Right Livelihood Laureates reflect on two-year mark of Russia’s war on Ukraine

Press releases 21.02.2024

STOCKHOLM – February 24th marks the second anniversary of the war on Ukraine. Right Livelihood Laureates Oleksandra Matviichuk of Ukraine, Vladimir Slivyak of Russia and Natallia Satsunkevich of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in Belarus speak about how two years of war on Ukraine changed their countries and societies.

Witnessing unspeakable horrors, they call for justice and accountability and highlight the role of civil societies’ everyday actions in ending the war.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, 2022 Right Livelihood Laureate, Ukrainian human rights defender and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, said:

“I still lack the words to describe what it means to live during a full-scale war. War shatters all notions of what normal life is. Living during a full-scale war means being in constant anxiety for your loved ones, because there is no safe place for anyone, even if you are far from the front line. However, this dramatic time gives us the opportunity to show our best qualities and become a better version of ourselves. Ordinary people do extraordinary things and risk their own lives to save others they have never met before. And right now, we keenly feel what it means to be human.”

“I am in a situation where the law does not work. I trust that it is temporary. We are now recording war crimes so that, sooner or later, all Russians who have committed these crimes, as well as Putin and the rest of the senior political leadership and military high command, can be brought to justice. We must ensure justice for all.”

Vladimir Slivyak, 2021 Right Livelihood Laureate, Russian environmental and peace activist, said:

“If we’re speaking about Russian activism, this war in Ukraine influenced it a lot. We are finally starting to discuss Russian imperialism and colonialism, the possible democratic developments in Russia and how we can achieve it. And the peace work is important. We were basically witnessing the process of the founding of the Russian peace movement. It’s only now that Russian democratic activists started to understand why it’s important to fight for peace. We have a long road ahead, which I hope will lead to the deconstruction of the Russian political regime – which I call a fascist regime – and hopefully a new democratic time for Russia in the future.”

Natallia Satsunkevich, Belarusian activist with Human Rights Center “Viasna,” 2020 Right Livelihood Laureate organisation, said:

“We see that the biggest part of the population and of course, democratic society, civil society of Belarus do not support the war. We protest against the war and we support the Ukrainian struggle in this war in different ways. You can see dozens of different activities that people in Belarus started doing after the beginning of the invasion. For example, there were some Telegram chats where people sent photos and videos of the Russian army on the territory of Belarus. They provide information to the Ukrainians. Also, people try to damage railways in order to stop the Russian army and war technique. People protest and express solidarity.”

“I express my greatest solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people. I’m really sorry that the war is going on and that some Belarusian people take part in it, supporting it.”

 

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