Ukraine: “Even in the midst of war there is hope”
Despite the risks, people are voicing their opposition to a conflict that gets dirtier and deadlier by the day
04 Mar 22

An aerial view of the TV tower and Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial in Kyiv. Photo: Google

Today marks nine days since Putin unilaterally declared war on Ukraine, invading a sovereign state and attempting to redraw the world order as we know it. Thanks to our independent and free media we have all witnessed the coordinated Russian military attacks from land, sea and air against an innocent population who sought nothing more than to be free. Every one of us is now a witness, for better or worse, to the heart-breaking events happening in mainland Europe. There can be no excuses of ignorance, no turning the other way and no pretence that this isn’t happening on our watch.

An aerial view of the TV tower and Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial in Kyiv. Photo: Google

On Tuesday Putin’s forces committed what can only be considered a war crime in Kyiv – where they targeted the main TV tower and also hit the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial, the site of the largest mass grave in Europe. Five civilians were burned alive, in a European capital, in the twenty-first century. This is only one of the devastating atrocities we have seen reported in the last week – the International Criminal Court has already determined that there is enough evidence to launch a probe into war crimes perpetuated by Russian forces and 38 world leaders have made the largest ever referral to ICC with evidence of potential war crimes perpetuated by Putin’s forces.

On Wednesday Ukrainian Emergency Services announced that over 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed by Russian actions since the invasion began.

Overnight, for the first time in world history, Russian troops targeted a nuclear power facility in Zaporizhzhia, something which could have had terrible consequences for us all.

And this morning the Russian government blocked access to the BBC Russian service website after the Russian language website’s audience had grown from 3.1 million people to 10.7 million since the invasion.

The news is bleak; every day there is more despair, more death and more destruction. Every conversation I have had over the last week has not just touched on events in Ukraine but returned to them again and again. Tears have been shed throughout Europe and impartial and independent media coverage has never been more important.

But even in the midst of war there is hope. Humanity does indeed prevail. Small acts of kindness, of resistance, of rebellion have inspired us all. From the unarmed Ukrainians who refused to let the tanks pass to the exceptional bravery of the journalists who are at the frontline reporting hourly on events, and those in Russia who have been trying to report the facts of the war.

Whilst I could have dedicated this entire blog to the incredibly impressive Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other politicians in Ukraine who are leading from the front, there are others whose bravery I would like to highlight. Every day since the invasion began anti-war protestors have made their voices heard across Russia and Belarus.

Ovd-Info reports that as of this morning 8,163 Russians have been arrested for protesting the war in towns and cities across the country. The Duma has brought in emergency legislation which will now enable jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading ‘fake information’ about the armed forces – this would include saying that the war isn’t going to plan. In response one of the final independent TV stations – Dozhd has closed up shop – their final programme an act of defiance as it showed the staff walking off the set. In Putin’s Russia challenging him or the status quo is a very dangerous thing to do – these people are heroes, using all the tools at their disposal to demonstrate their dissent.

While there are people who are willing to say No, to highlight the impact of an authoritarian regime, to fight for our shared human rights – then there is hope.

Index stands with Ukraine and we stand with the people of Russia who oppose Putin’s aggression.

By Ruth Anderson

CEO at Index On Censorship