Home Museum institution Putin has opened the door to massive looting of Ukraine’s cultural heritage with his recent declaration of martial law

Putin has opened the door to massive looting of Ukraine’s cultural heritage with his recent declaration of martial law

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On October 19, Vladimir Putin imposed martial law in four Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Russia. In doing so, he also effectively legalized the looting of cultural heritage in Ukraine, the art diary points out.

According to Russian law, the declaration of martial law grants the country the power to “evacuate” items of economic, social and cultural importance. Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk are the four regions specified in Putin’s Decree.

However, looting is taking place in Ukrainian territories that have been occupied for months.

Russian forces have already energetically commandeered the Shovkunenko Regional Art Museum in the city of Kherson, and a similar fate probably awaits dozens of other institutions in the four annexed regions, including the Kherson Regional Art Museum, the Donetsk Republican Art Museum and the Luhansk Art Museum .

In Kherson, the occupiers also dismantled Soviet-era monuments dedicated to 18th-century Russian military heroes Aleksandr Suvorov, Fyodor Ushakov and Vasily Margelov.

Russian troops removed a 21st-century replica of an 1823 statue of Prince Grigory Potemkin, who orchestrated the annexation of Crimea to the Turks in 1783. The soldiers also exhumed Potemkin’s bones from St. Catherine of Kherson and transported them further into Russian-controlled territory. , according CNN.

On October 15, before Putin’s announcement of martial law, the The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture said that the “evacuation” of Crimean museums will be considered a “war crime”.

“The massive removal of cultural values ​​from the territory of Ukraine by the Russian occupiers will be comparable to the looting of museums during World War II and should be qualified accordingly,” the ministry statement said, citing the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property. Property in the event of armed conflict.

“The actions of the Russian Federation constitute a violation of international law…Any seizure, destruction or willful damage to religious, charitable, educational, artistic and scientific institutions, historical monuments, works of art and science is prohibited and should be prosecuted. ”

The Ministry of Culture concluded by calling on Unesco and “all international partners” to “prevent a new violation of international law by the aggressor state”, to “refuse cooperation with Russian museums” and to “counter the illegal traffic in cultural values”.

Mykhailo Podolyak, senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, took to Twitter to say that the martial law decree should only be seen as a “pseudo-legalization of the looting of Ukrainian property”.

“It changes nothing for Ukraine,” Podolyak wrote. “We are pursuing the liberation and disoccupation of our territories.”

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