The following is one of a series of interviews conducted by Chythomo, a project exploring writers’ contribution to the war effort in Ukraine.
Ukraine: PEN International mourns the killing of writer and PEN Ukraine member Victoria Amelina
03 July 2023 – PEN International joins PEN Ukraine in mourning the killing of writer, PEN Ukraine member and human rights defender Victoria Amelina, following a horrific Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine on 27 June 2023. Amelina was seriously injured and rushed to hospital in Dnipro. She passed away on 1 July 2023. She was 37 years old.
In a statement published on 2 July 2023, PEN Ukraine said:
‘With our greatest pain, we inform you that Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina passed away on 1 July in Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro. Her death was caused by injuries incompatible with life, which she suffered from during the Russian missile shelling of a restaurant in Kramatorsk on 27 June 2023. We are announcing this news now when all Victoria’s family members have learned about it and with their consent (…). Victoria Amelina, Ukrainian writer and member of PEN Ukraine, who has been documenting Russian war crimes with the human rights initiative Truth Hounds, was in Kramatorsk with a delegation of Colombian writers and journalists. As they were having dinner at the Ria Lounge restaurant downtown, Russians launched a missile attack on this restaurant. Victoria was severely injured. Doctors and paramedics in Kramatorsk and Dnipro did everything they could to save her life, but the injuries were fatal and incompatible with life. In the last days of Victoria’s life, her closest people and friends were with her (…). For us, Victoria’s friends, and colleagues, it is very important the cultural initiatives set up by her, could last. Very soon we will share with you information about the ways you can support her life’s work.’
Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director of PEN International, said:
‘We are devasted by the killing of our friend and PEN member Victoria Amelina. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones during these terrible times. Victoria’s strength, selflessness, and determination in the face of adversity have been an inspiration to us all. As we grieve her loss, her words, writings, and voice will forever resonate with us. Today is a tragic day for the PEN community, who stands with everyone at PEN Ukraine. Those responsible for her killing must be brought to justice.’
Born in 1986, Victoria Amelina was a prize-winning writer and poet, and founder of the New York Literature Festival in the Donetsk region, Eastern Ukraine. Since the Russian Federation’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Amelina had been documenting war crimes with the human rights initiative Truth Hounds, and notably uncovered the war diary of Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vakulenko, who was abducted by Russian forces on 24 March 2022. On 28 November 2022, after the Ukrainian army recaptured Izium from Russian forces, DNA analysis confirmed that the body found in grave N.319 in the woods of Izium was that of Vakulenko. Amelina had recently taken part in the first presentation of his war diary at the Book Arsenal literary festival in Kyiv on 23 June 2023.
PEN International has repeatedly called on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally end its devastating war against Ukraine, including through a Resolution adopted at PEN International’s 88th annual Congressin September 2022, a statement marking a year of war crimes and resolve in Ukraine, and a Declaration of PEN International’s Writers for Peace Committee issued in May 2023.
Full statement available here: https://www.pen-international.org/news/pen-international-mourns-the-killing-of-victoria-amelina
(Statement from PEN International)
Members and Board members of Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann are appalled and devastated by the news that our dear friend, award-winning writer and war crimes researcher Victoria Amelina, has been injured in a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk. We wish, as hard as we have ever wished for anything, that Victoria will have a swift recovery. Here is a statement from PEN International:
29 June – PEN International joins PEN Ukraine in condemning the horrific Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine on 27 June 2023. Twelve people had been killed and more than 60 wounded at the time of writing, including writer, PEN Ukraine member and human rights defender Victoria Amelina, who remains in hospital.
Victoria was in Kramatorsk with Colombian writer Héctor Abad Faciolince, journalist Catalina Gómez Ángel and politician Sergio Jaramillo at the time of the attack. The Colombian delegates sustained minor injuries… more on the PEN International website.
“Words and Bullets” is an online media project launched by the Ukrainian cultural and publishing media Chytomo and PEN Ukraine with support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). This is a series of interviews with writers and journalists who became soldiers or volunteers following the Russian invasion.
The authors and journalists featured in this project all see their lives as divided into a “before and after”. The explosions that rocked Ukrainian cities on Feb. 24 forever changed their personal trajectories. Some left their homes and rushed to save children or elderly parents, others joined the volunteer movement that helps supply the Ukrainian army, and many joined the Ukrainian territorial defense forces or the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The project started in June 2022, more than ten interviews with authors and journalists who became soldiers or volunteers due to the war will be published in Chytomo.
Some interviews are already available in English:
PEN Ukraine together with PEN Belarus, Polish PEN Club and Open Culture Foundation is organizing a public fundraiser to support the creative community of Ukraine.
The funds will go to help Ukrainian writers, journalists, scholars, translators, and artists who have found themselves under threat as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine.
The funds will be used to alleviate the urgent needs of Ukrainian creatives, whose lives are now in direct danger:
– urgent evacuation and resettlement in the cities of Western Ukraine,
– urgent evacuation and resettlement in safe countries.
Culture is one of the chief bastions of Ukrainian freedom and we must ensure that members of the Ukrainian cultural community can continue to speak out loudly and without hindrance.
Support now: https://penbelarus.org/en/2022…