The death of Vasyl Stus (1938-1985)

Vesti iz SSSR, 1985 (17-1, 15 September)

On 4 September 1985, political prisoner Vasyl STUS died in special-regime camp Perm 389/36-1.

Vasyl Stus (b. 8 January 1938) was an outstanding Ukrainian poet and journalist. First arrested in January 1972 for publishing a poetry collection abroad and writing a number of articles for samizdat, he was sentenced to five years in the camps and three years exile. He served his term of imprisonment in Mordovia [Volga region] and his years of exile in the Magadan Region [Soviet Far East].

After his release in August 1979 he settled in Kiev where he was placed under administrative surveillance. He worked as a foundryman. In September 1979 he joined the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. He was again arrested in May the following year, charged under Article 62, part 2 of the UkSSR Criminal Code (equivalent of 70.2 of the RSFSR Criminal Code) and sentenced in October 1980 to ten years in a special-regime camp and five years’ exile.

Vasyl Stus, 1938-1985

Stus had heart disease, suffered from a stomach ulcer and general physical exhaustion. During the last years of his life, he was frequently deprived of family visits. In spring 1985 Stus was brought to Kiev for “re-education”, and an attempt was made to force him to “recant”. The verse he wrote in the camp was constantly confiscated.

Not long before his death, Stus asked that others provide moral support to Yelena Yakovlevna, his elderly mother, by writing letters to her. She was living on 19, Chuvash Street, October settlement in the Donetsk Region, 390026 Ukraine.