Celebratory Evening for Natalya Gorbanevskaya at Memorial

Vera Vasilieva, 20/06/11

Source: HRO.org

· Human Rights Defenders   · Human Rights Education  · Moscow City and Region  · Victims of the Repression

Vera Vasilieva, HRO.org: On 17 June 2011 at Memorial’s Moscow offices on Karetny Ryad, a celebratory evening was held in honour of Natalya Evgenievna Gorbanevskaya. For anyone who knows anything about the history and culture of our country this name needs no introduction. Poet, translator, one of the first pioneers of the human rights movement in the USSR, the first editor of the Chronicle of Current Events and participant in the demonstrations on Moscow’s Red Square on 25 August 1968 against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet forces…

Natalya Gorbanevskaya turned 75 on 26 May this year and the evening celebrated this date. She was honoured by her colleagues in the human rights movement, friends, readers and admirers of her many talents. Yuly Chersanovich Kim performed a selection of his songs for the guest of honour.
However, looking at Natalya Evgenievna, age seems to have no meaning, except as it relates to wisdom... An effervescent spirit, creative fecundity, the ability to react vigorously to any injustice, and lastly a remarkable charisma often only attributed to youth. These qualities are inherent in Natalya Gorbanevskaya in full measure. Incidentally, this year was the 55th anniversary of her first literary work.
The hall was filled with guests, many of whom were prominent figures, such as Federal Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, poet and radio broadcaster Natella Boltyanskaya, writer Ludmila Ulitskaya and former leader of the Yabloko political party Grigory Yavlinsky...
Master of ceremonies for the evening was chair of the International Memorial Society Arseny Roginsky.
Natalya Gorbanevskaya introduced her new books: Prose on Poetry and Poets and My Soul Cleaveth Unto the Dust. The first is a collection of articles, reviews, notes and interviews from 1970s to the present. The author quoted two articles from this book: one about two Soviet political prisoners, the poet Vasily Stus and the dissident Anatoly Marchenko, and one about Alexander Galich.

Then poems were recited. Some old classics, long loved by readers and some new ones as well.

Yuly Kim asked Natalya Evgenievna to choose a song for him to sing to her as a birthday gift. Among those he performed was one sung in the person of Leonid Ilich Brezhnev, a song he called “prophetical”:

“Get a bandura, Yura,
Confiscate it from Galich.
Forget that fool the censor...
Come on! Like in the old days, sing it.
Once more and once again,
Sing it over and over again,
Once more for Pashka,
And Natashka,
And Larisa Bogoraz the same!”

As Yuly Kim recalled, he wrote these verses early in 1968 and in August that year “Pashka (Pavel Litvinov), Natashka (Natalya Gorbanevskaya) and Larisa Bogoraz were all arrested.”

Later in the evening Arseny Roginsky formally presented Natalya Gorbanevskaya with a specially painted portrait of her. The informal celebrations then resumed and continued long after...