The organizing committee took advantage of the presence of the famous Russian writer and arranged a meeting with him in the club. The conversation took place at a long table lined with wine and fruit. It began with a toast of the Organizing Committee board member Vasyl Pachovskyi. He cleared his throat and said in a gravel voice:
— Dear Gentlemen, I was told to make a toast to the Red Army who liberated us, and that is that — and sat down.
There was a silence, and only Tolstoy suddenly burst into laughter and rudely poked me in the ribs.
But I myself could already see how good intentions were paving the road to hell.
When Tolstoy got already quite red, he wanted to say a word. The writers have been waiting for the moment. Before starting, Tolstoy sniffed for a while, spitefully snickered and got to look in my direction more and more angrily. Eventually, casting another look, he said, as if biting off each word:
— I know you will not agree with me ... but I do not belong to a party and do not recognize any common art!
Some smiled with satisfaction, and Tolstoy continued:
— I support this kind of art — and he slyly looked in my direction — to this kind of art ... — Then, he paused again, while the writers craned their necks out of impatience, — the kind of art that helps rebuild the world! .. To the kind of art that helps build a communist society!
And then he slumped on a chair. The applause in the hall and behind the door soared. Others sat in silence, wryly smiling. I glanced at Tolstoy. He was smiling, too, but as if he just talked to little babies, intentionally turning down to childspeak. He had this smile only when he was in a good mood.The fact that the writers responded to the last words of Tolstoy with silence, was not surprising. We were facing the representatives of the bourgeois world who found themselves on the Soviet ground against their good will. There was more honesty in their conduct than in the flashy applause from fellow Galicians. They were still thinking of Soviet literature and art, as well as most of the Soviet regime that it was just an experiment nobody knew where it all was going to.