We are devastated by the news of Victoria Amelina’s death on 1 July from injuries sustained in the Russian missile strike on a restaurant in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on 27 June. We mourn the loss of an exceptional writer, a friend and colleague. The English PEN team was fortunate to work with Victoria in London during her participation in two events presented at the British Library and at the London Book Fair. Victoria discussed Ukraine’s literary legacy, her commitment to researching war crimes, the importance of international solidarity and support, and writing as resistance. We will remember her invaluable contribution to this legacy and continue to champion her work across PEN centres. Our thoughts are with her family and all at PEN Ukraine.
Philippe Sands, human rights lawyer and former President of English PEN, said:
‘The killing of Victoria Amelina, who has died of injuries suffered during last week’s Russian missile attack on a restaurant in Kramatorsk, deprives Lviv, Ukraine and the world of an outstanding writer, an individual who reflected the best of modern Ukraine – humour, tenacity and warmth, coupled with a brilliantly open spirit and a courageous soul. Just a few months ago, at the Book Festival in Lviv, her beloved home city, she captivated us on life, love, family and crimes, her work on the coming War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War. ‘They are targeting all of us’, she said in our public conversation, ‘and for me that is a genocide’. Her life was emblematic of remarkable Lviv, her death is emblematic of a merciless and terrible war, prosecuted by men who feel no compunction acting in manifest violation of the most basic precepts of humanity. Victoria Amelina is gone, but she will always be present, her values embodied in the decency she represented and the accountability she sought. Her killing is a most terrible crime – her legacy will include a renewed and unbreakable commitment to accountability for those who perpetrate such horrors, in a land she cared for with passion and brilliance.’
Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN said:
‘The devastating, heartbreaking news about the killing of Victoria Amelina has hit the PEN community very hard. Along with being a warm, compassionate and deeply caring individual, Victoria was a vital voice in both the international human rights and literary communities. We were honoured to have her with us to take part in events at the British Library and during the London Book Fair this year, at which she was a passionate advocate for the need for support and engagement with Ukraine. We are lucky that in her short life she wrote significant pieces on Ukraine, and began many initiatives of meaningful solidarity. She was courageous and determined, and we are all much poorer without her in our world.’
We join PEN International’s call on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally end its devastating war against Ukraine, including through a Resolution adopted at PEN International’s 88th annual Congress in September 2022, a statement marking a year of war crimes in Ukraine, and a Declaration of PEN International’s Writers for Peace Committee issued in May 2023.
Photo: Tetyana Teren, Kateryna Babkina, Victoria Amelina, Tetyana Filevska at the London Book Fair 2023