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The Last Supper: The Literary World Mourns Victoria Amelina

PEN America and the International Publishers Association (IPA) are among international bodies that have issued statements mourning the death of Ukraine author Victoria Amelina, a PEN-Ukraine member, who was struck by a Russian missile and died from severe injuries on 1 July in a hospital.

The missile hit Kramatorsk, where Amelina, 37, was having dinner at a restaurant with a group of Colombian writers, journalists, and activists.  Polina Sadovskaya, Eurasia director at PEN America, said: “Victoria Amelina was a celebrated Ukrainian author who turned her distinct and powerful voice to investigate and expose war crimes after the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. She brought a literary sensibility to her work and her elegant prose described, with forensic precision, the devastating impact of these human rights violations on the lives of Ukrainians.

“Her contribution to this effort underscored her insistence that Russia be held to account for its illegal invasion, which has brutally cut short the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people. We extend our deepest sympathies to her son, her family and friends and her colleagues at PEN Ukraine.”

Since 2022, Amelina has been collaborating with Ukrainian teams to document Russian war crimes and advocate for accountability for the crimes committed by the Russian Federation and its troops in Ukraine. She also joined a non-fiction project, War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War.

Amelina had attended the 2023 IPA Prix Voltaire ceremony to receive the IPA Prix Voltaire Special Award on behalf of children’s author and poet, Volodymyr Vakulenko. She had then brought the Special Award from Norway to Vakulenko’s parents in Kapytolivka.

In her speech at the Prix Voltaire ceremony at the World Expression Forum in Lillehammer, Norway, Victoria said: ‘I am a Ukrainian writer speaking on behalf of my colleague Volodymyr Vakulenko who, unlike me, didn’t survive another attempt of the Russian Empire to erase Ukrainian identity. The Ukrainian literary community is grateful for the award. This award is unique, meaningful, and moving to us, partly because no one out of hundreds of other Ukrainian writers who, like Vakulenko, were murdered throughout Ukrainian history ever received such an international award posthumously. I am sure that Volodymyr Vakulenko would like to dedicate this award to them too.”

 

Gvantsa Jobava, IPA Vice President said: “I met Victoria Amelina, the Ukrainian writer and activist, in Norway.  We spent a very nice evening together, we talked about everything, about Georgia and Ukraine, about war, victory and peace, about life and death, about her activism during the war. We became friends, she became very dear to me. We met each other again recently in Kyiv, at the Book Arsenal festival. I was so happy to meet her again, she was everywhere, taking part in different events and panel discussions.  She cared about everything not only around Ukraine, but about Georgia as well. Then she hugged me and left. 

“During all this days we were hoping that miracle will happen, but it didn’t.  Now I realized that by going to Ukraine I was given a chance to hug this talented, brave, dear woman one last time. My heart is totally broken.”

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