Russian invasion had wrecked Ukraine’s cultural heritage, with thousands of valued objects – including museums, libraries, archives, regional art hubs, music, and art schools – damaged or looted, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy, Kateryna Chuyeva, has said.
Chuyeva has alleged that many of Ukraine’s cultural sites have been destroyed by Russian missiles in the past year, adding that they have so far registered or verified at least 1,300 damaged or ruined objects of cultural infrastructure and at least 400 completely ruined immovable objects of cultural heritage in different regions.
According to the Ukrainian politician, the level of damage to lives and properties in the country during the Russian so-called special military operation against Ukraine is unprecedented since the Second World War.
While the war continues with wanton destruction and damage, Chuyeva notes that while many cultural heritage sites are totally destroyed, they’ve also lost a huge amount of archival documents whereas valuable collections from a number of museums in Ukrainian territories under Russian occupation were looted.
These include gold and silver objects from archaeological excavations and paintings from Mariupol, she said, adding that she expects the number of artifacts wrecked or looted to rise.
UNESCO has verified damage to 245 heritage sites in Ukraine since the invasion which, as of March 1, includes 106 religious sites, 20 museums, 88 buildings of historical and/or artistic interest, 19 monuments, and 12 libraries.
Last March, UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay urged Russian FM Sergey Lavrov to protect cultural heritage during the conflict in Ukraine under an international convention, warning him that any violation of these norms will see Russia brought to international responsibility.
However, despite Russia’s assurances, many of Ukraine’s museums were attacked Chuyeva said with at least two museums in the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions targeted and destroyed only because they were cultural sites.
The Kyiv region has seen at least 38 damaged cultural and religious sites while the number in the Kharkiv region is 54.