In awe of those fighting Russian tyranny
One year on from Russia's full-scale invasion, we won't stop telling the stories of those fighting Putin’s aggression in both Ukraine and Russia
24 Feb 23

One year ago we all watched in horror as Putin’s Russia initiated an all out invasion of Ukraine. The people of Ukraine did nothing to initiate this war, they did not choose violence, but every family is now paying the price for this Putin’s aggression. Ukrainian families are divided, spread throughout Europe. People are traumatised, they have lost loved ones and too many live under perpetual fear of the next Russian onslaught.

The UN believes that over 8,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the last year, with thousands more hurt as the Russians bombard urban areas. And as they defend themselves against Russian aggression every person able to fight has joined the military – everyone is on the frontline.

I make no apologies for standing with the people of Ukraine, for supporting Nato’s efforts to support the Ukrainian military as they seek to defend their people and their homes. As US president Joe Biden made clear this week this war is now the frontline in the battle of autocrats versus democrats. And I, like you, am a democrat.

Twelve months on there are so many stories, of death, of heartbreak but also of inspirational acts from people who never expected to be on the frontline. As ever it is their stories which we should tell, it’s their pain we should mark and their losses which we share. It is their stories which should feature this week and every week – until Ukraine is free.

In the midst of war, however, it is easy to forget the dissidents, the people who are adamant that Putin doesn’t act in their name, the people whose actions will hopefully one day lead to peace. In the heat of war, whilst living under an authoritarian regime, it requires a significant level of bravery to speak out – to challenge your government, to oppose military action.  Today’s stats tally 19,586 people who have been arrested across the Russian Federation for protesting the war.

Index was founded to provide a platform for Soviet dissidents over 50 years ago at the height of the Cold War. Our raison d’etre is to provide a voice for the persecuted, a place where the brave and the disillusioned can tell their stories, to help dissidents who live in authoritarian regimes. The last year has taken my team and I full circle, reminding us of our roots and ensuring that we keep striving to promote and protect the right of freedom of expression in totalitarian regimes.

Today we remember those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend their country, the civilians who have been caught in the crossfire and those brave dissidents who in the direst of circumstances keep trying to speak truth to power.

Slava Ukraini

By Ruth Anderson

CEO at Index On Censorship