And certainly, despite prompts from many, the Academy still has no comment on the mysterious incidents surrounding the death (or murder?) of James Mace who became ill on May Day while working at the Acedemy on a Saturday…marking exam papers. He died several day later after waiting for an ambulance that never came…and a misdiagnosis.
Allow me to quote James: “…In late 1989 I began receiving letters from Soviet Ukrainian diplomats at the Soviet Embassy. At the end of Ukrainians Abroad and, after consulting pertinent US bodies and the members of my Commission, I accepted. It turned out that the real reason for the invitation was that the Communist Party of Ukraine wanted me on hand when it officially adopts a resolution recognizing the Holodomor as a deliberate and criminal act by Stalin and his associates, and orders the unsealing of relevant archives of party documents (these documents appeared some months later and were truly extraordinary), so that I could say how positive a step this was.”
In 1993 James moved to Ukraine for good. This is how he explained his decision: “It seems to me that when the very object of one’s research is in danger, one has to reassess one’s priorities. By trying to understand the damage done and what came about as a result, one can become a factor in helping to heal that damage. When the fate of a component of humanity itself, of a nation and a culture, hangs in the balance, I felt I had no other choice…
When he was admitted to hospital, it was not the state that came to his rescue but Ukrainian women — journalists and accountants from Den/The Day — as well as friends, neighbors, and his children. They came in friendly ranks to the emergency hospital and donated as much blood as necessary. James needed a lot of blood. He joked that he was at last a full-blooded Ukrainian because his veins were now full of Ukrainian, Russian, and Jewish blood. James was pronounced clinically dead and needed four operations in a row. The state did not help, although word has it that there was a Kyiv City Administration decision to allot some funds. But we will never know where those funds vanished. I had to use my own money to pay for drugs, operations, equipment, and care. Among those who helped me as much as they could were Larysa Ivshyna, Marina Zamiatina, Oleksandr Suhoniako, Yevhen Sverstiuk, Nadia Stepula, and Ivan Drach. The state stood on the sidelines. James would have survived if he had had the required period of convalescence. But the state or, to be more exact, state officials gave me the runaround when I asked them to help James pay for a holiday at a good health center. By then we had run out of money and the state was not interested in us.
He felt especially bad on May 1, 2004, well before the election campaign started and the Orange team emerged on the political scene. He had just finished editing an issue of The Day, given an exam, marked the diploma theses of his students at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and written the last article for a British publication. He and I talked at length about the scenarios of the coming election. This was tormenting him because Ukraine had become his native land. He kept asking, “What can I do? How can I help?” He agonized over our country’s problems and woes, such as poverty, the scorn heaped on the Ukrainian language of which he had an excellent command, and bureaucratic high-handedness.
…The Ukrainian state did nothing for his funeral: it could not refuse him a place at Baikove Cemetery only because hundreds, if not thousands, of letters and telegrams arrived suddenly in Ukraine from ethnic Ukrainians and prominent scholars all over the world. The funeral and post-funeral dinner were subsidized by Den/The Day and Kyiv Mohyla Academy, respectively. Incidentally, the academy has his complete library, including rare books dating to the 16th century. I literally wrested the last part of it from the US, this time with the help of the state in the person of President Viktor Yushchenko. In terms of value, it surpasses all possible and impossible immortalization projects. I must say that even though American Ukrainians acknowledged my rights as James’s heir, they were extremely reluctant to part with his books and archives on the grounds that the tape recordings of eyewitness testimonies about the Great Famine, which James had brought to Ukraine and which had been stored at the Parliamentary Library were destroyed in the literal sense of the word. Ukrainians in the US were also in the dark about the circumstances of his death.
The circumstances surrounding James’s death were typically Ukrainian. On May 1, I tried to call a doctor, but it was a public holiday and the telephones seemed to be frozen. Then, for the first time I turned to an insurance company that caters to foreigners. After all, we had been paying them a handsome monthly premium for 12 years because issuing a visa was directly linked with medical insurance. Foreigners know that this insurance is daylight robbery, but this procedure is unavoidable.
It was my fault (I bitterly regret this now) for not calling the municipal emergency medical service, where experienced professionals work albeit in unbearable conditions. The insurance company sent its medical specialists, who work on contract with it, and they made a wrong diagnosis. They said it was just a bruise on the leg. I won’t name the people or companies involved because I forgave that young doctor, who wept bitterly, kneeling in front of me. It was not his fault.
The blame lies with Ukrainian circumstances, where a company offers someone a highly-paid job through connections. This kind of company has expensive equipment and fabulous work conditions, but those who are employed there are more financial killers than professionals. Their clientele is easy to deal with because foreigners come and go, without staying too long in our country. I feel sorry for that young doctor because he will have to face up to this. When I called for a municipal ambulance the next day, it was too late. In the case of a dislodged thrombus, death comes within 24 hours. The time was lost.