Past Work

What's Going On

Ukrainian activists are working to defend human rights, challenge corruption, and oppose the Russian government's brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Where It's Happening

What We're Doing

We're working with civil society groups to hold abusive and corrupt actors to account, including by advocating for targeted sanctions and criminal prosecution.

Join the Work

Join our civil society coalition to learn about and advocate for targeted sanctions.


Russian Forces Attack Medical Facilities Across Ukraine

By Brian Dooley Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine: I’m with Mike Breen of Human Rights First, about ten miles from the Russian border in the northeastern villages of Tsyrkuny and Ruski Tyshky.…


Civilians Organize to Resist Russian Occupation in Ukraine

By Brian Dooley  KYIV, Ukraine — Just after the Second World War, French Resistance fighter Agnes Humbert published an account of how she had survived Nazi occupation and imprisonment. It’s…


Human Rights First Condemns Renewed Russian Invasion of Ukraine, Calls for Targeted Sanctions on Corrupt and Abusive Officials

WASHINGTON D.C. – In response to the Russian government’s decision to recognize two regions of Ukraine as independent states, Human Rights First condemned Russia’s dangerous actions as a deepening and…


Human Rights First Expresses Solidarity with Ukrainian People

WASHINGTON D.C. – In response to the Russian government’s declaration of war on Ukraine, Human Rights First called for international solidarity with the Ukrainian people. “We are appalled by the…


From Magnitsky to the Mothers of Mariupol

Congress Must Stand with Victims and Strengthen the Global Magnitsky Act By Mike Breen and Mike Abramowitz In recent weeks, the world has once again been confronted with the horrifying reality of war…


Listening to Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ukraine

No-one knows how many war crimes have been committed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, or how many were committed since Russia’s 2014 invasion of the eastern part…


A Taste of Normal Life in a Ukrainian City at War

KHARKIV — Finding a slice of normalcy during war is a strong instinct for many people. Activists all over the world stress the importance of clinging onto shreds of ordinariness during…


Leading Rights Activist Joins Ukraine’s Army and is Taken Prisoner

By Brian Dooley It’s an agonizing decision for human rights defenders: is there a point where they switch from peaceful resistance to take up arms? For some defenders who are…


“There is a Shortage of Body Bags”

By Brian Dooley On the first night of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Human Rights Defender Mila Yankina from the NGO ZMINA spoke to me from a bomb shelter…


U.S. Should Spell Out How It Will Help Activists Needing to Flee Ukraine

By Brian Dooley The U.S. State Department assures us that “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to putting human rights and democratic principles at the center of our foreign policy,” and…


Targeted Sanctions on Corrupt and Abusive Russian Officials: What Civil Society is Calling For

By Gita Howard, Adam Keith Human Rights First has called for the United States and other governments to immediately impose targeted Global Magnitsky sanctions on corrupt and abusive Russian officials.…


Human Rights Activists in Ukraine Call for Swift Response

By Brian Dooley Human rights activists in Ukraine are telling Human Rights First about the immediate impact on them of the Russian invasion, and what they want from the United…