21 May is the anniversary of the bearing of Taras Shevchenko’s ashes from St. Petersburg to the Ukraine. For many years now the Ukrainian public has commemorated this day by laying wreaths at the Shevchenko memorial in Kiev, and by singing and dancing round the statue [see CCE 8.12, item 20, for the 1969 celebrations]. In recent years, the authorities have attempted to give the entire day’s proceedings in the Shevchenko Park an official character: a platform has been erected around the memorial, teams of performers sent, and concerts organized.
However, along with the official enterprises there have usually nonetheless been some “amateur” folk festivities. This year the authorities resolved to put a stop to any attempts to honour the poet’s memory. The Shevchenko Park was surrounded by cordons of police, druzhinniki and “plain-clothes men”. The police chased away people who stopped on the streets bordering the park. Without any explanation, policemen, druzhinniki and “plain-clothes men” seized persons trying to approach the Shevchenko memorial, those trying to sing Ukrainian songs, and even those dressed in Ukrainian embroidered shirts or wearing Shevchenko badges on their chests.
Over fifty people were detained. Some of them were sentenced next day to fifteen days’ imprisonment for “resistance to to authority”.