He is a Ukrainian who is not talked about much and whom the Western mainstream media does not like to talk about. He is Yurii Sheliazhenko, a conscientious objector, a representative of EBCO (European Bureau for Conscientious Objection) and War Resisters’ International, as well as a member of the Executive of the international pacifist network World Beyond War. He is Ukrainian, lives in Ukraine and is executive secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement.

He is a staunch nonviolent pacifist against the use of weapons and of war as a means of conflict resolution.

Because of his positions he has been repeatedly arrested and charged with high treason for being conscientious objector and “deserter.”

Last Feb. 25 [2023], in front of the Lodi Prefecture, his letter was publicly read during an event of the November 5th Coordination for Peace in Lodi.

Here is the text :

“Dear friends,

I bring you greetings from Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and thank you for taking to the streets against this war, which is continuing to perpetuate this bloodshed.

A few days ago marked the closing of a year of war. A year during which my city, my beautiful city Kiev, was bombed many times: my house was shaking from the nearby explosions. A terrible feeling.

Now I know what the people of Donetsk and Luhansk have gone through during the past years: the Ukrainian army has been shelling their cities since 2014.

Not only that: forced mobilization-this iron curtain that prevents me from participating in your demonstration, since all men from 18 to 60 cannot leave the country because they are forced to participate in the war-and similar deprivations of individual freedoms, is what people in East Ukraine have been experiencing for a good nine years.

I think people who are used to living in democratic countries cannot even conceive what it is like to live in these horrible conditions; but today we are living through this war, fueled by our warmongering politicians who have the support of politicians in Western countries, just as Russian warmongering politicians have the support of politicians in other countries.

This is simply wrong.

We should end the war now.

We should support peace and understand that war is a crime against humanity, and act together to remove the roots that lead to wars. This requires the implementation of the right to refuse to kill and evade conscription, as guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; it is also necessary to call for an immediate ceasefire and subsequent peace negotiations.

We must cultivate a culture of peace through peace journalism, education, art and creative work that make our future better. Because on the table is not the holding of something as archaic as state sovereignty, but rather the very holding of human civilization: our ability to resolve conflicts without resolving to violence, the ability to preserve human dignity; [the ability] of being peaceful people, and not savage beasts.

We must seek reconciliation, not total victory, not destruction of the enemy — that notion of enemy is a false notion, created to distort reality and [to create a] scapegoat.

We must seek peace, build peace.

Thank you for your commitment on behalf of all sensible Ukrainians.

I love you, I support you: the whole Ukrainian peace movement supports you.

Greetings to Italy: I wish you peace and happiness.”