Voices Silenced: Remembering the Lost Ukrainian Authors and Translators

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The full-scale war of Russia against Ukraine has led to widespread devastation and loss of life. It also has struck a severe blow to the cultural heart of Ukraine. This war has claimed the lives of numerous of Ukraine’s cultural figures, including writers, translators, musicians, actors, and artists. These individuals, both men and women, have been the fabric of the contemporary Ukrainian culture. While some were prominent figures, others were still rising stars. Their passing has created a profound gap in Ukraine’s cultural future.

To commemorate and honour these lost voices, Olena Herasymyuk, a writer and paramedic with a volunteer medical battalion, has undertaken a poignant project. She created a list of writers and translators who had perished in the war. This list pays tribute to both those who took up arms to defend Ukraine and those who lost their lives as civilians.

Herasymyuk’s list is not exhaustive. It represents a fraction of the cultural figures whose lives were indirectly or directly cut short by the war. 

This effort to memorialise those lost is not isolated. Other activists and organisations are also compiling records to keep the memory of the unjustly perished Ukrainians alive. From the war’s beginning, PEN Ukraine, a member of the worldwide network of writers, has been meticulously documenting the casualties within Ukraine’s cultural community. The information gathered continues to grow, mirroring the ongoing conflict and its repercussions. Although the PEN Ukraine’s monitoring is unofficial, it highlights a sombre truth: the actual number of artists, intellectuals, and creators fallen in the war likely surpasses what is currently documented.

We shall never forget their names. Though cut short, their legacies will continue to inspire and serve as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Ukrainian nation. In remembering them, we commit to not letting their voices be silenced in vain. 

Sova Books has compiled a list of authors and translators whose lives were tragically cut short by Russian aggression. We relied on the invaluable information provided by Olena Herasymyuk, Chytomo, and PEN Ukraine to assemble this list. Additionally, we consulted other reputable online sources, to which we have provided links for further reference.

AFANASYEV, Hennadiy (Геннадій Афанасьєв), a Crimean civic activist and former political prisoner of the Kremlin, authored an autobiographical book titled “To Rise After Falling” (“Піднятися після падіння”) following his return from captivity in Russia. He was killed in a battle on 18 December 2022 in the village of Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region at the age of 32.

AHAFONOVA, Nadiya (Надія Агафонова), a poet from Mykolaiv City, perished under the debris of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building, which was shelled by Russian forces. She passed away on 29 March 2022 at the age of 44.

AMELINA, Viktoriya (Вікторія Амеліна), a writer known for her novels and children’s books, passed away on 1 July 2023. She sustained serious injuries from a Russian missile attack on the centre of Kramatorsk on 27 June. At the time, Amelina was at the Ria Lounge pizza bar, accompanying a Colombian delegation. Aged 37, she was a laureate of the Joseph Conrad Prize, an accolade presented to emerging Ukrainian authors. She is survived by her 10-year-old daughter.

BABYCH, Hlib (Гліб Бабич), a poet who served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, was 53 years old at the time of his death on the battlefield. Over the course of his life, he authored more than 500 poems. In addition to his poetry, Babych also penned lyrics for several bands.

BAL, Yevhen (Євген Баль), a 78-year-old esteemed writer and journalist, passed away on 2 April 2022, after enduring torture by Russian occupiers in the village of Melekino, near Mariupol. He authored several books, including “Meridians of Navigator Bark” (“Меридіани штурмана Барка”), “Fair-way Unknown” (“Фарватер не відомий”), and “Chronicles of Dog Filimon” (“Хроніки пса Филимона”). Bal was also a retired Captain 1st Rank and had served as a submariner in the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

BEREZHNYI, Oleksandr (Олександр Бережний), a railway employee from the Dnipro region and a passionate poet, managed a literary studio in Zhovti Vody and had published multiple books. Berezhnyi’s life was tragically cut short at 57, when he was killed on 4 May 2022, during a combat mission near Staryi Saltiv in the Kharkiv region. The war prematurely ended his plans to publish his latest collection, “He will fly up!” (“Він злетить!”).

BOHACH, Vasyl (Василь Богач), awarded the title Hero of Ukraine and known for his defence of Mariupol and Azovstal, held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the SBU. He lost his life during an airstrike on the steel plant on 8 May 2022. Writing under the pseudonym Ivan Bohdan, he authored three books: “Mariupol 2014” (“Маріуполь 2014”), “Patriot Prisoners” (“Патріотв’язні”), and “Beyond the Trenches” (“По той бік окопів”). The title of Hero of Ukraine has been posthumously awarded to Vasyl Bohach. 

BUROV, Serhiy (Сергій Буров), an esteemed writer, historian, and local lore specialist from Mariupol, tragically fell during the Russian occupation. He was 84 years old when he lost his life on 21 April 2022, amidst the siege and bombing of Mariupol by Russian military forces.

CHERNILEVSKY, Illia (Ілля Чернілевський), a talented poet, musician, and translator, dedicated over a decade to translating songs for numerous series and movies from prestigious studios such as Disney, Universal, Sony, and Netflix. His life was tragically cut short at the age of 30. He was killed in combat near Avdiivka, in the Donetsk region, on 7 May 2022.

DOROSHENKO, Vasyl (Василь Дорошенко), an aspiring writer, fought valiantly near Bakhmut. Until nearly his final days, he maintained a diary chronicling his front-line experiences, harbouring dreams of one day turning it into a published book. On 13 August 2023, this brave soldier’s life was cut short in battle at the age of 28.

DOVHOPOLYI, Artem (Артем Довгополий), a poet and senior sergeant in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, hailed from Konotop. He met his end on 4 August 2022, during combat near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. He was 28 years old at the time of his death.

HAIDAR, Oksana (Оксана Гайдар), lost her life during the shelling of Shevchenkove village in the Brovary district by Russian artillery, which occurred between 11 and 12 March 2022. The journalist perished alongside her mother, Lidiya. She was renowned for her contributions to historical publications.

HORBYK, Valeriy (Валерій Горбик) – Poet and senior combat medic, died from a Russian bullet in the Izium district on 5 October 2022. He was 49 years old.

HOSHYLYK, Oleksandr (Олександр Гошилик), hailing from the town of Dolyna in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, Oleksandr Hoshylyk balanced his civilian life as an IT developer, a first-category chess player, and a poet under the pseudonym Cursed Molfar (“Клятий Мольфар”). He was the author of the poetry collection “Bridge Across Eternity” (“Міст через вічність”). Tragically, his life was cut short on 7 October 2022, near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. He was 27 years old at the time of his death.

HUDYMA, Andriy (Андрій Гудима), cookbook author, artist, and restaurant chef from Lviv, tragically lost his life on the battlefield near Bakhmut on 2 July 2023.

HULEVYCH, Yevhen (Євген Гулевич), one of Ukraine’s foremost contemporary philosophers, translators, philologists, and cultural experts. Tragically, he met his end in the prime of his intellectual vigour, defending Ukrainian land against a formidable foe. Among his notable achievements, he translated Ray Bradbury’s novel “Something wicked this way comes”. Also, he served as the chief editor of the Ukrainian edition of Rafael Schacter’s “World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti”. Yevhen Hulevych’s untimely passing occurred on 31 December 2022, near Bakhmut.

HYRYCH, Vira (Віра Гирич), served as a staff journalist for the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty. She lost her life in the shelling of a residential building in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv on the evening of 28 April 2022. She was 54 years old.

IVAKIN, Oleksiy (Олексій Івакін), a Kharkiv poet, was both the inspiration and a participant in the cultural centre “Kharkiv SLAM”. There he regularly organised poetry evenings before the outbreak of full-scale war. He was killed on a battlefield in the Zaporizhia region on 6 September 2023 at the age of 35.

KHARAKOZ, Natalia (Наталя Харакоз), prose writer and editor of a literary journal, a resident of Mariupol. During the Russian attacks on Mariupol, Kharakoz endured more than ten days in the basement of her destroyed home before she passed away on 29 March 2022. She was 86 years old.

KLIUFAS, Oleh (Олег Клюфас), a multifaceted individual known as a poet, translator, philosopher, singer, and member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, tragically passed away on 13 June 2023, while carrying out a combat mission near the village of Rozdolivka in the Donetsk region. He had celebrated his 43rd birthday just four days prior to his untimely death.

KONONCHUK, Danylo (Данило Конончук), poet and musician Lieutenant Danylo Kononchuk passed away on 21 June 2023 in the Kharkiv region while on a combat mission. He was 32 years old.

KOVALENKO, Yuriy (Юрій Коваленко), on 14 March 2023, near Kreminna town in the Luhansk region, Ukrainian historian, archaeologist, volunteer, and musician Yuriy Kovalenko was killed in a battle with Russian forces. A renowned figure, Yuriy was also a dedicated warrior and a graduate of the History Department of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. His contributions to Ukraine, both in academia and on the battlefield, mark the legacy of a great knight.

KUZENKOV, Oleksandr (Олександр Кузенков), poet and prose writer Oleksandr was born in Kyiv. In early 2017, he published a collection of short stories titled “The Last Smiles of Ilovaisk” (“Останні посмішки Іловайська”). He served in the Ukrainian army and passed away in the battle of Bakhmut on 20 December 2022.

KYSLIUK, Oleksandr (Олександр Кислюк), on 5 March 2022, in Bucha, Ukrainian scholar, polyglot, and educator Oleksandr Kysliuk was executed by shooting by Russian forces. An expert in history and translation, Kysliuk served as a senior lecturer in the Department of Theory and History of State and Law at the Institute of Political Science and Law of the National Pedagogical University named after M. P. Drahomanov. He taught courses in Latin and Roman law. He translated several significant works into Ukrainian, including “The Politics” by Aristotle, “Anabasis” by Xenophon, “Annals” by Tacitus, “Theological Works of Saint Justinian,” a complete Church Slavonic dictionary, and works by Justinian and Thomas Aquinas. He was 60 years old.

MATVIIV, Taras (Тарас Матвіїв), a writer of prose and poetry, journalist, activist, and junior lieutenant, Taras Matviiv was killed during enemy mortar shelling near the village of Troitske, in the Luhansk region on 10 July 2020. He was 31 years old. Matviiv was posthumously honoured with the title of Hero of Ukraine and awarded the “Gold Star” order.

MENSHOV, Oleksandr (Олександр Меньшов), a detective writer and activist from Kherson, Oleksandr Menshov was killed by mortar shelling near the village of Klishchiivka in the Donetsk region during a combat mission on 17 November 2023. He was 46 years old.

MYSIAK, Ihor (Ігор Мисяк), a poet and novelist from the Lviv region, Ihor Mysiak participated in the liberation of the Kherson region from Russian forces. He was 29 years old. In November 2022, he debuted his novel “The Factory” (“Zavod”), which was dedicated to a fallen comrade. Mysiak was killed near Bakhmut on 1 April 2023.

OSADKO, Oleksandr (Sashko; Олександр Осадко), his only book, a collection of stories titled “Live Cannot Die” (deliberately missing punctuation), was published posthumously. Oleksandr Osadko was killed in Krasnopillya on 9 July 2022. He was 46 years old.

PAVLENKO, Olha (Ольга Павленко), an artist, art teacher, and researcher of traditional Ukrainian cuisine, Olha Pavlenko was the author of the culinary book “Living Ukrainian Cuisine” (“ЖУК: Жива Українська Кухня”). Known for her creativity, vibrancy, and ambition, Olha died on 27 June 2022, due to a Russian missile strike on Kremenchuk. She was identified by DNA and her distinctively dyed green hair. Olha was 38 years old.

PETRENKO, Maksym (Максим Петренко), a prose writer, university lecturer, and head of the cyber-physical systems laboratory. In the spring of 2022, Maksym Petrenko disappeared without a trace, and it was initially hoped and believed that he had been captured. His death was confirmed on 6 November 2022.

PODYBAILO, Danylo (Данило Подибайло), a poet, musician, and historian from Mariupol, Danylo Podybailo was killed during a combat mission near Bakhmut on 1 June 2023. He was 26 years old.

ROLDUHIN, Yevhen (Євгеній Ролдугін), an athlete and author of the book “Time of the Brave” (“Час відважних”), Yevhen Rolduhin from Khmelnytskyi was a courageous hero who died while saving a severely wounded comrade. He had been actively involved in the defence of his country since the age of 18. Yevhen Rolduhin was killed in the Kharkiv region on 11 September 2022.

ROMANOVSKYI, Valeriy (Валерій Романовський), a Candidate of Historical Sciences and Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies at the Kharkiv State Academy of Culture, was wounded in the front-line fighting. He passed away from his injuries in a hospital on 16 January 2023, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Aged 46, he authored more than a dozen scholarly works on the cultural history of Ukraine.

RUF, Yuriy (Юрій Руф), a poet, writer, academic, and public figure, as well as the creator of the “Spirit of the Nation” literary project, Ruf voluntarily enlisted in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. He died in combat with enemy forces in the Luhansk region on 1 April 2022, at the age of 42.

SKALD, Serhiy (Сергій Скальд), a poet, public activist, and military man from Chernivtsi, actively participated in the Revolution of Dignity. He served in the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps “Right Sector” and was among the defenders at the “Azovstal” plant in Mariupol. Skald tragically lost his life there in late April 2022. He was 43 years old.

SLIUSHCHYNSKYI, Bohdan (Богдан Слющинський), a writer, poet, and scholar from Mariupol, tragically lost his life at the age of 75 during a Russian shelling on 9 April 2022. A fragment from an enemy shell fatally struck his heart. Bohdan was a respected Doctor of Sociology, a professor at Mariupol State University, and an influential figure in the city’s cultural life. He founded the literary and art journal “Mariupol” and led the student literary association “Pearls of the Word.” He authored several books, including “Tired Hope,” “Echo,” “In the Embrace of Time,” “Autumn Windmill,” “Sources,” “Dawn Dew,” and “Breath of the Wind.”

VAKULENKO, Volodymyr (Володимир Вакуленко), renowned for his children’s books, was a civilian living under Russian occupation and a single father of a son with a spectrum disorder. He was tragically killed by two bullets. On 24 March 2022, Russian forces abducted him from his home in the village of Kapytolivka near Izium. His family has not seen him alive since. The remains identified by the police in the notorious mass grave number 319 were confirmed to be those of Volodymyr Vakulenko. He was 50 years old.

ZAIKOVSKYI, Serhiy (Сергій Заїковський) was a translator, historian, and publicist hailing from the Cherkasy region. A graduate of the Faculty of History at Kharkiv National University named after Karazin, he was 27 years old when he was killed in action on 24 March 2023.

ZAKERNYCHNYI, Oleksandr (Олександр Закерничний), an essayist and artist based in Odesa, as well as a serviceman in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was killed in action on 4 August 2023. He perished due to artillery fire while stationed on the front lines in the Izium sector.

In honouring these lost voices, we are reminded of the power of words. Words that connect, heal, and inspire. The authors and translators who fell in the war leave behind a legacy. It is a legacy of courage, creativity, and commitment to cultural expression.

Heroyam slava!