‘And when Bolsheviks were driving from Staryi Sambir to collect taxes… They travelled from one village to another, that’s how it was. Those were the NKVD and their henchmen from the Communist Party who were driving. And we made an ambush for them between villages Strilbychi and Bilychi. There’s Svenchir Mountain. So there was the company ‘Bilya’ on that mountain. And we guarded from the side of the village in order not to let them go farther if someone survives, and also from the river side. The Yablonka River flew nearby. There we stood to shoot and finish them. I remember us arriving there. And a ditch was on the opposite side of the road, made for water drainage, such a tunnel of pipes. And a Muscovite climbed there, wounded. So that time we killed twenty-seven people. The only one we let go was a secretary of the Communist Party’s district committee, we let him drive away. Well, he was from Eastern Ukraine, it’s possible that…. But it was said that he was not a bad man. We let him go.’
Bohdan Ryapych (1927–2012)
Bohdan Ryapych was born on December 14th, 1927, in the village of Voloshyno, Lviv province (now Staryi Sambir district, Lviv region). He graduated from 7-grade school during the German occupation. Later he joined the Youth network of the OUN and got the pseudonym ‘Chayka’. In 1945 Bohdan was detained while he was hiding in a kryivka (a bunker, underground shelter). After his arrest he stayed in the Sambir prison and in the Drohobych prison. The court acquitted the defendant. In 1949 Bohdan was detained for the second time during an NKVD raid. During the investigation he stayed in the Drohobych prison. He was sentenced to 10 years of camps. After the court he was transported to Transit Prison # 25 in Lviv, from which he was convoyed to the ‘Dzhezkazgan’ camp in Karaganda region, the USSR (now the town of Jezkazgan, Kazakhstan). Bohdan was discharged in 1956, and he stayed together with his family in the city of Chita, the USSR, afterwards. He worked at the ‘78th plant’. After getting married Bohdan came back to the town of Sambir, Lviv region, Ukrainian SSR, together with his wife. In Sambir he took the job at a communal-operational bureau, where he worked up to his retirement. After the declaration of independence of Ukraine he created the Sambir organization of the League of Ukrainian Political Prisoners and also a stanytsia of the UPA Brotherhood, and became its first head. Bohdan died on August 26th, 2012.
Fight between the UPA warriors and members of the NKVD, 1945
The second arrest, 1949
‘That evening I came home to change my clothes, because I had gone before. I belonged to a unit which provided support to the company of Tarasko. Actually, I was a courier. I came home to change my clothes and to rest a little. They came suddenly – and that’s all. They suspected something and there always were people who would denounce. It was a raid. And some warriors were escaping through our village. They were escaping and one was wounded. He couldn’t run farther and came back. He was escaping through our yard and threw his riffle into our well, but there wasn’t much water, so it was visible. So he took a truss of straw, you know, people used to bind such. He placed it over his shoulders and thought that they would pass him over. But the raid members caught him – and that’s all! And they took me from my hut then. They tied my hands and hanged the riffle over my shoulder and led me. People were scared, you see, they brought me to the village council. But they caught the man who had tried to escape as well. And he told that the riffle wasn’t his, that it was mine, because it was me who had thrown it. I was lucky again to be caught without any weapon. And then they sent me to Drohobych. I remember how they brought me to Sambir, tied up. And there was a KGB chief. When they brought me, ‘So what, you motherfucker, you are going to live now, but you won’t want to live.’ Do you understand his words? – ‘For you it’s not the year 1945 when you were released. Now you are going to work at the place where polar bears live.’ That’s all. They sent me to Drohobych. I stayed in Drohobych for some time, and later I was convoyed to Lviv. From Lviv I was sent as far as to Kazakh SSR, Dzezkazgan.’
Forced cannibalism in Transit Prison # 25, 1949
‘That was horrifying. You know, boys were looking at it there… They used to feed us on people. They boiled people and fed us. I remember some boys from Khyriv district, from underground, my acquaintances. He said, ‘How is it possible to eat that?!’ They found bones of human fingers, do you understand? Horrific things were going on there. But it didn’t last for long. We stayed there for two months – and they sent us to Dzhezkazgan.’