Russia planning to loot Crimean museums under pretext of ‘evacuation’

16 October 2022, 11:35 AM
According to the General Staff, the Russians want to steal museum exhibits from Crimea (Photo:Daniil Drozdov/flickr)

According to the General Staff, the Russians want to steal museum exhibits from Crimea (Photo:Daniil Drozdov/flickr)

The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and Information Policy has called on UNESCO and international partners to help foil Russia's planned theft of museum exhibits from Crimea, the ministry said in a statement on Oct. 15.

Earlier, the Ukrainian military’s General Staff said that the occupation "authorities" in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea had issued an "order” on the procedure for  "evacuation of museums" – internal (within the occupied region) and external (to the territory of Russia).

They noted that Russians prioritized taking out exhibits that have the greatest material value.

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“Such a massive export of cultural property by Russian occupiers from the territory of Ukraine will be proportional to the looting of museums during the Second World War and should be qualified accordingly," the Ministry of Culture said, pointing out that this also constitutes a war crime.

The department calls on UNESCO and all international partners:

  • to prevent another violation of international law by the aggressor state;
  • to refuse to cooperate with Russian museums and other institutions;
  • to counteract the illegal trafficking of cultural property and the legalization of misappropriated property by Russia under the pretext of exhibitions from the collections of Russian museums or excavations in the Russian-occupied territories carried out after 2013.

The Ministry said that as of 2013 there were about 1.2 million museum objects in Crimea. There were 26 museums and five historical and cultural reserves on the peninsula.

As of Aug. 3, 2022, the Culture Ministry recorded 500 counts of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian cultural heritage. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for the expulsion of Russia from UNESCO. According to Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Russian military looted almost 40 Ukrainian museums. The losses are estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

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