Research Fellow (1979).
At the beginning of March 1982, the People's Youth [Narodna mladezh] publishing house published Zhelev's book Fascism. The text was written during Zhelev’s time in Grozden, with the original title Totalitarian State. The monograph was ready at the end of 1967, but no publishing house would accept the manuscript for publishing. In this work, Zhelev analyzes the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Franco Spain, and describes the basic principles of fascist regimes. Without directly referring to communism, he presents obvious analogies. Three weeks after publication State Security ordered its confiscation because of its "lack of a partisan class approach". Zhelev was removed from the Scientific Council of the Research Institute for Culture at the Committee for Culture. Additionally, the department he led was closed by a so-called “reorganization”. However enough copies (approximately 6000) had been printed that it could be circulated through unofficial channels in Bulgaria and abroad in the following years. The book thus received a large positive response.
In the following years, Zhelev continued to publish his works as samizdat. At the same time, he became a Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, although he criticized the aesthetic education programs of the government’s Committee on Culture's in his work.
Around the beginning of 1988, Zhelev organized the first collective dissident actions. He participated in the organization of the Public Committee for the Environmental Protection of Ruse [Obshtestven komitet za ekologichna zashtita na Ruse]; he was a co-founder of the Club for Support of Openness and Reconstruction [Klub za podkrepa na glasnostta i preustroystvoto]. He gave numerous interviews for radio stations such as Deutsche Welle, The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the BBC. He was among the dissidents who condemned the so-called Revival Process, i.e., the forceful assimilation of Bulgaria’s Turkish minority, which he called "one of the most terrible crimes" of the communist regime. In September 1989, Zhelev initiated of negotiations between leaders of various informal movements to build a common coalition against the Communist Party. From these talks, the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) emerged in December 1989 as the first anti-communist coalition. Zhelev was unanimously elected its chairman. As chairman of the UDF, Zhelev participated in the roundtable negotiations with representatives of the Bulgarian Communist Party regarding the transition towards parliamentary democracy (January–May 1990). In August 1990, the newly elected parliament elected him as president and in January 1992 he became the first president of Bulgaria elected by popular vote. After the end of his presidential mandate (January 1997) he devoted much energy to fostering regional and international cooperation. Zhelev was the founder and president of the Balkan Political Club, a union of former political leaders from Southeast Europe, and served as an Honorary Co-Chair of the World Justice Project.
For more information, see Description of Fond 1512, Zhelyu Mitev Zhelev – Central State Archives at Archives State Agency (in Bulgarian) at http://188.8.131.52:84/Process.aspx?type=Fund&agid=41&flgid=11959292