11:52 Jun. 11, 2016
University was relocated to west-central city of Vinnytsia after Russian-backed separatists took control of Donetsk
The Donetsk National university, which currently operates in Vinnytsia, has been named after a Ukrainian poet and Soviet dissident Vasyl Stus. The decision was taken by the university's committee on Friday, June 10. The new name was approved by 75 votes out of 105.
The change occured after long discussions on the matter, started in Donetsk back in 2008. But the idea of associating the university with the poet was slammed by some institution's members who later joined the separatists during the insurgencies in the city, according to a university's graduate and a current RFE/RL journalist Olexiy Matsuka.
Vasyl Stus was born in the Vinnytsia region in 1938, and a year later his family moved to the city of Stalino (later renamed to Donetsk). After the school, he entered the Donetsk National University, studied at the History, Language and Literature Faculty.
He was persecuted by the Soviet leaders for his poems and books, in which he criticized the Communist government and ideology. In 1972 he was arrested for "anti-Soviet propaganda and activities" and convicted to spend 5 years in a forced labour camp.
After serving his sentence, in 1979 he joined the Ukranian Helsinki group, which monitored the human rights violations in the Soviet Union. A year later he was arrested again along with the other members of the organisation, and sentenced to another 10 years in a forced labour camp for political prisoners in Russia.
Stus died in 1985 after he declared a hunger strike. A memorial to the poet was installed at the Donetsk National University, where he studied, in 2001. After the separatists took control of the city, they demolished it.