«Jewish Observer»
December 2001
5762 Tevet

Main page To print

Every year, writing about the October demonstrations of the leftist parties, I meet Arkady Semenovich Trilessky - the man whose face is familiar to me through the work at "Khesed Avot".

During one of our meetings I tried to find out what brings him annually to mark the revolution anniversaries in our times.

- Arkady Semenovich, please, tell me your biography in brief.

- My biography is very simple. This is the biography of a man who was born before the war and learned all the "charms" of the post-war period as well - I mean the famine of 1947. In general, my childhood was cheerless. I left school in 1954. After the 8th form I tried t enter a military aviation school. Due to different reasons, obviously, because of paragraph 5, they simply didn't want to take me. Then I finished 10 classes and entered the topographical technical college. I left it in 1958 and became a topographer. I began travelling about the whole Union - from Kiev to Magadan. In 1968 I graduated from the construction institute and since then I have been busy with the construction. Since 1958 I was witnessing the country rising. We ourselves helped it rise - I mean our generation. Kiev became a beautiful European city. We participated in the construction of all city-housing areas, which were approximately 12.

- How did perestroika and the USSR collapse influence on your life?

- In 1991 we were simply betrayed! I mean Gorbachev and the local bourgeois elite, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Kravchuk and alike. I think it a shame for the Ukrainian people. I voted against the "independence" at the referendum and, as I see it now, was right.

- In other worlds, you didn't believe in perestroika and glasnost from the very beginning, did you?

- What democratization and glasnost can we talk about? Did we lack anything?

- Well, the students were on strike at the Maidan...

- The students were protesting on the Maidan because they were paid 50 dollars per person a day! Everything had been planned and prepared. Yes, we were not rich, but we felt ourselves human beings! Nowadays we are turned into the recluses, if they take away our flats the only thing left will be to go hanged.

- You do not believe in the perspectives of the independent Ukraine development?

- No, there can't be any independent Ukraine! They needed the independence to rob the wealth created by the people. Prior to 1991 Ukraine had the annual budget of 180 billion rubles! One dollar cost 72 kopecks. So calculate - the budget amounted up to 250 billion dollars.

- But the USSR economy was falling down, so Gorbachev decided on the unprecedented measures.

- These are just words! Gorbachev is a protege of the American secret service. I have no doubt if another person had been him the history would have gone otherwise! Though everybody curses Stalin today but if it had not been for him the Soviet Union would not have existed at all! The cruelty was necessary!

- Do you consider the repressions of millions of people justified?

- The repressions did take place, but not on the scale this is presented nowadays. I remember the times when it was possible to go out at 3 - 4 a.m. in Kiev, and nobody robbed or killed anybody in the street. All ground floors then had no window gratings whereas at present, under our democracy, there are gratings even on the second floors! Yes, there were crooks, but they were behind the bars!

- Arkady Semenovich, you said you had not been able to enter the aviation school due to paragraph 5. Didn't it trouble you?

- It troubled me but I survived that. If I had been more persistent I would have been lucky. I was refused at the lower level, so I had to go further, to refer to the military district head. There were rumors that the Jews were not admitted to the higher educational institutions, many of the Jews left, but I, an ordinary Jew, entered two institutes at once. I was taking the day-time studies at one of them and the evening courses - at the other. It's true, I didn't try to get through into the Diplomatic Academy - I was definitely to fail there. But I, probably, could have succeeded if I had been more insistent. In general, could we, the Jews, have become worthy people without the Soviet power, me, in particular? What could I have become and where could I have found myself if the Germans had reached the Urals?

- What party are you going to support at the coming election?

- I like Vitrenko's program. She is an intelligent economist. Belarus lives in line with such program having achieved real results. The salary there equals 100 dollars, the apartment rent is 20 - 30 hryvnas in our money, the city transport costs 15 kopecks whereas pensioners pay only 9 kopecks. This is a result of the state-controlled economy.

- Are there any, in your opinion, positive changes after the USSR collapse, for instance, the opportunity for the Jews to learn their language and traditions?

- Yes, here, of course, there are some. But we lived in the international society. And, in my opinion, the national renaissance ends up, sooner or later, with the "Beilis' case". We didn't feel it. Were there any "Beilis cases" under the Soviet power? And how many of them occurred under the tsarist regime?

- What about the "doctors' case"?

- This case was invented to create a precedent for the persecution of Jews. One woman wrote denunciation about the doctors-Jews killing the country's leaders. But it can't be compared with the "Beilis case" as nobody finally suffered.

- How do you assess the activity of the Kheseds?

- The Khesed is a necessary organization that helps us to survive. God bless, it will exist for many years to come. We are much grateful to those people who try to take care of us. Naturally, we survived the war without the Kheseds, but the life is easier with them.

- Are there any Jews among your acquaintances who are ideologically close to you?

- Yes, there are. On the whole, 90 per cent of my generation share my point of view.

- How do you see Ukraine's future?

- This state has no future. This regime will lead the country to the revolution and the latter is not far away. Sooner or later but the people will rise!

Interviewed by Edward Dox

«Jewish Observer» - obozrevatel@jewukr.org
© 2001 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org