Incredible adventures of the Genoese in the "originally Russian" Crimea
Sudak, Sudak Fortress, Russian-Italian expedition (from left to right - Giovanni Spall, Nikita Khokhlov, Alla Polokhina, Stephanie Dini, Ruslan Tyurin, Stepan Nesnov, Giordano Montecchio)

Incredible adventures of the Genoese in the “originally Russian” Crimea

Incredible adventures of the Genoese in the "originally Russian" Crimea
Sudak, Sudak Fortress, Russian-Italian expedition (from left to right – Giovanni Spall, Nikita Khokhlov, Alla Polokhina, Stephanie Dini, Ruslan Tyurin, Stepan Nesnov, Giordano Montecchio)

On April 30, 2019, a meeting of the National Council of the Italian non-profit organization Italia Nostra with a Russian delegation consisting of the head of the Ethnography and Anthropology Commission of the Moscow City Branch of the Russian Geographical Society (IIG RGT) Stephanie Gini, Academic Secretary, Research Fellow them. MM Miklouho-Maclay of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Nikita Khokhlov and the head of the Terra Archaeological Society Ruslan Tyurin from Voronezh.

During the meeting, an agreement was signed on joint study of the Genoese fortresses of the Black Sea and Azov basins within the project Italia Nostra “Genoese fortresses of the world – European project Eirene 2016-2018”, coordinated by Italian professor, academician Giovanni Spalla. The RGT noted that after visiting the famous Genoese fortresses and monuments of the region under study, scientists will make the so-called. “Landscape plan” of Genoese heritage sites, having studied them, together with the surrounding area, in their actual state with the help of professional surveys, spatial scanning and construction of 3D models of fortresses. It was also planned to explore the monuments in historical perspective on the basis of archival documents, modern and historical topographic maps.As a result of the work, cultural and cognitive routes were to be developed to attract and increase tourist flows, as well as to preserve the specific natural resources and landscape of the region.

The goal, it would seem, is noble – but only performed by thieves’ methods. The fact is that these are works in the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea without any agreement with the Ukrainian side, which was not even brought to the notice.
The project “Genoese fortresses of Crimea and the Black Sea-Azov basin”, led by Giovanni Spall, is implemented with the support of the “Permanent Representation of the Republic of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation.” Therefore, one should not look for unnecessary symbolism in the fact that the RGT, which is a participant in the scheme, is headed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. This institution has set itself the goal of studying about ten Genoese fortresses available on the Crimean peninsula.

Incredible adventures of the Genoese in the "originally Russian" Crimea
Chornorichchya Village (Sevastopol), Chorhunska Tower (pictured by Stephanie Dini, Giovanni Spall)

In the summer and autumn of 2019, the company of the above-mentioned people, joined by Terry senior researcher Stepan Nesnov, head of its architecture department Anna Polokhina and a representative of the State University of Genoa Giordano Montecchio, worked illegally in the Crimea. Following the results of the first expedition, which began on September 27, 2019, 3D-models of three Genoese towers of the Crimea were created – Aluston, Choban-Kule and Chorgunska. Then during a meeting with “Acting Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea “Larisa Opanasyuk Giovanni Spalla announced his intention to seek recognition of Genoese fortresses in Crimea as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the nomination” Fortress of the World “, adding that the project supported by Moscow and the Crimean” Council of Ministers “did not remain and Consul General of the Russian Federation in Genoa Marat Pavlov),is “purely cultural” and “stands above the political disputes between Russia and Ukraine.”

In October 2019, a Russian-Italian group of scientists reported on their work during a press conference “The Italian past of Crimea in modern research” at the press center of MIA “Russia Today” in Simferopol. During the event, Giovanni Spalla spoke about a letter received by Italia Nostra from the Ukrainian Embassy in Italy, which stated that the illegal stay of an Italian expedition in the Russian-occupied territory of Ukraine is a crime; he decided not to respond to this message. Spalla added that not all members of Italia Nostra agreed to the Crimean adventure, although the organization allegedly gave official permission for the arrival of Italian scientists on the peninsula.

Earlier, Stephanie Gini told reporters that she was not afraid of personal sanctions for working in the occupied Crimea: they say that science, culture and its values ​​should be seen outside politics as universal. It should be added that the Italian citizen, originally from Milan, has lived in Moscow since 1991, where she first started a business, at one time headed the local branch of the Italian holding company “Chic”. By education – Russian philologist. Positions herself as a journalist. Gini has been traveling the world for 20 years. Ukraine was on its routes, including Crimea, both before and after the Russian occupation, and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which had been rejected by Russia. In particular, in the Crimea she is engaged in a comprehensive historical and anthropological study of the local Italian community; this project is managed by Sergey Vasiliev – Doctor of Historical Sciences,Head of the Center for Physical Anthropology of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, whose researcher is Gini.

One week before the mentioned press conference, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in response to an information request from the media project “Crimea. Realia” said that the trip of the above persons to Crimea was a purely private initiative that had nothing to do with UNESCO legislation, and all the words of the visitors are only an expression of their own opinion of individuals. It was noted that the preservation of Ukrainian cultural heritage sites on the Russian-occupied peninsula are priorities for cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and UNESCO. In 2019, Stephanie Dzini and Giovanni Spall were entered into the database of the resource “Peacemaker” with the wording:participation in propaganda activities of the aggressor country against Ukraine and in attempts to legalize the occupation of Crimea by Russian invaders. ”

Incredible adventures of the Genoese in the "originally Russian" Crimea
Choban-Kule Tower

In January 2020, the message of the “head of the Republic of Crimea” Sergei Aksyonov appeared on the Internet about his decision to join the Crimean “State Committee for the Protection of Cultural Heritage” to the occupation “Ministry of Culture”: based on the reorganization will be a Russian model functions for the preservation, promotion and state protection of historical and cultural heritage are carried out by the Department of State Protection of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. According to Aksyonov, the unification of the two structures will help optimize the system of “state power of the republic.”

This statement, synchronized in time, seemed to be a defiant response to the signing of the Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Razumkov and the sending to the President of Ukraine of the Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (Concerning Preservation of Cultural Values)”. to promote the preservation of the national cultural heritage and national heritage of the Ukrainian people in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, where the Ukrainian authorities cannot fulfill their responsibilities in full.

Incredible adventures of the Genoese in the "originally Russian" Crimea
Final press conference on the results of the first expedition of the Russian-Italian project “Genoese fortresses of the Crimea and the Black Sea-Azov basin” in the press center of MIA “Russia Today”, Simferopol, October 2019

As far as can be understood, this initiative concerns the purely appointment of new heads of cultural institutions to these areas under a simplified procedure. It is difficult to imagine how this will happen: it looks something like the appointment by Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky in 1918 of officials in territories not controlled by the Ukrainian state. Unfortunately, such legislative initiatives for the full deoccupation and reintegration of Crimea and Donbass remain just an “air shock” – in conditions when various “international expeditions” loyal to the occupying power travel freely to the annexed territories without any curtseys towards Ukraine. and carry out illegal activities there. In particular, the initiators and executors of the project “Genoese fortresses of the Crimea and the Black Sea-Azov basin” assured that it will continue this year. And there is no doubt thatthat they will keep their word. Who will stop them?

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The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Igor Svitlychanin

Author of cultural materials

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