“Women in that war did a lot for us to be here, and not where russia wants to see us”
Before Maidan, I worked in an international financial group, that is, in the banking system. On December 1, I came to Euromaidan SOS as a volunteer, and then I resigned from the bank. With the beginning of the war in 2014, I became a human rights defender. That is, I wrote a project for the Centers of Civil Liberties. And actually, this was our first project on documenting war crimes in Crimea and Donbas.
I created volunteer mobile groups, which first had gone to Crimea as long as it was possible, then this territory was closed, and we collected information there in a different way.
All these years we have been coming to Donbas to collect testimonies of war crimes and human rights violations. Since 2016, I have been engaged in international advocacy, meaning that all that we had collected in Crimea and Donbas, all that we had systematized, I brought to the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe. And based on this, we demanded certain decisions - recognition of the occupation, recognition of our political prisoners. Because since 2014, we have been dealing with the topic of political prisoners, that is those who were arrested either in Crimea or kept in basements in Donbas.
The full-scale war, which began on February 24, increased all this tenfold. It turned out that now we have not only political prisoners, but also prisoners of war, civilian prisoners, ‘unfiltered’ people who were forcibly taken to Russia, people who are detained in the occupied territories because they are journalists, activists, and local leaders. And we document all this. Because we have 8 years of experience.
Our work has simply increased 10 times since February 24. And now I am training journalists, documentarians, we are making visits, we have created a coalition with the Ukrainian Human Rights Union, the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. Together with them, we have created a global initiative Tribunal for Putin, which is documenting crimes all over the country. We have 17,500 episodes in our database. These are potential crimes, international crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, crimes of aggression. We voice all this on the international arena.
I'm from Mykolaiv indeed, I have a sister in Kyiv. My mother, with her intuition, booked the tickets on Monday and said that she would come to my place on Wednesday evening. And she came in the evening. And at 5 in the morning, our sister woke us up with a phonecall and said: “The war has started.”
We agreed in the office, and we had a rule in case of anything, we get together in the office and decide where and how we move forward. I warned my mother that I will not come the next night, because the Russian special services have known my name since 2014, and I am banned from entering the Russian Federation and Belarus. Therefore, being near my relatives meant creating problems for them.
We gathered in the office, agreed on how the work will be carried on and the responsibilities if the previous link of the chain falls out. We have such a rule that if someone from the hierarchy does not answer the calls a certain number of hours, the next person in the hierarchy takes over the decision-making. We and the team started a marathon: we conducted interviews, we restarted Euromaidan SOS, because it is a volunteer response system through which people approached us, we launched documentation, international directions, we were constantly in touch as activists who were in the center of events. In this way, we managed to create an understanding of what is happening in Ukraine.
Women’s leadership in this war is striking and contrasts with the fact that the military still cannot adjust to the fact that a woman can be at war. If we talk about politics, social life, about responsibility for the family structure, about diplomacy - then you have to understand that these are no less simple tasks at the moment than being on the front lines. Victory on the battlefield may not be complete without victory on the informational or diplomatic front. And on these fronts, women are simply amazing. Women have done a lot for us to be here, and not where russia wants us to be.
We at the Center for Civil Liberties have a clear strategy that even war cannot interrupt. We are doing now and will continue to do everything to ensure that human rights standards are respected in Ukraine. This is important as hygiene - human rights are everywhere. Among other things, we have plans for the formation of the justice system in Ukraine. We must do quality justice in relation to all those events that happened here.
Ukraine needs entirely realized people for history, and this is possible if men get rid of two disabilities – the disability in emotions and the disability in relations, and women should also get rid of two colossal disabilities - the inability to protect themselves and the disability of self-realization.