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Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina dies in Russian missile strike

She was documenting war crimes during the Russia-Ukraine war
Photo via Twitter/@vamelina
Photo via Twitter/@vamelina

Ukrainian war crimes researcher and novelist Victoria Amelina, 37, died on July 1 from injuries after a Russian missile hit a Pizza restaurant last Tuesday in the city of Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, Aljazeera reported.

She was dining at the Ria Pizza restaurant with a delegation of Colombian writers and journalists on June 27, when a Russian missile struck that killed 12 people including four children, and wounding dozens.

The war crimes researcher becomes the 13th person to have died in the attack.

Amelina was taken to Mechnikov Hospital in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, located in the centre of the country, but succumbed to her injuries on Saturday.

She is also the latest cultural figure killed in the full-fledged war launched on Ukraine by Russia in February 2022.

PEN, a nonprofit organisation which 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.”

Documenting war crimes

Born in the western city of Lviv, Amelina began her career in IT. In 2015, she became a full-time writer and poet. She became one of the country’s most celebrated young writers.

One of her 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.

After the start of the Russia-Ukraine last year, Amelina began documenting war crimes. She also worked with children near the front line.

During the war, she had been all over the eastern, southern and northern parts of Ukraine, particularly 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 in the city of Izyum soon after the start of the war.

Vakulenko and Amelina are not the only cultural figures to have died since the start of the war.

In Oleksandr Kysliuk, a well-known translator from ancient Greek and Latin, was reportedly shot dead in his house in the Kyiv suburb, Bucha, during Russia’s attempt to take over the capital.

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.

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