(Event) Roma in Ukraine – Fighters for Democracy, Human Rights and Justice

Roma consider themselves as an integral part of Ukrainian society, the diversity of which presents a unique cluster of European culture that has to be safeguarded and promoted. Roma in Ukraine have their own exclusive cultural heritage that have been safeguarded internally by the communities for centuries despite persecution, genocides and wars or globalization or commercialization.


Roma took an active role in historical events, particularly during WWII when many Roma fought against Nazi-Germany. On the other hand, ten thousands of Roma became victims of the racial persecution and were killed in extermination and concentration camps or in random mass-shootings. In the contemporary context of the full-scale invasion of Russia, Roma in Ukraine take again an active position as citizens of Ukraine. Many Roma are fighting in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and contribute in many different ways to the defense and reconstruction of Ukraine despite the existing antigypsyism.


Through cultural diplomacy we foster recognition and appreciation of the Roma contribution in defending Ukraine against the full-scale invasion, which should be known for the broader public.


The event “Roma in Ukraine – Fighters for Democracy, Human Rights and Justice” intends to make these facts more known and contribute to challenge the prejudices and stereotypes about Roma. The event with an exhibition, film screening and a discussion will demonstrate the diversity of Roma and their contributions to democracy, human rights and justice. The event should raise awareness among decision-makers and within societies and foster the recognition of the Roma communities.

Event Agenda


18:00 – 18:20 | Welcome Speeches

  • E. Oleksii Makeiev, Ambassador of Ukraine in Germany  
  • Romani Rose, Chairman Central Council of German Sinti and Roma
  • Hanna Radziejowska, Director Pilecki Institute Berlin

18:20 – 18:40 | Opening of the exhibition “Me Ukrainatar”  


The exhibition expands the vision of the Roma identity from the perspective of Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Maksymov and displays his reality as a true image of the communities – without stereotypes and prejudices. Through the visuality of the analogue collage technique, the author proposes to get acquainted with the Roma who have made an influential input to Ukrainian society, contributing to the development of culture, medicine, science and social movement.

  • Nataliia Tomenko, ARCA, Introduction
  • Oleksandr Maksymov, Artist vision speech

18:40 – 19:00 | Event Reception 


19:00 – 20:00 | Panel discussion: Roma as Fighters for Democracy, Human Rights and Justice. WWII and the war of Russia against Ukraine since 2014


The panel discussion should demonstrate that Roma despite persecution and genocide were or are not victims only, but active fighters for democracy, human rights and justice and contributed over centuries to Ukraine. Thereby, a focus should be put on the current full-scale invasion of Russia and the role of Roma in World War II as well as on the need to promote and preserve Romani heritage in Ukraine.

  • Maksym Eristavi, journalist and expert in Russian colonialism studies
  • Pierre Chopinaud, writer, political scientist and strategy advisor
  • Artur Zolotarenko, expert working at the Babyn Yar Museum
  • Janush Panchenko, ethnographer and linguist, Romano Than  
  • Nataliia Tomenko, expert on Roma Cultural Heritage in Ukraine

Ms. Sarah Reinke, Society for Threatened People;

Mr. Stephan Müller, Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.


20:00 – 22:00 | Film screening “Named Voices”


A documentary about the genocide of Roma in the 1940s and how the Roma communities live under the Russian-Ukrainian war today. Killings in genocides or wars doesn’t only exterminate people. Sometimes nothing remains of the killed persons. No memories, no things, no documents, no names. Not even graves where descendants could go and remember. But are there any descendants?


The documentary combines stories of Roma who remember the horrors they faced during the occupation of Ukraine by the German Nazis. In addition, Roma witnesses of our time tell their stories about how their families went through persecution, harassment and discrimination.

  • Volodymyr Yakovenko, ARCA, Introduction
  • Natalia Vainilovych, production director speech



Organizers: Pilecki Institute Berlin, Youth Agency for the Advocacy of Roma Culture in Ukraine “ARCA”, Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Society for Threatened Peoples Germany


Partners: Vitsche e.V, European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC)

The event is supported by: Federal Foreign Office Germany, Rroma Foundation Switzerland