“They became known as the Heavenly Sotnia, people who died for a free Ukraine. The oldest was 83 and the youngest 17 years old. Three women, mothers who had given birth to and raised their children, who cherished their grandchildren, were killed by the uniformed murderers’ clubs and bullets… Children were left without parents, pregnant wives without husbands… elderly parents, brothers, sisters, colleagues. Diploma papers, doctorates, homes were left unfinished, orchards untended, sweethearts with broken hearts, stars in the sky uncounted, with mothers’ bitter tears raining down on this eternal big world…”
These lines are from the foreword to the requiem book The Heavenly Sotnia launched during the Mourning Viche Assembly on the Maidan (March 30, 2014). Forty days ago people were shot there by Berkut thugs. Maidan, Instytutska, Khreshchatyk, and Hrushevsky streets were aflame with red carnations brought by people who came to pay tribute to the victims of the criminal regime.
The book was prepared by the “Khochu zhyty” (I Want to Live) Social Projects Center, with information support provided by Den/The Day. “The main task for us was to honor the memory of people who died and let us live by a new standard. We have to formulate a new moral standard for ourselves; we have to be honest, grateful to the Lord, and we must love Ukraine,” says the compiler, Roman Savchak. The book contains photos of the victims and short biographies. This isn’t the final version because, regrettably, the ranks of the Heavenly Sotnia keep growing. Savchak says the text will be revised and copies sent to all Ukrainian libraries. He expressed special gratitude to Den, adding that the newspaper is a strategic friend and partner.
The Maidan Library will see to it that copies and other books are sent to the home villages and towns of the Heavenly Sotnia’s heroes. Last Saturday the library’s volunteers held a rally in memory of the fallen activists. In four hours some 500 books were collected. Each would be stamped “Maidan Library” and parcels would be mailed or delivered by volunteers.
This project was advertised last Monday and Kyiv residents had been bringing books since then. According to Vladyslava Osmak, library volunteer and local history expert, some 11,000 books had been collected by Saturday, and the project continues, so one can bring books during the week: “All of us volunteers discussed it and decided that it was very ethical to collect books for the hometowns and villages of the Heavenly Sotnia’s heroes; that since the Maidan Library is one of its symbols, we should express our solidarity that way.”
Oleksandr and Oksana, a married couple from Kyiv, brought some 100 books, all modern literary works. “I’m very fond of modern writers, so I thought I should familiarize others with them,” says Oksana. The couple plans to bring another batch because they just couldn’t deliver all of them the first time.
This project is supported by some publishing companies and authors. Tetiana Kryzhanivska, widow of the poet, Ivan Kozachenko, brought copies of his collection of verse Obitovana (Promised): “I’m glad that my husband’s books will be at the city library of Ivano-Frankivsk; he was born in the regional town of Kalush. Among those who died on the Maidan was Ivan’s fellow countryman Ihor Dmytriv. We must always remember the Heavenly Sotnia, not just on special dates.”