Serhiy Maidukov, a Ukrainian illustrator and artist, has refused to appear in the German city of Osnabruck, known as the city peace, to accept an award for his works. He cited travel restrictions making it difficult to leave his war-torn country as well as the presence of another laureate, from Russia, as motives behind his decision. 

The 42-year-old Kyivite told the award committee that for personal reasons, having to take care of his psychic condition, “I avoid hard feelings these times, I have enough of a Russian presence in my life so far,” the Osnabruck center reported on its website.

He was supposed to be awarded a “special prize” there together with Russian writer Lyudmila Yevgenyevna Ulitskaya, who is being honored with the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, named after the anti-war author of the novel All Quiet on the Western Front.

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Awarded this year in June, the prize is meant to promote “hope and reconciliation.”

Ukrainian literary publication Chytomo cited Maidukov as saying that he will donate the €5,000 cash prize to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the purchase of a vehicle.

When messaged by Kyiv Post, Maidukov declined to give an interview, wishing that “this information wave [would] go away as soon as possible… It is emotionally hard for me – too much on the [worldwide] web.”

His illustrations since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker magazine, The Guardian and Financial Times, among other media outlets.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest address to the nation was mostly a repetition of previous rhetoric and did not address Transnistria’s appeal for Moscow’s protection.

“He captured the first scenes of the [Russian] war right after the invasion began: ‘My anxiety levels were so high, I had to calm down somehow, and I was alone. So I took my iPad and did what I always do: draw,’” the award website quotes him from a recent interview.

It was not the first time that a Ukrainian has rejected an international award.

Oksana Romaniuk, director of the Kyiv-based Institute for Mass Information, on Dec. 4 declined to accept the Johan Phillip International Award for Freedom of Speech and the Press.

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The award ceremony took place in Germany and where a joint award winner, Ekho Moskvy chief editor Aleksei Venediktov, was also a prize winner .

Romaniuk said she couldn’t “imagine” herself “standing on the same stage and sharing an award with Venediktov… a Kremlin-authorized liberal, a political scientist who has repeatedly pushed Kremlin propaganda, publicly calling Putin his “only boss.”

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