The Reckoning Project: Ukraine Testifies was launched in the early days of the war, while evidence is fresh in the minds of the victims and other witnesses, for both testimony-gathering purposes and for the historical record. Over the course of 12 months, The Reckoning Project will have a mandate to investigate alleged human rights violations and abuses, and make recommendations on accountability measures. The project will also collect and amplify the testimonies of witnesses and victims of Russian aggression, including those affected by discrimination, displacement and crimes against humanity. The project’s aim is to build summaries into cases to present to international and national courts. The stories of war must be told accurately, sensitively and respectfully and present a complete narrative. In the past, victims’ stories weren’t told until well after a conflict had concluded, which deprived so many of access to justice. Human rights reporting, documenting evidence and gathering testimonies and legal summaries is urgently required as the war continues.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which put its people under mass physical and political extermination, has forced the European continent to question the very foundations of the institutional order it had been based on since the end of World War II. In the situation, when not just the future but the very present of Europe at large has appeared under direct existential threat from the Russian fascism, all the basic categories that the post-Nazi world relied on, such as democracy and authoritarianism, historicism and neocolonialism, pacifism and demonstration of protest, require a profound revision and change. The system of ideological coordinates as well as the outlines of the political spectrum we have been used to operate in are to be rearranged to tackle a new catastrophic reality.
The fundamental difference that we face in Europe at the moment between the Western approach characterized by the pursuit of peace and the Eastern one focused on liberation and independence poses a dramatic challenge – in order to survive and progress, democracy as a political regime has to be capable of defending itself also in a military way. What changes does it bring to the idea of the nation-state and the principles of internationalism? How will the notions and practices of citizenship, rule of law and human rights and freedoms be altered? In what way does it affect an economic apparatus and constitute the modus vivendi of our societies anew? How could a new political paradigm be safeguarded against imperialist and fascist misuse to prevent political and military violence by the strong against the weak?
Conceived by the Kyiv Biennial and Biennale Warszawa from the East Europe Biennial Alliance, this special public program Armed Democracy, curated by Vasyl Cherepanyn within the 2nd edition of Biennale Warszawa, revolves around the concepts of imperialism, liberation, fascism, autocracy, revolution, and militarization in pursuit of the world to come on Europe’s burnt out land. The program is a first part of the series organized by the East Europe Biennial Alliance discussing Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and taking place in Warsaw, Prague, Kassel, and Riga over the summer and fall of 2022.
Nataliya Gumenyuk is a well-known Ukrainian journalist and author specializing in foreign affairs and conflict reporting. She is the founder and CEO of the Public Interest Journalism Lab. She is the author of several documentaries and books, including The Lost Island: Tales From The Occupied Crimea and Maidan Tahrir. Since the start of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, she has regularly written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Rolling Stone, Die Zeit. She also provides commentaries for CNN, MSNBC, Sky News, etc. Gumenyuk was the co-founder, and for 5 years Head of Independent Hromadske TV and Hromadske International. She is a Member of the Council for Freedom of Speech Under the President of Ukraine, as well as the Independent Media Council
Angelina Kariakina is a journalist and media manager. In 2011 joined Euronews Kyiv bureau. Covered Ukrainian political and social affairs, Maidan protests, Russian aggression and conflict in eastern Ukraine. Joined an independent media project Hromadske TV in 2015 as a journalist and presenter. Covered trials against Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, refugee crisis in Hungary. Co-authored investigations about events at Maidan, received a prize for investigative journalism. Worked as Hromadske editor-in-chief for 3 years (2017–2020). In 2020 co-founded the Public Interest Journalism Lab and joined the Ukrainian Public Broadcaster as a media manager and editor. Works as the head of news at UA:PBC since 2021.
Vasyl Cherepanyn (Ukraine, 1980) is Head of the Visual Culture Research Center(VCRC), an institution founded in Kyiv in 2008 as a platform for collaboration among academic, artistic, and activist communities. He holds a PhD in philosophy (aesthetics) and has lectured at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), University of Helsinki, Free University of Berlin, Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, University of Vienna, Institute for Advanced Studies of the Political Critique in Warsaw, and University of Greifswald. He was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna in 2016. He coedited Guidebook of the Kyiv International (Medusa Books, 2018) and ’68 NOW (Archive Books, 2019), and curated The European International (Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, 2018) and Hybrid Peace (Stroom, The Hague, 2019) among others. VCRC is the organizer of the Kyiv Biennial (The School of Kyiv, 2015; The Kyiv International, 2017; The Kyiv International—’68 NOW, 2018; Black Cloud, 2019; Allied, 2021) and a founding member of the East Europe Biennial Alliance. VCRC received the European Cultural Foundation Princess Margriet Award for Culture in 2015 and the Igor Zabel Award Grant for Culture and Theory in 2018.