Oleksandra Matviichuk

Ukrainian human rights activist

Oleksandra Vyacheslavivna Matviichuk (Ukrainian: Олександра В’ячеславівна Матвійчук) (born 8 October 1983) is a Ukrainian human rights lawyer and civil society leader based in Kyiv. She heads the non-profit organization Centre for Civil Liberties, which was the recipient of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, and is an active campaigner for democratic reforms in her country and the OSCE region.

Oleksandra Matviichuk in 2022


  • We live in very dramatic times, and political leaders of the world have to take historical responsibility because for decades, I’ve seen that political leaders behave like they believe the problems we face will vanish. But the truth is that these problems will not vanish. They have to take responsibility and to solve these problems for the next generation and not think only about the electoral period or the future of their own parties.
  • We live in a very interconnected worked and only spreading freedom can make our world safer. And if political leaders will not take this historical responsibility, people can take this historical responsibility. All of my experience as a human rights defender has showed me that ordinary people have much greater impact than they can even imagine. And massive mobilization of ordinary people around the world can change the world’s history much more quickly than any UN intervention.
  • It’s very dangerous to live in the world where your security depends not on the rule of law but on whether your country is a part of a military bloc. That’s a dangerous line of development for humankind.
  • I hope that we will be able to overcome the rage, because sooner or later the war will finish, and we will have to continue building a civilized world. Maybe, in such a crisis, you go beyond some borders like nationality or region, because we are humans. We see ourselves now like people who are fighting for freedom, for human values. For us it doesn’t matter if you are Ukrainians or not. We closely cooperate with Russian human-rights defenders, with Belarusian human-rights defenders. We understand their willingness to help is because we are all human.
  • Everything the UN stands for is at stake in Ukraine. If Putin is allowed to succeed, a new world will be born, in which larger states will once again be able to invade their neighbors with impunity. A brief period in human history, when the settled sovereign will of the people served as the basis for government, will end. Neo-imperial revisionist powers will create “spheres of influence” using economic pressure, political capture, disinformation, and military coercion to turn smaller neighbors into vassals. A world that is more open, connected, and safer will give way to one that is more closed, fragmented, and violent.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to all people in Ukraine who are currently fighting for freedom in all its senses. For the freedom to be a free and independent state. For the freedom to develop the Ukrainian language and culture. For the freedom to have one’s own democratic choice and to build a country in which the rights of every person are protected, the government is accountable, the courts are independent, and the police do not beat peaceful student demonstrations.
  • This story is about resistance to common evil, about the fact that freedom has no borders, and the values ​​of human rights are universal. That human rights defenders build invisible horizontal connections in their societies to assert freedom and protect people in our part of the world, in which a monster is once again trying to rule. And who will lose sooner or later. And then peace will come. In no way should this award sound like an old narrative about fraternal nations. This story is about something else. This story is about the motto that I heard from my teacher, dissident and philosopher Yevhen Sverstyuk – “For our freedom and yours”
  • I don’t know what is in store for me or my family or my colleagues or my friends. But I know for sure that Ukraine will resist because we are fighting for our country, for our dignity, for our people, for our values. Russia tried to return us to the past which does not exist at all. We will never be a part of a restored Soviet Union. Putin will lose sooner or later.
  • First of all, I know Ukraine’s history. We have been fighting for freedom for hundreds of years, and we will never give up. Second, I know the Ukrainian people. Putin underestimated us, and so did the West.
  • My first language was Russian. I switched to the Ukrainian language in school when I started to learn Ukrainian history and Ukrainian literature. I suddenly understood that my parents spoke Russian not because it was their choice but because they had been forced into it.
  • So, in this war, we are fighting for freedom in all senses: the freedom to be an independent state, not a colony of Russia; the freedom to be Ukrainians, to have our own language and culture, as other nations of the world do; the freedom to have a democratic choice — a chance to build a country where the judiciary is independent, human rights are protected, the government is accountable, and the police serve the people.
  • The problem of the Russian nation is that Russians have this imperialistic code, as a driver of their existence. I wish Russians could overcome this side of their nature. It’s a necessity, if Russians are to be happy and successful.
  • This award [Nobel Peace Prize] have two dimensions. The first dimension is connecting with award to not only to Ukrainian human rights organisation, Center for Civil Liberties, but to the whole Ukrainian people who are fighting for freedom in all senses. And second dimension is award for human rights defenders who, regardless of their authoritarian regimes, tries to build horizontal ties between each other in order to protect freedom and human rights in our part of the world where Russia try to occupy new territories.
  • There are people who will fight for you, who will fight for your rights, who will never leave you alone. And this understanding provides a coverage to continue the fight. And let my lessons learn from this story is that in many part of the world, human rights defenders, they’re not working in human rights field. They’re fighting for human rights. And sometimes because of the size of challenges this fight, it seems that they have no sense. But we have to continue our fight honestly, and result will unexpectedly be achieved.
  • Women are currently represented in all areas of the country’s defence. Women serve in the Ukrainian army. Women have joined territorial defence units. Women take important political decisions. Women provide medical care. Women document Russian war crimes. You can see a significant number of women in every field of the social resistance to this invasion. At least in times of war, we suddenly seem to have gender equality in Ukraine. Women are currently at the forefront of the battle, equal to men.
  • I see from the general mood in the country that Ukrainians share the dream to rebuild our country and our destroyed cities together. They are committed to the successful democratic transformation of our country after the war. This dream encourages all of us to continue our struggle.

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