Elvira Schemur, a prominent LGBTQ+ activist in Ukraine, was killed by a Russian airstrike in Kharkiv earlier this month.
The 21-year-old was a law student and activist who volunteered with both Kharkiv Pride and Kyiv Pride.
Maksym Eristavi, a board member at the latter organisation, confirmed news of her death on 17 March.
“This is Elvira Schemur,” the activist wrote on Twitter alongside images of her.
“A 21-yo law student, civil society activist, a kickass volunteer at our @KharkivPride and @KyivPride fams. the pride of young Ukraine.”
He explained that she was “killed by a Russian bombing of Kharkiv” and told the Washington Blade that she was “volunteering inside” a building in the city when it was hit by a Russian missile.
this is elvira schemur,
killed by russian bombing of kharkiv.
rest in power elvira
— maksym.eristavi 🇺🇦🏳️🌈 (@MaximEristavi) March 17, 2022
“Elvira inspired folks to follow her, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in defense of freedom and equality,” Eristavi wrote in a follow up tweet. “She was one of the first pride volunteers to join the Kharkiv regional defense. she was brave and courageous. patriot and a hero.”
KharkivPride also posted a tribute to Schemur on 18 March.
“Yesterday, we received a deeply tragic notification of the death of our volunteer Elya Shchemur,” they wrote.
“Elya was an activist and a patriot: she participated in all possible actions and democratic events of Kharkiv.”
For months, Western officials reported that Russia was planning an invasion of Ukraine that could begin at any moment – something Vladimir Putin adamantly denied.
In the early hours of 24 February, however, Ukrainian officials stated that Russia had launched an all-out assault on the country, with troops crossing the border – leaving LGBTQ+ people fearful for what the future could hold.
Yesterday, we received a deeply tragic notification of the death of our volunteer Elya Shchemur.
Elya was an activist and a patriot: she participated in all possible actions and democratic events of Kharkiv.
— KharkivPride / Sphere NGO (@KharkivPride) March 18, 2022