On that historic day, I was standing against the wall in the large auditorium located in parliament’s basement, listening to Soviet Ukraine’s Communist leaders argue whether they should declare independence from the Soviet Union. Most were still reeling from the coup in Moscow several days before and were mulling over Ukraine’s choices. The debate was long and spurious, until a man, who I believe was a police chief from Poltava, boldly said:
“Tovaryshi, I have always been for the Soviet Union and for a strong Soviet Union. But the union now being proposed to us is one in which Ukraine will enter with its head bowed down. Therefore, tovaryshi, we must vote for independence!”
The auditorium burst into wild applause and it was at that moment that my pen, a Soviet-made product purchased in a Kyiv store, gave out. Feeling a tap on my shoulder, I turned to find someone handing me a black Pentel pen. The man was a high-ranking Communist official whose name escapes me now.