In Memoriam: Nina Marchenko
Nina Marchenko was born in the Kyiv region on 7 February 1929. Her father was a well-known historian who also experienced arrest and repression.
Her only son, Valery, was born in 1947. He was arrested for the first time in June 1973. Despite a serious illness he was sentence to 6 years harsh regime labour camp and 2 years exile. From then on, Nina Marchenko devoted her life first to trying to save her son, and then to ensure that his memory endured.
It would seem that Valery Marchenko passed to his mother his deep faith in God which prevented him from breaking under the weight of Soviet repression and from giving in to save himself from certain death, given his state of health,
In May 1981, Valery returned to Kyiv. He was again subjected to persecution and was unable to find work. For sending documents abroad, including one from the Ministry of Education concerning intensification of the policy of Russification, he was again arrested on 21 October 1983. On 13 March 1984, despite his grave medical condition, he was sentenced to 10 years special regime labour camp and 5 years exile, being designated a particularly dangerous repeat offender.
Aware of the drastic deterioration in her son’s health, Nina Marchenko took appeals, applications and letters of protest to the regional medical department, to the head of the medical department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the USSR, Romanov, in Moscow. She sent telegrams to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSS, Chernenko, to the Minister of the MIA, Shchelokov, to Romanov, pleading that her son be transferred to the Leningrad I. Gaaz Prison Hospital. Ignoring all prohibitions, she sent copies of these appeals to her friends, informing the world about the torture which, on the instructions of the KGB, was being inflicted upon her son and his mother. Pope John Paul II called for his release, as did US congressmen. Radio stations reported to the world community on his condition and demanded his release.
Towards the end of October Valery Marchenko was formally released from the camps due to his state of health, however he continued to be held in the Leningrad I. Gaaz Prison Hospital, and his mother’s demand that the ruling of the medical department of the MIA USSR be followed and that her son be released was ignored. Nina Marchenko believed that her son died on 5 October 1984 (the documents claim the seventh).
Nina Marchenko buried her son in the family grave in the village of Hadne.
All her life, Nina Marchenko kept her son’s memory alive and always referred to him as her teacher. She prepared a book with letters and articles he wrote, as well as a collection of his translations and unpublished academic works.
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