Ukrainian human rights lawyer logs war crimes

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Ukrainian human rights lawyer logs war crimes

Oleksandra Matviichuk, 38, is a human rights lawyer who lives in Kyiv with her husband and two cats. She is head of the Center for Civil Liberties and has been documenting war crimes since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, work that has increased since Vladimir Putin’s troops entered the country on Feb. 24.

This Sunday, I had planned to gather with my colleagues in a restaurant to discuss a book which we were jointly reading.

Now, I’m with no friends here. I’m wearing the same clothes for several days. No restaurants are open.

It’s a good illustration of how fragile is the normal world.

 I couldn’t stay in my home because it’s too dangerous. I moved to another part of Kyiv.

I regularly go to bomb shelters. Frankly speaking, I’m tired to go there for each alarm. They go off rather often, especially at night. To sleep in a bed, it’s a luxury.

Some groceries are open and some pharmacies. Different initiatives have emerged. Now on a Facebook page, there is a map created by a specialist and you can find a pharmacy that is open. 

The same with all other things. People try to do whatever they can to help the country to resist.

Olexandra Matviychuk
“We need not only raw emotions but actions,” Matviichuk says.
Olexandra Matviychuk/Facebook

We are taking testimonies of people who witnessed deliberate shelling of civilian objects and civilian populations. According to our materials, we can state in majority of cases there was no military objects nearby. So it’s a deliberate policy to provide more harm to civilians and provoke panic.

Also we documented attacks on hospitals, kindergartens, schools etc.

I don’t allow myself to go into emotion because there is no time for emotions. We have to spend every minute on the action.

I try to avoid seeing the list of people who are killed. Because, you understand, it’s too hard.


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Based on the last several days, we saw that the intensity of war crimes has become more and more. So it’s growing. 

Now Russia switched off Facebook and Twitter and closed the small number of independent media which remained. We think it’s preparation for something worse because they don’t want Russians to see what they will do with us.

Ukraine map
Map of attacks in Ukraine.

I have a message to the West: We are very grateful for the whole solidarity. We feel it, but we need not only raw emotions but actions.

Ukraine asked to protect our sky or at least to provide us fighter planes and an air defense system in order to stop this barbarian shelling of Ukrainian cities by Russians. We didn’t get these weapons yet. 

I don’t know what is in store for me or my family or my colleagues or my friends. But I know for sure that Ukraine will resist because we are fighting for our country, for our dignity, for our people, for our values. Russia tried to return us to the past which does not exist at all. We will never be a part of a restored Soviet Union. Putin will lose sooner or later.

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