Ukrainian artist refuses to accept prestigious award with Russian writer

Ukrainian illustrator Serhii Maidukov, who collaborates with such publications as The New Yorker, The Guardian and Die Zeit, refused to personally receive the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize for 2023 due to the fact that it was also decided to award it to Russian writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya.

Maidukov in a letter to the prize committee.

“It was a surprise to me that I was chosen; I received a letter about a month ago. At first, I said that I would come another time, but in further correspondence I wrote that I would not come at all. I want to put most of the money in Monobank [Ukrainian online bank], where I am saving up for a vehicle for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the artist said.

Ukrainian Maidukov was supposed to receive the Remarque Peace Prize, which is a special prize awarded by the German city of Osnabrück. Ulitskaya was recognised as the winner of the prize in 2023, and is due to receive the award on 22 June, on the day of the 125th anniversary of the birth of one of Germany’s most famous writers.

Susanne Menzel-Riedl, the head of the jury for the prize, said that this year’s prize should be interpreted as a sign of hope for reconciliation: “The language of humanity, which also unites the people of warring states, should have the last word. The violence of war must not silence the language of literature and art.”

“That is why we were hoping to invite a writer from Russia and an artist from Ukraine to Osnabrück to honour them with the Remarque Peace Prize and the special prize,” added Katharina Pötter, vice chair of the jury.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrii Melnyk has addressed to the leadership of the jury of the prize:

“Dear German friends, especially those from the peace city of Osnabrück, when will you finally realize that it is much too early to reconcile Ukrainians with Russians, as long as russian attackers are killing, raping, torturing, abducting, and shelling us day and night?”

The Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize is awarded by the German city of Osnabrück, where the famous writer was born. The prize has been presented every two years since 1991. In 2023, the prize will be awarded for the sixteenth time. Previous winners of the Remarque Prize have included Svetlana Alexievich, Ali Ahmad Said Esber, Lev Kopelev and others. In 2005, Yurii Andrukhovych received the special prize.

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