UNESCO: Occupiers seized and damaged over 4,000 cultural heritage in Crimea, illegally exported artworks

Crimean Tatars
Canan Kevser
15 September 2021, 13:36
Canan Kevser
15 September 2021, 13:36

Russian occupation authorities in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula, brutally damaged more than 4,000 cultural heritages and robbed numbers of art artifacts to export.

This is stated in a report on “Follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine)” Published by the UNESCO Executive Board for its 212th session.

Russia appropriated 4,095 monuments under state protection

"The Russian occupation of Crimea has changed the perception of Ukraine’s historical and cultural heritage, both by the state and society. Russia has appropriated Ukrainian cultural property on the peninsula, including 4,095 national and local monuments under state protection. Appropriation of monuments is in itself a violation of international law. However, it is equally important that Russia uses such appropriation to implement its comprehensive long-term strategy to strengthen its historical, cultural and religious dominance over the past, present and future of Crimea," the report reads.

Human rights situation significantly deteriorated over seven years

Over seven years of occupation, the report indicates, the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated significantly; Systemic political persecution, physical and psychological pressure, annihilation of the independent media, discrimination on the basis of religion, violation of ownership and language rights forced more than 45,000 Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians to leave the occupied peninsula.

It also underlines that the Russian Federation continues to prosecute ethnic and religious communities that refuse to recognize the illegal occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and seek to preserve their native language, religious and cultural identity.

Occupiers illegally export art artifacts, exhibit in Russia

"Russia implements its policy in several ways to influence the cultural sector: it illegally exports art artifacts from the occupied Crimea, which it then exhibits in Russia in accordance with its own curatorial narratives; conducts unauthorized archaeological excavations; erases traces of the cultural presence of the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula, while turning their religion into a weapon against themselves," the report adds.

Violation of the Hague Convention

The Russian Federation does not fulfill its obligations to preserve cultural heritage sites in the temporarily occupied territory. In violation of the requirements of the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, illegal “archaeological excavations” are being carried out at cultural heritage sites.

Bakhchisaray Palace and Muslim burial grounds destroyed

The occupying authorities and scientific institutions of the Russian Federation are destroying the cultural heritage of Ukraine, the report says according to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

"Numerous unsanctioned archaeological excavations, whose findings are often unlawfully exported to Russia or end up on the black market. Muslim burial grounds have been demolished to build the Tavrida Highway, which leads to the newly built Kerch Bridge connecting the peninsula to Russia. Distortive restoration of the Bakhchisaray Palace of the Crimean Khans, the only remaining architectural ensemble of the Crimean Tatars indigenous people of this kind, which is on the UNESCO Tentative List," it states.

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage nominee: Crimean Tatar ornament "Ornek"

Recalling that Ukraine submitted in March 2020 a nomination entitled “Ornek, a Crimean Tatar ornament and knowledge about it” for possible inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO says the Intergovernmental Committee will examine this nomination at its sixteenth session to be held on 13-18 December 2021.