A Ukrainian war crimes researcher and novelist has died from injuries sustained in last Tuesday’s missile attack in the city of Kramatorsk, located in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.
Victoria Amelina, 37, had been dining at the popular Ria Pizza restaurant with a delegation of Colombian writers and journalists when it was struck by a Russian missile that killed 12 people, including four children, and wounding dozens.
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She was rushed to Mechnikov Hospital in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, located in the centre of the country, but succumbed to her injuries on Saturday, making her the 13th fatality in the attack. Amelina is also the latest cultural figure killed in the full-fledged war launched on Ukraine launched by Russia in February 2022.
PEN, a nonprofit organisation that aims to defend and celebrate free expression through literature, announced her death via a statement on Facebook.
“It is with great pain that we inform you that the heart of the writer Victoria Amelina stopped beating on 1 July,” the statement read. “In the last days of Victoria’s life, her family and friends were by her side.”
Writer Victoria Amelina was injured in Russian attack on Kramatorsk this week. Her poem reflects how everyone here feels.
An air raid alert goes off across my land
It's as if they're here again to execute us
But shoot just one
It's usually someone random
Today it isn't… pic.twitter.com/44bTXnTG1W
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) July 2, 2023
Documenting war crimes
Born in the western city of Lviv, Amelina began her career in IT before becoming a full-time writer and poet in 2015.
She would quickly become one of the country’s most celebrated young writers. Her second novel Dom’s Dream Kingdom, or Dim dlya Doma, published in 2017, was shortlisted for several national and international awards, including the European Union Prize for Literature.
Her first non-fiction book in English, War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War, is due to be published.
When Russia launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Amelina began documenting war crimes. She also worked with children near the front line.
Her work had brought her all over eastern, southern and northern parts of Ukraine during the war, in particular in the village of Kapytolivka near Izyum in the northeast of the country.
Last year she unearthed the diary of Volodymyr Vakulenko, an editor, journalist and translator who had authored 13 books and who was abducted and killed by Russian troops in the city of Izyum soon after the invasion.
A growing list of cultural figures killed during the war
Vakulenko and Amelina are not the only cultural figures to have died since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
In the Kyiv suburb, Bucha, Oleksandr Kysliuk, a well-known translator from ancient Greek and Latin, was reportedly shot dead in his house during Russia’s attempt to take over the capital.
In Kherson, located in southern Ukraine, Yuri Kerpatenko, the chief director of the Mykola Kulish Kherson Musical and Drama Theatre, was executed whilst the city was under occupation after he refused to take part in a concert.
Former ballet dancer and dance teacher Oleksandr Shapoval was killed by heavy shelling during a battle in September 2022 near Maiorske in the Donetsk region.
Pasha Lee, an actor and TV presenter, was killed in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin when the area came under heavy artillery bombardment.