Roman Ratushnyi

by George Bondarenko from Buffalo Grove, Illinois in United States

            On June 9, 2022, Roman Ratushnyi, a Ukrainian activist and journalist, was killed, while fighting against the Russian army near the city of Izium. He was 24 years old. As Mariia Khromykh, another Ukrainian activist, has said, “Roman participated in all the protests about fighting for justice…It’s hard to accept the reality where this absolutely wicked and great human is gone. He was a tremendous example and an inspiration for a big generation of Ukrainians, especially the young ones.”

            Roman was born on July 5, 1997. In 2014, Roman participated in the Revolution of Dignity, the protests against the rule of pro-Russian dictator Victor Yanukovich, also known as Maidan. Roman was 17 back then. For Ratushnyi, the revolution symbolized dramatic changes inside his country, which formed his values and sense of justice. As Roman said, “Without the Maidan, without the demonstration of real resistance to the authorities, these things would not exist. Now I feel completely free in this country. And I feel this country is my own.” Roman became a law student, following his future career in investigative journalism.

            In 2019, Roman started a campaign against building an apartment complex in the nature reserve area, called Protasiv Yar. It was clear that one of the richest Ukrainian oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoiskyi, made a deal with the authorities, which made the building possible. Not only did Ratushnyi make this case public, but he also started a series of peaceful demonstrations against it. As a result, he was arrested and accused of vandalism. However, the case gained so much recognition that the authorities would not be able to incarcerate Roman without further complications, thus he was sent free. Eventually, the campaign achieved its mission and the building in Protasiv Yar was stopped. Yet it happened after Roman’s death.

            When the Russian full-stack invasion of Ukraine started, Roman joined the military immediately. He formed the battalion called “Kholodnyy Yar”, which consisted mostly of his colleagues. On July 9th, 2022, Roman died, fighting for the Ukrainian city Izyum, occupied by Russia. He was a member of a reconnaissance group and died on a combat mission. Vakhtang Kipiani, the editor of a Ukrainian newspaper, commented on his death, “Yesterday, like many, I cried. Roman Ratushnyi was my personal hope for change in the city and the country. The Russians killed this hope.”

            For me, Roman Ratushnyi represents the fight against injustice. He actively participated in the revolution when he was only 17 years old, proving that youth does have its voice in politics and the life of the country. He focused his career on opposing injustice within his country. He demonstrated the magnitude of peaceful protest in the combat against oligarchs, who have authority, the loyalty of police, and lobbyists in the parliament, serving as an inspiration and a symbol of change for millions of Ukrainians, especially for the younger ones. When Ukraine faced an existential threat of Russian invasion, Roman immediately joined the army and focused his efforts on fighting the bigger enemy. He was a leader that I admired. I sincerely hope that Roman and his business will never be forgotten.

Page created on 4/29/2024 11:40:03 PM

Last edited 5/8/2024 3:24:37 PM

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