To Defenders of Freedom

Writer Volodymyr Vakulenko was killed during the occupation of Izium

Volodymyr Vakulenko was an author of children’s books, a poet and translator. A participant of the Revolution of Dignity, a volunteer. A father. A Ukrainian – one of the hundreds of those whose bodies have been identified in the mass graves in the Kharkiv region after it was liberated from the Russian occupation in September 2022. 

The last time Vakulenko’s friends heard from him was in early March 2022, as heavy fighting was going on around Kharkiv, and Izium was about to be occupied by the invading army. Since then, the author was kidnapped and taken hostage by Russians. 

The family had no further information about Volodymyr’s fate until November 2022 when the forensic investigation on the sites of the mass burials in the liberated Izium confirmed the writer had been shot, and probably tortured. 

After the news of the author’s death, the Lviv-based Old Lion Publishing House announced it would re-publish his “Daddy’s Book” from 2014 – a merry collection of poems Volodymyr wrote for his son. 

Vakulenko’s last posts on his Facebook page are from March 3, 2022. After describing the latest bombing of Izium, and the ongoing local effort to help the territorial defense units, he wraps the chilling account up with “That’s it for now, we’re holding on. Everything will be Ukraine! We will win!”

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