Conferences / debates / testimonies

Death of Ihor Kozlovsky

Ihor Kozlovsky, a Ukrainian historian and researcher in religious studies, died of a heart attack on 6 September 2023 in Kyiv.

Kozlovsky was 69 years old. He was originally from the Donetsk region. Even after the Russian invasion in 2014, he never left his home town. On 27 January 2016, militants from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic took him prisoner because of his pro-Ukrainian stance. Kozlovsky remained in captivity for 700 days, where he was subjected to numerous tortures. He was released in a prisoner exchange on 27 December 2017.

After his return to Ukraine, he worked in Kyiv in the Religious Studies Department of the Institute of Philosophy of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences.

Invited in October 2021 by our association “Ad pacem servandam – For Peace and Against War”, Ihor Kozlovsky travelled to France, Luxembourg and Germany to bear personal witness to Russian war crimes against civilians in Ukraine. He gave several interviews to German, Luxembourg and French journalists.

You can watch the lecture Ihor Kozlovsky gave in Mont-Saint-Martin (F) on 16 October 2021 by clicking on the following link:

War in Ukraine. 700 days of captivity and torture. Ihor Kozlovsky testifies

Support actions for Ukraine

Interview with Ms Tetyana PONOMARENKO, Medical director of the psychiatric clinic in VORZEL (Kyiv region), conducted on 2 July 2023 by Ms. Natalya PANTALEONI, Vice-President of “Ad Pacem servandam – For Peace & Against War”

Ms. Ponomarenko, what were the tasks and the types of treatments conducted in the psychiatric hospital before the full-scale invasion that started on 24 February 2022? 

Since its foundation, the psychiatric hospital №2 in Vorzel has had the task of meeting the needs of the population from Kyiv and Kyiv region in terms of psychiatric treatment and care. The hospital has eight departments, the most important of which are: for children and adolescents, people with Down’s syndrome, autistic people, people with psycho-behavioural disorders and those with delays in mental development. One unit is dedicated to helping people who are addicted to alcohol.  

How many people from war zones traumatised by the war are being treated in this clinic at the moment? How have these tasks changed since the beginning of the war? How many employees and volunteers work there?

Since 2017, the hospital has specialised in offering help to veterans who have suffered psychological damage from the military actions in the Donbas region. The majority of patients suffer from traumas caused by the Russian military aggression. They are soldiers who fought at the front and who could not cope with the terrible reality of war: they had to kill people or experience the death of friends without being able to prevent it. Among the patients, there are soldiers who feel forced by society to go to war, while others are spared the war at the front. Some soldiers have experienced imprisonment and torture, and others whose family members have been victims of sexual violence. Finally, there are patients who, due to their inability to cope with trauma themselves, plunge into drug and alcohol addictions. These people mainly suffer from deep depression, and anxiety and have psychosomatic complaints.

The hospital can accommodate a maximum of 300 patients and about 45 to 50 should be able to be treated as outpatients, i.e. they come during the day and spend the night at home. The hospital currently has 16 doctors, 34 nurses and 16 employees (secretaries, cooks, ambulance drivers, workers, cleaning service). Nowadays, the staff is overworked and the hospital is clearly understaffed, as it accommodates more patients than the infrastructure can provide for. When the Russian full-scale invasion started in February 2022, the hospital admitted 62 patients from the Kharkiv Psychiatric Hospital. They had to be evacuated from Kharkiv. As the Kharkiv Psychiatric Hospital has not reopened after the Russian attack on the city, all patients remain in Vorzel for the time being. For the weekend, only one psychiatrist is on duty for all 300 patients. 

However, volunteers come to the hospital to offer their help. They are mostly psychology and medical students who are not allowed to take responsibility for treatment, and the opportunities for deployment are therefore limited. There was a children’s ward in the hospital until the beginning of the full-scale invasion. It is now closed. 

There are no children in the hospital at the moment, as parents prefer to keep their children with the family, or they come by as outpatients.

The members of a dog club from Kyiv come regularly with their dogs to provide canistherapy for the patients.

What are the main illnesses and mental disorders of the civilian patients and the soldiers who come here from the front?

We, executive workers, are prohibited by law from publishing the exact statistical data of our patients. But it is a fact that our hospital has specialised in the treatment of war veterans since 2015. 

With what expectations did these people sign up for the war? Are these hopes false given what awaits the soldiers there? 

Each person’s personal story is different. Many patriots signed up for the war to defend their country. Only, the reality that awaits the soldiers at the front is much crueller than they could have imagined. 

Were these men and women prepared for war?

No, in general, you can say that people were not prepared for war at all. Until the day of the Russian full-scale invasion, no one really believed that such a thing was possible. The shock among the Ukrainians was all the greater.

Does this clinic have enough trained staff to treat all the patients?

There is a lack of staff, especially staff trained in the field of war trauma. Some of the counsellors suffer from burnout themselves. There is also a lack of medicines; the government-guaranteed quotas have been reduced, although the hospital needs many more medicines during the time of war. 

What do these men and women do after therapy?

The civilian patients return to civilian society after treatment. Unfortunately, the number of relapses is high. This has to do with the fact that war continues and there are loud air raid alarms almost every day. Tragic news reaches people every day. After their treatment, most soldiers return to the front. 

 What material and personnel challenges does the clinic face today? What is lacking above all?

Above all, there is a lack of medicines and the necessary medical and material equipment. During the Russian occupation, all computers and medical equipment were either stolen or destroyed. The heating system was severely damaged. Even ladles and cutlery from the kitchen were stolen. The medical encyclopaedias in the director’s office were burnt. Several departments of the hospital are in dire need of renovation. Many rooms where windows and doors were ripped out during the occupation have had snow and rain falling inside, so the floors are damaged and mould has grown in many places. These need to be replaced urgently. The small greenhouse where the patients grew vegetables, which is also part of the treatment, was destroyed.

Does the clinic receive aid from abroad? How much of the clinic’s needs are covered by this aid?

First, Ukrainian citizens helped after the liberation of Vorzel and the return of the inmates to the hospital. Some farmers from the region bring dairy products and food. Sports clubs from Kyiv helped to clean and, as far as possible, repair the buildings after the occupation. 

A German organisation made a donation to buy medicines. These should last until the end of 2023. But the real needs have increased so rapidly that these aid packages were used up in the course of only 3 months.

When Ms. Pantaleoni asked if “Ad Pacem” could help right away with a donation for the purchase of medicines, tears came to the director’s eyes. She confessed that at the moment, in many areas, the clinic only had medicines available until the end of the current week. She gratefully accepted the offer for the immediate purchase of a €1000 aid package (to be seen on the website under the heading “Russia’s war on Ukraine”, 3 July 2023).

Mrs Tetyana Ponomarenko with Natalya Pantaleoni and our representative in Ucraine Anatoly Kmetko.

Russia’s war against Ukraine, Support actions for Ukraine

1 September 2023: The psychiatric hospital in Vorzel (Kyiv region) has received medicines for the treatment of war victims. These medicines were purchased with the money that our Ad Pacem association received in August in Italy, during the two benefit concerts at Serra Sant’Abbondio and Pergola and the appeal for donations at the Franciscan convent of Ostra Vetere.

Russia’s war against Ukraine, Support actions for Ukraine

Since March 2023, Ad Pacem has been supporting the Misto Dobra (City of Goodness) children’s home in Chernivtsi (Western Ukraine), where the centre accommodates 400 war refugees, including 150 children from orphanages. They are children from birth to 7 years old. Since the beginning of the war, mothers with children from the war zones have also been taken in. In addition, three children’s homes from Odessa and Mykolaiv were evacuated there. Until mid-May 2023, 10 children’s beds, 10 children’s commodes with changing tables, 5 air purifiers and a Kärcher steam cleaner were financed.


Newsletter 25

Dear friends,

Visiting museums, exhibitions and places of remembrance of past wars is one of the activities of our Ad Pacem association. Because of the Covid period and our commitment to Ukrainian refugees in 2022, following the Russian war of aggression, we have temporarily suspended these activities.

Bastogne War Museum

On Saturday 17 June, we invite you to visit the Bastogne War Museum.
The guided tour will start at the Museum at 9am and finish, for the first part, at around 12.30pm. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity to visit the Museum bookshop and have a coffee at the Bistrot de la Paix. Afterwards, we’ll have a picnic with our packed lunches in an area of the museum, with one drink per person. At around 1.30pm, we’ll continue with a second half-hour outing a few kilometres from the museum.
At around 2.30pm we’ll start our return journey home.
Admission will cost €20 for adults, and our association will pay the entrance fees for young people under 16.
For those who would like to carpool, please let us know by 15 June on [email protected] if you are one of us, have a car or would like to be driven to Bastogne.
Our secretary will contact you to organise car pooling from the various meeting points.

Bike for climate  bike for peace

I’d like to take this opportunity to announce our next Bike for climate event on Saturday 15 July from 10am to around 5pm on the cycle paths of southern Luxembourg.
Cycling is good for your health, for the climate and for peace!
So don’t hesitate to save the date and join us!
You can already register by emailing [email protected]. We’ll be sending you more information about the tour itself by email in early July.

Peace greetings!

Claude Pantaleoni

Bike for climate – bike for peace

4th Bike for climate – Bike for peace

On Saturday morning, 20 May 2023, eight of us had arranged to meet at Bettembourg station for a 46 km bike ride on the cycle paths in the south of Luxembourg.

We first cycled through Peppange (past the former Benedictine convent) and Hellange, then crossed the French border in the middle of fields and discovered the villages of Hagen and Évrange on our way, as well as the monuments to the victims of the two world wars. In Évrange, we paused to visit the neo-Gothic church dedicated to Saint Albin, which is open to the public, and to admire the stained glass windows inside, two of which have war and peace as their theme. (The church was partially destroyed during the Second World War and restored after the war) .

After crossing the border again, we stopped in Aspelt near the Baroque castle and the bronze statue of Peter of Aspelt (1240-1320, Elector and Archbishop of Mainz), erected in his honour in 2021 on the square in front of the church. The sculpture in question, however, left us rather perplexed due to the artistic choices: Peter von Aspelt is namely depicted without any episcopal insignia and has a strangely androgynous appearance.

The lunch break took place in Dalheim at the foot of the Eagle Monument. This is a column about ten metres high, with a Roman eagle perched on top of a globe. This monument was erected in 1855 by the “Société archéologique luxembourgeoise” to commemorate the presence of the Romans in Dalheim, in particular the Vicus Ricciacum. Just a few steps away from this site, we were also able to visit the Gallo-Roman theatre on our way down to Dalheim. This ancient amphitheatre, which could seat about 3,500 spectators, probably dates from the 2nd century.

We then drove back via Hassel, Alzingen and Hesperange, where we had a last break at the pond in the middle of the city park. At 4.30 p.m., our group arrived back at the car park at Bettemburg station, the end point of this cycle tour, in ideal weather conditions.

Bike for climate – bike for peace

3rd Bike for climate – bike for peace

29 April 2023

Twelve members of the Ad Pacem association met in the middle of the morning on Saturday 29 April 2023 on the car park of the railway station in Bettembourg (L) for a bike ride. After a rainy and cold start to the spring, this bike ride provided hours of fresh air from the meadows and fields.

Energy dependency
The association supports cycling, also in view of the current wars, which are often wars for the control of oil and gas fields or for the dependence of entire populations who do not have them.

Oil and gas energies are powerful levers of power in the hands of certain belligerent states, as is the case of Russia, which has long been a major supplier of these energies to Europe and the Ukraine.

It is true that cycling is only partly a way out of these energy dependencies. But it symbolises the ecological transition to renewable and healthy energy sources for humans.

Dead miners for the development of the country
After passing through Dudelange-Burange and Budersberg, Kayl, Tétange and Rumelange with its Mining Museum, the group took a lunch break at the place called “Léiffrächen”, at the foot of the National Miners’ Monument which commemorates the very many people who died in the mines of Luxembourg from the second half of the 18th century until the 1950s. It should be remembered that several young people between 13 and 15 years of age were among the victims of dangerous work in the mines.

The tour continued with the descent to the Ellergrond, a nature reserve near the French border, to Esch-sur-Alzette. The group then took the new footbridge of the cycle path that leads to the heart of the Belval site. After a short break, the group continued towards Lallange, Schifflange, Huncherange to arrive at the car park of the station of Bettembourg, terminus of the tour, around 4 pm.

Cycle paths without cyclists
With this cycling day, the association reminds all political leaders that cycling must be politically encouraged among the population. During the whole day, the participants hardly met any other cycling fans on the cycle paths, which were all in perfect condition.