Maria Kurinna

Maria Kurinna

international advocacy officer


Maria Kurinna is a Ukrainian human rights defender, a survivor of Russian occupation in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine in 2014. Activist of Luhansk pro-Ukrainian movement. Maria and her family faced life threats in 2014. Kurinna became a women and child rights expert, with a focus on the conflict-affected population and internally displaced persons.

Kurinna is a feminist with a background in diplomacy, and protecting IDPs and refugees, she has a strong record of international advocacy experience, advocacy campaigns promoting the rights of women and girls in Ukraine, IDP and CAP rights in the context of Russian aggression. Maria is an experienced advocate at the UN HRC, UN OHCHR, UN GA, Committee on the Rights of the Child, CEDAW, CoE, European Parliament, and world capitals.

Kurinna became a public servant in 2017 and was appointed the head of the consular department in the Embassy of Ukraine in Japan, where she focused her attention on the assistance of CAP from Crimea and Donbas, as well as survivors of gender-based violence. Maria also promoted Ukrainian cultural diplomacy and economy in Japan.

Kurinna was working in Vostok-SOS charitable foundation responsible for international relations and participating in contact line missions to eastern Ukraine, promoting Japanese culture as a part of art therapy for conflict-affected children.

Currently, Maria worked as international advocacy manager of the Human Rights Centre ZMINA. Maria is passionate about promoting human rights and bringing to account the perpetrators to reestablish a sense of justice for the survivors of the Russian war against Ukraine.

Since the full-scale invasion from February 24, 2022, Maria has become the voice of Ukrainian hostages kept by the Kremlin regime advocating for their release in the world capitals, the UN and the European Parliament.

Kurinna joined International Center for Ukrainian Victory (ICUV) in May 2022 to contribute to Ukrainian civil society women leaders’ efforts to speed up Ukraine’s victory and add human rights perspective to its activity.

Currently Kurinna is an international advocacy advisor in ZMINA and Post-graduate student in Theory and Practice of Human Rights in the University of Essex, Law School, the UK as FCDO Chevening scholarship holder.

Kurinna speaks Japanese, English and Spanish. In her peaceful life Maria was a university lecturer of the Japanese studies. She is a graduate from Urawa Language Institute, Japan and alumni of the Swedish Academy for Young Professionals Maria is an expert in Asia-Pacific relations, Japanese studies and cultural diplomacy. Kurinna used to work in Africa and is interested in strengthening bridges between Ukraine and Global South. In her free time, she translates literature.

Alumni of Swedish Academy for Young professionals. The UK FCDO Chevening scholarship holder.

Maria believes the world can achieve more equality, justice and empathy with each of us act today. Her moto is a Japanese proverb 「七転び八起き」”nana oki ya korobi” which means fall seven times and get up eight.