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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ukraine at War: Remembering Ukrainian students killed by Russian aggression

Ukraine At War
Graphic by Jaylin Cho

The “Unissued Diplomas” exhibition is a collection of short stories about Ukrainian students who were killed in Russia’s war against Ukraine. To honor their memory, a series of digital postcards was created, detailing their majors, interests and the tragic stories of their deaths. The exhibition and photographs from Ukraine depicting life at war are on view at Tisch Library’s main lobby until April 5. Earlier this semester, it was shown at Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University.

The project covers civilian cases like that of Anna Kushnerenko, a 17-year-old girl who studied at a college for music in Chernihiv. “She played the Ukrainian traditional string instrument, the Bandura and her singing was captivating,” the “unissued diploma” mentions. On March 9, 2022, Anna was mortally wounded in the stomach by a fragment of a bomb while attempting to cross a bridge over the Desna River near Chernihiv. “Unissued Diplomas” also chronicles the stories of some Ukrainian students who were killed while fighting for the country’s freedom. For instance, Hlib Ivanov was 21 years old when he died in a battle for Bakhmut. Prior to joining the Armed Forces of Ukraine with his father, he studied political science at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. “Having visited 14 European countries, he loved his hometown, Kyiv, more than any other place, especially during long walks with his dog,” the postcard states. A management student of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ostap Onistrat defended Ukraine for a year before he was killed in action near the town of Vuhledar in Donetsk region. His “unissued diploma” reveals his love for chess and his dream to open a shooting gallery.

While the in-person exhibition tells about a few students from Ukraine who died either defending the country or due to a Russian attack, more stories are available on the “Unissued Diplomas” website. The team that put the project together also launched a donation initiative with the goal of raising funds to provide educational grants and scholarships, including one full-tuition scholarship for a year, in collaboration with the Kyiv-Mohyla Foundation of America and Kyiv-Mohyla Foundation of Canada. Overall, “Unissued Diplomas” features forty students, yet it is not by any means an exact number of young adults killed, as it remains impossible to investigate deaths in the temporarily occupied regions and the frontline. With constant bombings of civilian areas, including universities, losses increase daily. Karazin University in Kharkiv, which had been continuously bombed in late February and early March 2022, is just one of many examples of Russian intent to destroy the generation of Ukrainian youth.

Russian attacks in Ukraine have intensified in the last couple of weeks. On the night of March 23–24, Russians attacked my home city, Kryvyi Rih, with several groups of kamikaze drones, killing at least three people and injuring 38, including 10 children. The attack caused power outages and left 76,000 people without heating in their homes. On March 25, the Kyiv city center was bombed by missiles in the middle of the day. Residential buildings were severely damaged, and more than 10 people were wounded. Remembering those who died in the war is crucial, especially in the light of the growing death toll, as every loss serves as a reminder to fight the cruel Russian aggression. The “Unissued Diplomas” project promotes the memory of Ukrainian students who passed as a result of Russia’s war in a touching and effective way. Although the content is incredibly tragic, it is incredible to see the commemoration of lost Ukrainian youth at Tufts.