PEN Ukraine statement in support of theater director Yevhen Lavrenchuk
On December 17 in Naples, Ukrainian theater director Yevhen Lavrenchuk was detained at a request of the Russian Federation. Presently, he is in custody at a detention facility in Italy–for the time the extradition request is being considered.
Yevhen Lavrenchuk, based in Lviv, studied at Roman Viktiuk’s studio in the Russian Academy of Theater Arts and completed tertiary choreography courses at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Poland. He is the co-founder and art director of the Polish Theater in Moscow. In 2015, he returned to Ukraine in protest against Russia’s unlawful agenda regarding Ukraine. In 2018–2021, he was the chief director at the Odesa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. Yevhen Lavrenchuk is the winner of the Les Kurbas Theater Prize, the organizer of Opera UA, an all-Ukrainian opera forum, the founder and director of the First Ukrainian Theater and Film School. In 2020, he received an invitation to work at Jerusalem Lyric Opera in Tel Aviv.
In Naples, Yevhen Lavrenchuk had a stopover–he was detained prior to boarding the flight to Lviv, where he was to host the commemorative event for Roman Viktiuk. The Russian side accuses Lavrenchuk of financial crimes allegedly committed eight years ago, when he resided and worked in Russia.
Bearing in mind the case of Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov, whom Russian authorities charged with "high-profile embezzlement" in 2017, we believe that Yevhen Lavrenchuk’s case is likely to be fabricated and politically motivated. The authorities of the aggressor state that eight years ago waged a war against Ukraine continue to clamp down on artists and journalists who express dissent with its politics
The Ukrainian PEN underlines that it is unacceptable to extradite Yevhen Lavrenchuk to Russia, where security officers incessantly torture prisoners. Extradition to such states is prohibited by international human rights standards. Over the last years, hundreds of Ukrainian political prisoners have gone through Russian prisons and tortures there. At least 127 Ukrainians are persecuted on political grounds and held in prisons or on house arrest in Russia or the temporarily occupied Crimea. Their cases attest the fact that there is no room for justice in Russia, with life and health of political prisoners continuously in jeopardy due to torture and intolerable detention conditions in penitentiary institutions.
We call on the Ukrainian Government to exert every effort for Yevhen Lavrenchuk’s release and return to Ukraine. We also call on Italian colleagues–writers, artists, journalists–to not sit out but demand Italy’s law enforcement agencies to oppose Russia’s pressure, ensure unprejudiced investigation into the case of the Ukrainian theater director, and keep in mind that extradition to states which practice torture is prohibited.
The statement signatories (the list is being updated):
1. Myroslav Marynovych, publicist, Honorary President of PEN Ukraine
2. Mykola Riabchuk, writer, publicist, Honorary President of PEN Ukraine
3. Andriy Kurkov, writer, President of PEN Ukraine
4. Ostap Slyvynsky, writer, Vice President of PEN Ukraine
5. Tetyana Teren, journalist, Executive Director of PEN Ukraine
6. Iryna Slavinska, journalist, Member of Executive Council of PEN Ukraine
7. Tamara Hundorova, professor, literary scholar, Member of Executive Council of PEN Ukraine
8. Yaroslav Hrytsak, historian, professor at UCU
9. Serhiy Zhadan, writer
10. Vitaly Portnikov, journalist
11. Myroslava Barchuk, journalist, TV presenter
12. Yevhen Zakharov, human rights activist
13. Igor Kozlovskyy, religious scholar, historian, writer, public activist
14. Vadym Karpiak, journalist
15. Andriy Lyubka, writer
16. Leonid Finberg, publisher
17. Constantin Sigov, philosopher, professor at NaUKMA
18. Vakhtang Kebuladze, philosopher, publicist, translator, professor at Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv
19. Diana Klochko, art historian, lecturer
20. Oles Ilchenko, writer
21. Natalka Bilotserkivets, poet
22. Volodymyr Rafeenko, writer, literary scholar
23. Oleksiy Panych, philosopher, translator
24. Halyna Coynash, journalist
25. Natalka Sniadanko, writer, translator
26. Vasyl Makhno, writer
27. Eleonora Solovey, literary scholar
28. Olha Mukha, culture manager, researcher
29. Borys Khersonskyi, poet, clinical psychologist, rector of the Kyiv Institute of Modern Psychology and Psychotherapy
30. Olena Styazhkina, historian, writer
31. Andrij Bondar, author
32. Alexander Motyl, writer
33. Victor Morozov, translator
34. Mykola Semena, journalist
35. Anna Vovchenko, translator
36. Nathalie Beltchenko, poet, translator
37. Vitaly Chernetsky, literary scholar, translator
38. Oleh Kotsarev, writer, journalist
39. Olha Luchuk, literary scholar, docent at the Ivan Franko University in Lviv
40. Halyna Vdovychenko, writer
41. Stepan Protsiuk, writer
42. Oleksiy Nikitin, writer
43. Iryna Tsilyk, writer, film director
44. Yuri Matevoshchuk, culture manager, translator
45. Taras Luchuk, literary scholar, translator
46. Sophia Cheliak, culture manager, translator
47. Iya Kiva, poet, translator, journalist
48. Kateryna Botanova, curator, critic
49. Petro Yatsenko, writer
50. Alim Aliev, human rights defender, journalist, curator of education and culture projects, member of PEN Ukraine Excecutive Board
51. Yulia Musakova, poetess, translator
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