President Volodymyr Zelensky has given posthumous awards to four Ukrainian cultural figures, Victoria Amelina, Maksym Kryvtsov, Vasyl Kukharskyi, and Volodymyr Vakulenko, according to a decree published on Jan. 23.
All four were killed by Russian forces during Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Amelina was a writer but became a war crimes researcher after the start of the full-scale invasion.
In this role, she raised international awareness of the death of Vakulenko, a celebrated children's literature writer who was kidnapped in the spring of 2022 by Russian forces occupying his village in Kharkiv Oblast.
Vakulenko's body was identified on Nov. 28, 2022, after being found in a mass grave in a forest near Izium. He was 49 years old when he was killed.
Amelina was critically injured in a Russian missile strike on a restaurant in Kramatorsk and died on July 1, 2023, aged 37.
Kryvtsov was a poet and public figure who would have turned 34 on Jan. 22 but was killed on Jan. 7 while fighting on the front line.
After participating in the EuroMaidan Revolution of 2013-2014, he joined Ukraine's Armed Forces as a volunteer after Russia started the war in Ukraine's Donbas.
In 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kryvtsov returned to the front line and continued writing.
Kukharskyi, an actor in theater and film, joined Ukraine's Armed Forces shortly after Russia's full-scale invasion began in 2022. He died on Dec. 7, aged 42, having been severely injured at the front in September.