Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

World

Ukrainian Nobel winner demands justice for Russian ‘war criminals’

'There will not be sustainable peace without justice,' stresses Oleksandra Matviichuk - Copyright AFP Stefanie Loos
'There will not be sustainable peace without justice,' stresses Oleksandra Matviichuk - Copyright AFP Stefanie Loos

Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Ukrainian rights activist whose NGO was co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, called Thursday for the world to “hold Russian war criminals accountable,” in an interview with AFP.

“We must break the circle of impunity,” she said, urging the United Nations and the European Union to back Kyiv’s call for a special tribunal able to judge top Russian officials all the way up to President Vladimir Putin.

Caesar, a 50-year-old Russian who fights on the side of Ukraine, walks through the ruins of an Orthodox monastery in Dolina

Caesar, a 50-year-old Russian who fights on the side of Ukraine, walks through the ruins of an Orthodox monastery in Dolina – Copyright AFP Noel Celis

While acknowledging that getting a majority of UN member countries behind that goal was a “hard task,” Matviichuk said it was indispensable for any post-war peace that might follow the end of the conflict in her country.

“There will not be sustainable peace without justice,” she noted.

Her demand came nearly a year after Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which followed its 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east.

The military stalemate in Ukraine has heightened fears Russia might resort to using its nuclear arsenal

The military stalemate in Ukraine has heightened fears Russia might resort to using its nuclear arsenal – Copyright AFP/File SERGEY BOBOK

She was speaking at Belgium’s University of Louvain just ahead of receiving an honorary doctorate there, alongside Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman and Adelle Blackett, a law professor at Canada’s McGill University.

The trio were being recognised for the fight for civil rights and a fairer society.

– ‘Everyone’s rights protected’ –

Thousands of civilians have been killed since Russia launched war on Ukraine in February – Copyright AFP BULENT KILIC

The Ukrainian NGO that Matviichuk runs, the Center for Civil Liberties, last year shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Russian rights organisation Memorial and an imprisoned Belarusian pro-democracy activist, Ales Bialiatski.

A local resident visits soldiers' graves on the Day of Dignity and Freedom at the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, western Ukraine

A local resident visits soldiers’ graves on the Day of Dignity and Freedom at the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, western Ukraine – Copyright AFP BULENT KILIC

Matviichuk’s Center for Civil Liberties, founded in 2007, has campaigned for rule of law and democracy in Ukraine.

That struggle has only become harder with Russia’s military offensive, but it has not been forgotten, she said — to the contrary, the values the NGO campaigns on are central to Ukraine’s efforts to one day join the European Union.

“We have two main tasks: to survive and to resist, and to continue our democratic path,” Matviichuk said.

“We’re still a nation in transit, and we can’t concentrate energy only on this reforming path — we have in parallel the war with Russia.

Ukraine military hold Ukrainian flag over a coffin during a funeral ceremony in Bucha near Kyiv

Ukraine military hold Ukrainian flag over a coffin during a funeral ceremony in Bucha near Kyiv – Copyright POOL/AFP Mast IRHAM

“But after the large-scale invasion started, we still have no luxury to concentrate only on one goal, we have to fight for our survival. And we have to move on to join to European Union,” she said.

Ukrainian troops need vast amounts of ammunition to keep fighting off the Russian offensive

Ukrainian troops need vast amounts of ammunition to keep fighting off the Russian offensive – Copyright AFP YASUYOSHI CHIBA

Ukraine’s ambition to become an EU member state could take many years, EU officials say, though some EU neighbours of Ukraine are lobbying for a faster timeline.

Becoming part of the European Union means becoming part of the “European civilisation space,” Matviichuk said.

Joining the EU would mean “we will have a chance to build our country where the rights of everybody are protected,” she said.

AFP
Written By

With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

You may also like:

Tech & Science

According to a current study published in Nature, psilocybin “desynchronizes” the brain.

World

Donald Trump caps off a crazy year with his coronation as the Republican Party's presidential nominee.

Business

United Airlines reported higher quarterly profits Wednesday but announced it would trim US capacity later this year.

Entertainment

Emmy-nominated actor Joshua Morrow chatted about his 30th anniversary on "The Young and The Restless" on CBS.