We are writers, journalists, artists, human rights defenders, and those who stand in solidarity with them from around the world, including those who stay in Ukraine and made the difficult decision to leave our homes. On the one-year marking of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we write to express our collective condemnation of Russia’s multi-pronged war against the Ukrainian people and culture.
We grieve for the thousands of people killed as casualties of Russia’s campaign of violence. Russia’s war has sought to rupture Ukraine’s social fabric and culture, displacing millions of people in the destruction of cities and towns. We grieve for the deaths of writers, artists, journalists, cultural workers, and all who have cultivated Ukraine’s blooming culture and civil society sector.
In the last year, the space for free expression in Ukraine has been under attack by the Russian military’s actions. Russian soldiers have deliberately killed and kidnapped journalists and writers. Artists had to flee Ukraine in order to survive and continue their work. Russian bombardments have indiscriminately destroyed and damaged hundreds of places where Ukrainians experience culture and history, from community cultural houses to Holocaust memorial centres. There is evidence that the Mariupol Drama Theater, the 19th century Regional Youth Library in Chernihiv, and other remarkable cultural objects have been deliberately targeted. But Russia’s military actions since 24 February, 2022, represent only one prong in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
Alongside the deliberate destruction of human life and infrastructure, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the existence of Ukrainian history and culture distinct from Russia. Since 2014, Russia has illegally occupied Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk, where writers, journalists, and activists have been jailed for their expression under the administration of the Russian Federation and armed separatist groups backed by Russia. Russian authorities have banned Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar language instruction and media and excavated a world heritage site to construct a revisionist history rooted in President Putin’s denial of other cultures.
Yet, despite being under attack, journalists, writers, artists, and cultural rights defenders continue to make art, write, and contribute to Ukrainian culture. Translators and members of the free press ensure that the realities of life in Ukraine and the impact of Russia’s violence are broadcast to the world. The diary entries, essays, poems, independent reporting, and street art are central to rebuilding in Ukraine when the war is over.
We, the signatories below, stand in solidarity with Ukraine’s culture and civil society sector and support its writers, artists, journalists, and cultural workers’ efforts to create life beyond Russia’s war. We reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and call for the support of all journalists, cultural figures, and all unjustly persecuted in Ukraine for their expression.
Russia should be held accountable for its war crimes and human rights abuses. We urge the international community to support all Ukrainian efforts to investigate these crimes and ensure that the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian cultural heritage by the Russian regime is included in national accountability mechanisms as well as the international commission of inquiry for Ukraine.
We call on international governments to join us in solidarity by providing livelihood support to Ukrainian writers, artists, and journalists inside and outside the country and ensure that they can continue to create art wherever they are. Russia must be held accountable for its violations of cultural rights and human rights in Ukraine.
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ)
Safe Havens | Freedom Talks
GITINYWA A.Louis, Advocate & Legal Consultant, Senior Partner at Kigali Attorneys Chamber LLP
Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network
Tanzania Artists Rights Organization (TARO)
Dr Piotr Rypson, Chair of ICOM Poland, Curator of Jewish Historical Institute, Adjunct Professor of Polish-Japanese Academy of Computer Technology
ICOM Poland National Committee
Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Penn Museum
Christopher Merrill, Director, University of Iowa International Writing Program
Askold Melnyczuk, Arrowsmith Press
Artist Protection Fund
Russell Scott Valentino, Professor and Chair, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Culture, Indiana University
Sarah D. Phillips, Professor of Anthropology and Director, R.F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University
Gianluca Del Gobbo, AVnode network for audiovisual and performing arts
Jan Moritz Onken, Conductor & Artistic Director The Silk Road Symphony Orchestra & The Silk Road Cultural Belt
dr Dominik Kuryłek, main curator of museum of Photography in Krakow
Esther Claassen, European Cultural Foundation
John Suarez, Executive Director, Center for a Free Cuba
Octavio DelaSuaree, President, Academia de la Historia de Cuba en el Exilio
Claudia Genlui, Art Curator
Ileana Fuentes, Author, Translator, Columnist, CubaNet News, Member, PEN de Escritores Exilio Cubano
Guillermo G. Marmol, Chairman Board of Trustees, Center for a Free Cuba
Alexis Romay, Author
Carolina Barrero, Cuban human rights defender and pro-democracy activist
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Jillian C. York, Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Centrala – Centre for Central and Eastern European art and artists
Ukrainian Cultural Foundation
Dr. Katherine Schofield, Department of Music, King’s College London
Martin Bright, Editor-at-Large, Index on Censorship
Trans Europe Halles
Yanelys Nuñez Leyva, Cuban activist of the San Isidro Movement (MSI)
Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA)
Oregon Institute for Creative Research
Ahmedur Tutul Chowdhury, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Shuddhashar FreeVoice
Human Rights Movement and Film Festival “Bir Duino – Kyrgyzstan”
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Rohan Chakravarty, Cartoonist, India
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Active Vista International Human Rights Festival
ArtLords and Wartists, Afghanistan
Sofia Karim, Turbine Bagh, London
Sunitha Janamohanan, Arts Manager and Educator, Singapore/Malaysia.
Sharmila Seyyid – Writer and Activist , Sri Lanka
Katrina Stuart Santiago, writer and critic, Philippines
People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action-PAGASAph
Stéphane Segreto-Aguilar,Head of International Development of ARTCENA, Circostrada Network Coordinator