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Victor Pinchuk Foundation opens Russian War Crimes Exhibition at the UK Parliament

In partnership with the Office of the President of Ukraine and PinchukArtCentre bring stories of Russia’s crimes against the Ukrainian people to British Parliamentarians

29th November 2022, London – Today in the United Kingdom’s Houses of Parliament, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist, Victor Pinchuk and Executive Director of the International Bar Association, Dr Mark Ellis welcomed UK parliamentarians to the opening of the Russian War Crimes exhibition. The project, organised by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and PinchukArtCentre, in partnership with the Office of the President of Ukraine tells the stories of some of the people and places who have been subjected to the horrific reality of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The Russian War Crimes Exhibition shines a light on the atrocities committed by the Russians since they began their all-out war against Ukraine in February this year. It records the actions of a nation that has not only invaded a peaceful country but actively targets Ukrainian civilians through a series of criminal actions including rape, kidnapping, deportations, executions, and bombardments. The exhibition includes photographs from all over Ukraine, taken since the start of the war. Even so, it only addresses a fraction of the known crimes. The exhibition gives back faces and names to Ukrainians that have become statistics. It restores the people from the numbers and offers at least some of the victims a place to speak and share their story.

Welcoming the First Lady of Ukraine, and other speakers to the opening of the exhibition, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, began by emphasising the importance of the exhibition: “This exhibition shows the reality, the atrocities carried out against civilians. The images in it are shocking, distressing and appalling. We said ‘never again’ following the atrocities carried out in the Second World War, and then again in Bosnia. Yet here we are. Even though the images are upsetting it is important that we as parliamentarians engage with the subject matter and understand the reality for UKraine. I encourage you all to visit the exhibition, which runs from now until 9th December. Ultimately, the exhibition says more than I could ever say.”

Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine welcomed the guests, and thanked them for making time to attend: “More than 40,000 war crimes have been registered in Ukraine. These are not just statistics; but real people and places with faces and names. Every torturer in this war has a face too. But, they are people without two things, they don’t have souls and they don’t have consciences. I hope you look at the photos and that in doing so the abstract idea of the war in Ukraine will become real. The exhibition shows just a small number of the atrocities committed against Ukrainians. As we are here opening the exhibition, the Russians are murdering, raping and humiliating Ukrainians. They will continue murdering with impunity if we don’t stop them. I would be very grateful to all of you to spread truth about the war so that we may restore justice.”

Andriy Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said: “Each time I open this exhibition, I name more and more crimes committed by Russian military against Ukraine. To date, 46,000 crimes have been committed, 43,000 houses destroyed, 8,000 civilians killed, of which 450 were children, and 11,000 children have been forcibly deported from Ukraine. But these are just the crimes we know about, the real scale of the tragedies is not yet known. We see terrible crimes like the rape and murder of a young girl, or a young man murdered after having his genitals cut off, every time we liberate a settlement. Behind these crimes, there has been one that has made them possible. We must investigate the one big crime, the leadership crime, the crime of people in power. We cannot restore justice without this. Yet there is no judicial body that can do this. Since the first day of the invasion, we have been looking for answers to these questions. 

“We have come to the sad conclusion, no one will be brought to justice for their war of aggression unless a special tribunal is created. Ukraine asks that the international community convene this special tribunal. We really hope that while Ukraine is fighting for its very existence, the rest of the world creates this tribunal, and those who gave the orders can be brought to justice”, continued Yermak.

Victor Pinchuk, businessman and philanthropist, said: “Since 2016, I have been involved in the creation of a Holocaust Memorial Centre at Babyn Jar, a place where 81 years ago, German Nazi soldiers killed over 33,000 Ukrainian Jews in two days. We created this memorial with a dream that such atrocities would never happen again. Since the 24th February we are witness again to multiple war crimes and we have understood that our dream unfortunately doesn’t work. We have to tell our story loudly so that the international community acts in support. So we have created this exhibition in partnership with the Office of the President of Ukraine. We first exhibited at The Russian War Crimes House in Davos (in the building formally known as the Russia House), and have since taken it to Brussels, and to New York.

“It is terrible to think that since we last exhibited, even more horrendous crimes have been committed. We have to present these crimes as they are so that the international community realises that more severe sanctions are needed, and that we need them to continue to support us and to send more weapons. We hope this exhibition will help to show what we are defending against and what we are fighting for and why we have to win together. Art is a powerful tool, and I know the exhibition will contribute to our victory. We will continue to take it to capital cities all over the world, until the war is over, and the perpetrators of these hideous crimes are brought to the war crimes tribunal – where we will show this exhibition for the last time,” Mr Pinchuk finished.

Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association said, “Russia is violating the territorial integrity of a state. The exhibition showing pictures of the violations enables us to better speak out on what Russia has done. The power of telling this story must not be underestimated. A tectonic shift in humanity is underway. Ukraine is the most documented war in history. No longer do you need to show the chain of custody, pictorial evidence can speak for itself and ensures authenticity. These videos and these pictures will help ensure justice is brought.”

The Russian War Crimes Exhibition can be found at Portcullis House, 1 Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2JR from 29 November to 9th December.

To view the video of the opening event, and hear these speeches and testimonies for yourself, please visit our YouTube channel.

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Created and supported by: «Art Depo» Creative Agency