Yesterday, July 4, Kyiv bade farewell to Victoria Amelina, an eminent writer and public figure who served as a true ambassador of Ukrainian culture abroad.
On June 1, Victoria Amelina tragically passed away due to injuries sustained during the June 27 targeted missile strike by the Russian forces on Ria Lounge, a pizzeria in Kramatorsk.
According to surveys conducted by PEN Club and Truth Hounds, it was determined that the Russians had used an Iskander missile, guided by a ground-based targeting system, the attack resulting in the loss of at least 13 civilian lives, with an additional 60 individuals sustaining injuries.
Victoria's untimely death is an irretrievable loss, not only for Ukrainian literature but also for the entire cultural community. She was an incredibly empathetic and talented individual who consciously chose to be Ukrainian, despite having the opportunity to reside, study, and obtain citizenship in Canada. Victoria returned to Ukraine and embarked on a brilliant career in the IT sector while, at the same time, nurturing her literary talent.
Her first book, “Sindrom Listopadu, abo Homo Compatiens,” explored the events of the Revolution of Dignity through the lens of a hyper-empathetic individual and received high praise from literary critics.
Her subsequent books for both children and adults were similarly acclaimed by professionals and readers alike. Victoria received accolades such as the “LitAkcent of the Year 2014,” “LitAkcent of the Year 2017,” the UNESCO City of Literature Award, the European Literary Prize, and the Joseph Conrad-Kożenevsky Award for 2021. Her works have been translated into English, Spanish, Czech, Polish, German, and Dutch.
Victoria's literary pursuits were complemented by her patronage of socio-cultural activism. She sponsored various cultural projects and often provided financial assistance to her colleagues on the cultural front.
In 2021, Victoria established the New York Literary Festival in the town of New York near Bakhmut. From 2022, Amelina actively engaged in the investigation of Russian war crimes against Ukrainians, joining the human rights organization Truth Hounds. She undertook an examination of the circumstances surrounding the murder of children's writer Volodymyr Vakulenko from Izium, while vigorously advocating for Ukraine's position on international platforms. During this time, she also began writing a documentary book titled “War and Justice: Looking at Women, Looking at War.”
On June 27, 2023, Victoria's life was tragically cut short during another mission to investigate crimes against Ukraine and Ukrainians, which she conducted alongside colleagues from Colombia. Despite the efforts of the best paramedics and surgeons, they were unable to save the life of this remarkable individual—someone who was gentle, empathetic, and yet remarkably strong.
Those of us who had the honor and pleasure of knowing her strive not only to memorialize her actions but also to establish a special international tribunal for all perpetrators of war crimes against Ukraine; a cause for which Victoria herself ardently strived.
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