OLD LYME – “I said, ‘There’s no way they’re going to invade Ukraine – impossible – and the morning they invaded, it was just stunning,” says Dick Shriver who knows Ukraine well.
The 88-year-old and his wife, Barbara, lived there for eight years in the nineties, setting up not-for-profit merchant banks, teaching Ukrainians how to run small businesses.
“It certainly was an adventure, we had a purpose,” says Dick.
“They were so welcoming – a Ukrainian table is full of wonderful foods and everything,” says Barbara, who, while there, was a big supporter of the arts.
She has a collection including a bright, happy piece…painted after the fall of the USSR, a time of independence. Other pieces, like a haunting one of a woman holding a man, show oppression.
“This was earlier, during the dark times,” she explains.
She worries that the destruction of cities means the loss of art. She can’t get in touch with a painter whose studio is in Kyiv.
“I’m afraid some of his art, the studio might be destroyed,” she says.
The Shrivers also possess poignant political cartoons by Pulitzer Prize winner, Matt Davies.
One shows Tarav Schevchenko, an artist and poet bought out of serfdom, who lived in the 1850s.
“He’s a hero in Ukraine,” says Dick, pointing to a quote, “I am suffering and tortured but not humiliated.”
Indicative of what is going on today.
The Shrivers say the Ukrainians are people who have a history of trying to move beyond corruption and government problems to build up…but face obstacles that stop progress.
Dick – who also worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during Gerald Ford’s presidency – blames one person, Vladimir Putin.
“He’s pure evil,” says Dick. “This is brutality beyond our comprehension – it’s not beyond their comprehension, it’s beyond our comprehension.”
Based on his experience, Shriver says anything can happen.
“Who knows, this could end tomorrow with an agreement between the two parties or this could go on for 20 years,” he says.
The couple is raising funds to send aid to Ukraine.
People can donate tax-deductible funds to be sent to Ukraine for the purpose of purchasing humanitarian supplies for refugees and wounded Ukrainians.
Make checks payable to CIME, 1 Pilgrim Landing, Old Lyme CT 06371.