The interview with the Director of the National Historical Memorial Preserve "Babyn Yar" Glazunov Boris Ivanovich for newspaper "Einikite"
Whether Babyn Yar connects us?
This year the world will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the tragedy of Babyn Yar. After so many years, only in February of this year, authorities in Kyiv officially assigned the territory under the National Historical Memorial Preserve "Babyn Yar", which was created by the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2007 and last year received the status of National. Today we are talking with the director of the Preserve "Babyn Yar" Boris Glazunov.
Our reference: Boris Glazunov was born in 1967 in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskii, in Kyiv region, received two higher educations (first he graduated from the energy department at Kyiv Institute of Technology in Kyiv, and then the Faculty of Law at National University in Lviv). He worked as the secretary in the National Historical and Ethnographic Reserve in his hometown; as the head of the department in the regional administration; as the deputy’s assistant in the Supreme Council; since 1993 he has been the vice chairman of the International society for Human Rights - Ukrainian section. He has been the director of the National Historical Memorial Preserve "Babi Yar” for 3 years.
- Boris Ivanovich, when you were appointed to this position , who and what tasks put in front of you?
- Initially, we were under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine, but almost immediately it was made decision about the resubordination of Reserve to Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. Transfer process took ... year and a half. At the same time for the Ministry we were "not ours", and for the Institute we were "not yet ours" and of course it influenced our activities.
My task was to create the Reserve and in the statute the main tasks are written as follows:
- to safe and perpetuate the memory of Holocaust , Nazi terror and political repression victims; identifying, learning, keeping and preservation the objects of cultural heritage; organization of scientific research, museum, sightseeing and exhibition work with the purpose of presenting to the population the history of tragic events of mass destruction of inhabitants of Kyiv and prisoners of war by the Nazis in Babyn Yar, political repression.
- From the above, it is unclear whether the task of creating a museum of Babyn Yar was delivered to you?
- But it goes without saying - to perpetuate the memory of the victims of Nazi terror, for storage and display of documents, materials, placement of museum workers, technical staff we need the museum areas. For the near future we plan to use about 20 employees. But we do not have own building. We have been on Baseina Street, in this building, for 2.5. Kirill Ananyevich Polishchuk, the chairman of the Christian Democratic Party of Ukraine , has given us to use this building because of his kindness and good location to me personally. I am grateful to him for that
- Did not Jewish organizations offer their help to you, did not invite to work with them?
- First Ilia Myhailovich Levitas kindly provided us a room in the building of the Jewish Council of Ukraine, , but when the number of our employees began to grow, raised the question about new building, and here Kirill Ananyevich Polishchuk helped us.
-Tell me, how have you personally reacted to the idea of creation of the reserve? Not as a designated director, but as a citizen of Ukraine, who was born in this country?
- I believe that we are very late, we had to create this reserve 65 years ago. Perhaps, there is no such a tragic place in other capital of the world, and it is still not properly executed and the memory of thousands of victims not revere in a dignified manner.
- But someone may say that today there is a large, solid monument to the victims of Babyn Yar, a monument to Jewish organizations Minor, monument to Kyivan crypto Tatiana Marcus, from time to time there are new monuments and memorials. Maybe this is enough and does not necessarily have to spend state funds, which is not enough for hospitals, schools, pensions, transport, etc.?
- It's true, funds from the state is not a lot. But until today the grounds of Babyn Yar was essentially parkland where people grilled kebabs, walked their dogs, and that can not be tolerated. Generally, one must understand that this place is special, unique, sacred, and so there must be a memorial museum complex. I am sure that in any other European country it would have already existed. But we consider ourselves Europeans.
-Where did you start your director's work?
- The first thing I had to do - was to achieve land allocation for the reserve. If you have not got the right to use the land, you can not even drive a stick into the ground. Unfortunately, the process of land acquisition was extremely hard, I had to spend a lot of time and effort in order to achieve that, that seemed to be done by itself. The decision was made at the highest level.
- And who threw a monkey-wrench into the works?
- All kinds of people and organizations. From the negligent officials to businessmen who have had designs on this land.
- Were the business projects on this land?
- Of course. For example, a plan to build a sensational hotel, there was even a decision of Kyiv City Council on this matter. Judge by the obstacles that some persons have created, obviously , were other plans. There is a military term - defenses, and so we had to overcome it. And every line had to be taken by storm. For example, the resolution of the Mayor for the manufacture of the project land acquisition, we received 9 months.
- But why?
- It is necessary to ask the people who did it. They did not want to allocate land for us! At some point, they just said that the land will not give to us, and in general all stopped: no approvals, no decisions.
- Well, how did you work the way out?
- Ilya Mikhailovich Levitas went to the incumbent at that time President of the country Yushchenko and personally arranged for the activities related to the 70th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy. And then was issued a presidential decree, in which, at my request, Ilya Mikhailovich wrote 3 points, in particular - to oblige the city administration to give us the land. They could not dismiss this argument. And how many letters and parliamentary inquiries we wrote before the Decree. And unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe ... But even after the Decree they were confident that they could stop us, even at the last turn. Miscalculated.
In fact, last spring the final point on this issue put Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. At first, Valery Fedorovich Soldatenko (the director of the Institute of National Remembrance ) adressed him. After some time, Azarov M.Y. arrived to the Babyn Yar to participate in a wreath laying ceremony, and Soldatenko V.F led me to the Prime Minister. We talked together with Mykola Azarov, he asked me some questions, asked if there were any problems, and I immediately told them. And he immediately ordered: " To clench all matters until the first of November!"
And the car began to work, and began completely different work. In February of this year we received acts on the permanent using of ground for the service and functioning of the Preserve. And now we can start to design, coordinate and confirm a General Development Plan of the Reserve.
- What is the territory of the Reserve?
- 28 hectares.
- Is that exactly the area that was originally planned under the Reserve? Do not you have to make concessions?
- I had to. You know, you could fight more than 100 years for big territory, but we must understand that we came to this earth not in 1945, but almost 70 years later, when it has a real hosts, when the earth was in someone's owned or leased. How cuold we take the land, which is legally own? For example, here is an area , where are garages. Yes, historically this is the area of Babyn Yar, but so what? Who will buy it, who will build new garages for people? This problem can be solved for a long time. That is why , we proceeded from the real conditions. We conducted an inventory of a ground and we we laid claim to free ground.
- Can somebody say today that you did not have the right to assign?
- You can say anything you want. Those who say that we took too much ground, I will reply: "Sorry, but we have already taken." And those, who say we took too little ground I will reply: "If you can – add more, we will take it with great pleasure."
- But how do you think should some ground be added?
- Based on historical dates - it is necessary to be added. The territory of the Jewish cemetery almost was not included to the Reserve. But we can not tear down the television station or a sports complex "Avanguard"?
We would like to take the building and grounds on which is the premise of the former office of the Jewish cemetery.
About this building ... Who and wherever has written, but the unions to which it belongs, do not want to hear about its transfer. So far, this problem is not solved, but we are not going to retreat, we will fight. We simply have not got the other, because no other building no one gives us.
- In fact, the situation is strange, Reserve has been beeing 3 years on paper, but in reality only a month ago was officially allocated land for it, but has not yet been allocated a building for the Directorate. Honestly, I do not understand how can this be?
The situation is not normal, I agree. We were reassigned the second time in the 3 years. At this time, as part of the administrative reform we were returned to the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. That is, within three years of our existence the first year and a half left on the transfer of the Reserve from the Ministry to the institution, and for the fourth month continuing the reverse process.
- Interesting movie.
- Simply spectacular! Only our role in it is unenviable. The first quarter of this year, we had not got funding, employees had not got their salary. I really hope that the situation will improve and we will be able to work fully.
-What are you going to do at first when they open the funding? What are the immediate and long-term plans for the Reserve? After all, until the autumn, there is very little time, and what you think you can actually get done before the 70th anniversary of the tragedy?
- The website of the Preserve is made , it is need to be financed. We would like to get done until the 29th of September , at least two important things: to repair a large monument and build Avenue of the Righteous. But I do not know if we can really do it on time. I can not say, just do not know.
-You need only to have money ,to repair the monument. But to make the Avenue of the Righteous, you need a project of all future memorial complex, and its preparation takes more than one month. How can you plan to complete the Alley to the anniversary?
- To repair the monument we need not only money. We must pass it from the communal property to the balance of the Reserve, prepare and approve design documentation of repairs. That's why I said that I would like to do it very much, but what really happens, we'll see.
- Tell me, do your technical services work: clean, keep order on the territory of the Reserve?
- Sure, but we do not have working equipment, and we have not any place to store it, so people bring their own.
- Boris Ivanovich, I think that today there is rather no Reserve than he is. There is director, secretary, assistants, someone makes a website, but for this moment, I'm sorry, I can not see real cases. What have you done for 3 years?
I understand that it is difficult for you to estimate labor costs, which we have invested into a huge amount of documentation, in the thousands of letters to various authorities, hundreds of hours of meetings. All this routine, invisible to the casual eye work have to be done, and we do it. And just because Reserve has really gained ground, and in spite of the difficult times we have, albeit in small steps, but we are going to the main goal.
Today we want to protect our territory from walking the dogs and picnics. We want to put it in the proper form, we want to start to build the first museum objects. Of course, we would like to built eventually a full-fledged museum complex, to collect and immortalize the names of those who died at the Babyn Yar. We have already started to collect material, but now the question is, where to place them — in the flats of employees?!
- Maybe you should seek support from Jewish organizations?
- We are ready to accept some help from any organization, sponsors and grantors. But where are they?
- It is known that Vadim Z. Rabinovich has rented a large part of the Babyn Yar and is going to build there on his own and collected funds Memorial Museum Babyn Yar. What is your view on that? Do you have any contacts or joint plans with Rabinovich?
- With Vadim Zinovievich we have good neighborly relations. Indeed, he rented a large plot of ground close to the Minors, where he wants to build a museum. If it all works out, it will be good. I believe that in this matter no one should have unhealthy ambitions. We all want and need to make a case of great importance. Of course, when it comes down to it, I hope that we shall take part in the discussion of the project of the museum.
- Sorry for the inconvenient question, but do you feel like a full-fledged director of the Reserve, which has the real power?
- I do not need power, I need the real rights and real helpers. Today I feel much more confident because Reserve has finally had own ground. When the issue about the location for the Memorial Museum will be resolved, I will be more satisfied. As for reliable partners among the leaders of the Jewish organizations, Ilya Mikhailovich Levitas is still the most reliable. He provides us with a real and very powerful help.
- And how do the newly established Public Council for the Promotion Preserve Babyn Yar helps you?
- I welcome any help. They created the Council - well, it's their right. I talked with Arkady Ilyich Monastirsky on the question of cooperation. It is important that promote for the development of the Reserve is in deed and not in name.
- You mentioned about the reception of Levitas and Yushchenko. As I remember, one of its consequences was the creation the Organizing Committee on preparation and holding events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy in June last year. What can you say about the Organizing Committee?
As for the fate of the Organizing Committee, the question of its creation is being addressed. Vice Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Seminozhenko V.P. had to lead the Organizing Committee, but he was removed from his post in a week. No head - no committee. After some time, the committee Tolstouhov A.P. agreed to lead the Committee, but he was fired too. Recently Prime Minister Mykola Azarov agreed to lead the Organizing Committee, thank him for that, and now we are really looking forward to some real changes. Of course, he has to do a lot of things, but he always finds time for this work.
- You want that the Organizing Committee to develop a clear plan of action?
- This is its main task – clearly write that needs to be done, at what time and by whom.
- Do you have any suggestions to the committee?
- I would like to see, that in all schools of our country was conducted lesson which was dedicated to the tragedy of of Babyn Yar , I would like to see that pupils and students of Kyiv and region came to Babyn Yar during the commemorative ceremonies; I would like to see that on national television showed a film about the tragedy at Babyn Yar by N.Zaseeva-Rudenko.
From our side we are planning the publication of historical materials, exhibitions and we have already conducted work in this direction, From day to day our site will work.
- Are you working in collaboration with someone or by yourself?
- Very closely we are working with the Foundation "Remembrance of Babyn Yar", which was created at the Jewish Council of Ukraine, and also with the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, with the Museum of the History of Kyiv, with the Ukrainian State Archives. When we were preparing an exhibition , which was devoted to the Righteous of the World, we collaborated with I.M. Levitas. As for the lecturing work in schools, colleges, it requires coordination with the Ministry of Education. We will certainly do the job, and we already have lecturers.
- Tell me, are you already working with international organizations?
- We are gradually improving this work. Speaking, for example, about the Museum of Yad Vashem, I'd like to have been there, look,learn. And it is not the desire to travel, but really - need.
We are in correspondence with the museum, with deputies of Kneset, talk about our plans, we want people know about us.
- Boris Ivanovich, taking the opportunity, what would you like to say, to whom would you like to apply over Jewish newspaper?
- I think that nothing unites people like a common problem. Babyn Yar - is our common misfortune, human tragedy, and all of us must connect the memory about this tragedy. It is time, in fact, to unite together and move from talk to action. We do not really have much time until the autumn.
A. Kanevsky conducted the interview.