Voiny: creating traditions to commemorate Ukraine’s fallen heroes

This social project aimed at creating the tradition of commemoration and thanking the heroes who defend Ukraine against Russian aggression. The illegal occupation of Crimea in March 2014 was Russia’s first step to undermine the independence of the new Ukraine. Courageous Ukrainian soldiers are still resisting the invasion of the eastern part of our country. The war has been ongoing for four years now, leaving thousands of families without fathers, brothers and sons. For the rest of Ukraine, peaceful life goes on, and the memory of fallen soldiers must never be allowed to fade. Unlike Israel, the United States or Great Britain, Ukraine has not yet created national traditions of commemorating its fallen heroes.


Republic, together with partners, initiated the project Voїny. The project involves representatives of civil society, government institutions, socially responsible businesses, and legal experts. Voїny calls to create a system for commemoration of fallen soldiers as well as engage people to thank the ATO soldiers who still defend the new democratic Ukraine. (Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone - armed conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine which started in April 2014). In our project we especially focused on children and youth, because they are the ones who will carry on the tradition of commemorating fallen soldiers.

The first phase of the campaign was ongoing for three months. The project was launched on a pro bono budget.

We asked people all over Ukraine to look for existing places of commemoration - at schools, city councils, in public parks - and put them on Google Maps. Together we created the first national map of commemoration sites and encouraged people to visit them on Day of Defender of Ukraine through a Facebook campaign.

For Day of Defender of Ukraine, we reminded Ukrainians about those came to their defense but did not come back home. And about their families. In the school class of 8-year-old Bohdan whose father died in the war, we shot a video asking his classmates what being a hero means to them. And it went viral.


In the campaign dedicated to the Day of Defender of Ukraine, we used geographic targeting to show Facebook users from every Ukrainian region the names of fallen soldiers from their city or town. Thus, we reminded people that fallen heroes were in fact their neighbours.


To bring the issue of commemoration to the government level and impact policy-making, we organized a conference together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine. Attended by veterans, key stakeholders from the government, civil society, and media, it was the first public discussion on this topic since the invasion started in 2014. High-ranking diplomats from the embassies of the USA and Great Britain shared their experience to help Ukraine shape its traditions of commemoration.   


• The first public discussion on this topic since the invasion started in 2014, the conference Honor the Heroes was held on the 17th of November 201
• A brochure for local authorities Methodical recommendations for honoring the memory of fallen soldiers was developed and given to representatives of each region.
• The unique interactive map Memorials with 520 places of commemoration across Ukraine was created on our project web page.
• The campaign reached 6 900 000 Facebook users.
The viral video “Vshanuy” reached over 4 826 788 people.
Total campaign reach via broadcast media was about: 6 300 000