VANYA

During my time in college, I traveled with a group of fellow students to the Republic of Moldova, a beautiful land of rolling hills and vineyards, located between Romania and Ukraine. While in Moldova – formerly Moldavia while a part of the USSR – we spent time with the Moiseyev family: Vasily, Joanna, and their son Volodia. I was powerfully moved by this humble Moldovan peasant family and feel responsible to share with you their story. The images above are a series of acrylic paintings, illustrating the last two years of the life of Vanya Moiseyev, from 1970 to 1972. The information has been gathered from his family and the details recorded by Myrna Grant in her book entitled Vanya.

One of the members of our group, Iurie Cuciuc, grew up in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova, where his family still resides. Iurie’s grandfather, Iosif Kiril Cuciuc (15 November 1927 – 19 January 2001) held the position of Director of the Investigation Department of the Moldavian SSR during the time of Vanya Moiseyev’s death. As news about Vanya’s alleged murder spread throughout the world, USA President Jimmy Carter became aware of the story and demanded that General Secretary of the USSR, Leonid Brezhnev, conduct an investigation into the case. In order to appease President Carter and the rest of the world, and to hide any evidence of injustice within the Soviet Union, Brezhnev appointed Iosif Cuciuc to conduct the investigation.

Ivan “Vanya” Vasilievich Moiseyev, the son of Vasily and Joanna Moiseyev, was a soldier in the Soviet Red Army from November of 1970 to July of 1972. His two-year term was cut short, when, at the age of 20, according to Soviet authorities, Vanya drowned in the Black Sea, off the shore of Cape Borzovka, near Kerch, Ukraine. Vanya was in fact drowned in the Black Sea, but not accidentally. In very shallow water, Vanya was forcibly submerged under water, after having been tortured to the point of death. The young soldier was severely beaten, burned, and stabbed in the heart 6 times by the KGB. Even after the torture and drowning, Vanya still showed signs of life and was taken away in an ambulance, only to be stopped by an unknown car and injected with an unknown substance. After this, Vanya finally passed away. His body was shipped home to his parents in a sealed casket, which, after being opened, revealed the evidence of Vanya’s torture. His crime: an unbreakable refusal to give up his faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ.

While home on leave only months before his death, Vanya was tape recorded as he recounted all the events, miracles, and tortures he had experienced while in the army. The astounding content of this tape can be read from pages 154 to 167 in the book Vanya. It was this specific tape that Iosif Cuciuc was most concerned about and attempted to obtain from Vanya’s family and church. But the church was not cooperative. In fact, their steadfast resistance to his efforts, despite his authority to send them to prison, disturbed Cuciuc. On returning home one day, Iosif surprisingly opened up to his son Yura about this troubling case, even sharing with him the top-secret KGB files which detailed the miraculous events of Vanya’s time of service in the Red Army. Vanya was no ordinary soldier and Yura discovered that as well as he read the long, three-volume report. His story left a permanent imprint on Yura’s mind and ended up making a profound impact on the entire Cuciuc family. The above paintings illustrate that story.

If you would like further information, I encourage you to read Vanya by Myrna Grant.