Award-winning Ukrainian writer dies of injuries suffered in Russian missile attack on restaurant

The PEN America rights group says award-winning Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina has died from her injuries suffered after a Russian missile attack on a popular restaurant last week

Via AP news wire
Monday 03 July 2023 11:59 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Award-winning Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina was among those killed by a deadly Russian missile attack on a popular restaurant frequented by journalists and aid workers in eastern Ukraine, PEN America said.

Amelina, 37, who had turned her attention from literature to document Russian war crimes after the invasion, died from her injuries after the June 27 strike in the city of Kramatorsk, the literature and human rights organization said Sunday in a statement.

At least 11 others were killed and 61 were wounded in the attack around dinnertime, when the restaurant was usually busy. Ukrainian authorities arrested a man a day later, accusing him of helping Russia direct the strike.

The attack and others across Ukraine that day suggested the Kremlin is not easing its bombardment of the country, despite political and military turmoil at home after a short-lived armed uprising in Russia on June 24.

PEN Ukraine announced Amelina's death after her family was informed of it. Amelina was in Kramatorsk with a delegation of Colombian writers and journalists. She had been documenting Russian war crimes with the human rights organization Truth Hounds.

“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," said Polina Sadovskaya, Eurasia director at PEN America. “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.”

Amelina was born Jan. 1, 1986, in Lviv. In 2014 she published her first novel, “The November Syndrome, or Homo Compatiens,” which was shortlisted for the Ukrainian Valeriy Shevchuk Prize.

She went on to write two award-winning children's books, “Somebody, or Waterheart” and another novel, “Storie-e-es of Eka the Excavator.” In 2017, her novel, “Dom's Dream Kingdom,” received national and international accolades — including the UNESCO City of Literature Prize and the European Union Prize for Literature.

Since the start of the invasion, Amelina devoted herself to documenting Russian war crimes in eastern Ukraine, PEN America said. In Kapytolivka near Izium, she discovered the diary of Volodymyr Vakulenko, a Ukrainian writer killed by the Russians.

She also began writing her first work of English nonfiction shortly before her death. In “War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War,” Amelina recounts stories of Ukrainian women collecting evidence of Russian war crimes. It is expected to be published soon, according to PEN Ukraine.

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