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Cultural heritage before and after the occupation: what has changed?
Crimea is the territory of Ukraine, which is one of the most unique parts of our country. Here, the intertwining of different nationalities and religions has created a unique cultural environment that can not fail to impress. Thus, at the beginning of 2014, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine (now the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine) declared the existence in the Crimea of 63 cultural monuments of national importance and 1080 – local, including the Livadia Palace , Kerch Fortress, Assumption Complex cave monastery in Bakhchisarai, Theodosius Museum of Local Lore and many other buildings and monuments.
In addition, the Ministry of Culture has more than 30 existing museums and galleries in the Crimea, where about 1 million 200 thousand exhibits were exhibited and at the same time there were about 773 libraries. It is also worth mentioning that the Chersonesos Tavriya National Reserve has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as such monuments as the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchisarai, the Genoese Fortress in Sudak, the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, Mangup-Kale, Chuski- Ker -Cale is currently on the so-called preliminary list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites ( The Tentative List ). All these objects are the cultural heritage of Ukraine, and it determines the mode of use, preservation and protection of these monuments.
However, with the beginning of the occupation of the Russian peninsula, the situation changed dramatically. Occupying the peninsula, Russia began its offensive on cultural heritage in Crimea. Since the Russian Federation considers itself the “sole ruler” of the Crimean peninsula, in its opinion, everything that is there also belongs to it. Therefore, the right to dispose of, and specifically – to destroy, desecrate, destroy cultural heritage sites and distort in their favorite the history of Crimea is considered legitimate. Due to Russia’s position, the state of cultural heritage on the Crimean peninsula leaves much to be desired.
According to all norms and standards of warfare, the occupying state, which has occupied the territory, is strictly forbidden to destroy cultural values, historical monuments, places of worship and objects that constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples, as well as to use them to achieve success in hostilities. In particular, this provision is enshrined in the 1954 Hague Conventions, Article 16 II of the 1977 Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. And Article 8 (2) (b) (ix) of the Rome Statute defines the destruction and damage of cultural monuments as a war crime.
Despite the above provisions of international humanitarian law, Russia is persistently pursuing a policy in Crimea that has caused considerable damage. Thus, during the last 5 years, the Russian authorities have carried out unprecedented illegal and large-scale archaeological excavations on the Crimean peninsula; destroyed a number of valuable archaeological monuments during construction works; caused irreparable damage to a number of historical and cultural monuments. In particular, some of the cultural heritage sites were moved to the territory of the Russian Federation ( ed. Aivazovsky’s collection of paintings was temporarily taken out for exhibition at the Hermitage) or sold at auctions abroad.
The state policy on preservation of cultural heritage on the territory of the occupied Crimea is de jure and de facto its implementation. Achievements and failures of Ukraine
It is impossible to turn a blind eye to such actions on the part of Russia. Today, there are several public organizations in Ukraine that partially take care of the cultural issues of Crimea. And the contribution of these organizations in the struggle for the protection and preservation of cultural heritage cannot be assessed, because this work is invaluable. But a rather logical question arises – what actions does the state take to preserve the cultural heritage of Crimea?
Over a period of time, I conducted a small study on Ukraine’s state policy on cultural heritage in the occupied territories, including the Crimean Peninsula. The results of the study are really impressive and disappointing at the same time.
Today in Ukraine there are several acts that are fundamental and directly regulate the activities of public authorities in the protection and preservation of cultural monuments. First of all, I am talking about such acts as the Law of Ukraine “On Culture”, “On Protection of Cultural Heritage”, “On Protection of Archaeological Heritage” and other related acts. However, in connection with the events that have been going on for the seventh year in a row, there is a need for additional regulation of issues of protection and preservation of cultural heritage. To this end, the state has adopted regulations governing and establishing the regime of the temporarily occupied territory of both Donbass and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. In particular, On January 18, 2018,the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Peculiarities of State Policy to Ensure State Sovereignty of Ukraine in the Temporarily Occupied Territories in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” № 2268, which also determines the legal status of the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol mode on them. This Law stipulates that one of the activities of the state should be to promote the provision of cultural needs and ties, in particular through the implementation of measures identified by the central executive body of Ukraine.
However, it is only the Law that determines the principles of policy, but not those who will directly carry out the activity and what exactly. To this end, the Plan for the preparation of draft acts necessary for the implementation of Law № 2268 was approved, which noted that the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory is the main body of the state, which ” should organize research on the cultural heritage of Ukrainian, Crimean Tatar and other peoples of the Crimean peninsula and to promote their integration into Ukrainian society . ”
Of course, I sincerely congratulate the Government of Ukraine on its official position on the principles of Ukraine’s policy towards the occupied territories. However, I draw your attention to the fact that in this position there is not a single word that could specify and define the work of the state in the preservation of cultural and archaeological heritage, including in the occupied Crimea. In view of this fact, the following conclusions will be drawn from the main acts regulating, establishing the activities of the state in the field of protection and preservation of cultural heritage sites, which were mentioned above.
According to Art. 3 of the Law “On Protection of Cultural Heritage” – the issue of preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites should be taken care of by a specially authorized central body for protection of cultural heritage, ie – the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine (hereinafter – ICIP).
But, given the situation in the country, I also took into account two other structures that should theoretically deal with this issue. We are talking about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (hereinafter – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), as one of the representatives of the state in the international arena, and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine (hereinafter – the Ministry of Justice), which should take care of legal issues concerning the return of cultural heritage. resolving relevant disputes in courts.
The first step in the study was to examine the official websites of the above-mentioned public authorities. However, to my great disappointment, the information related to the cultural heritage of Crimea was missing. No state institution, especially the ICIP, which should be most concerned about this issue, has posted on its website information about the situation with cultural heritage in the occupied Crimea and its activities in the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.
It is highly probable that the profile pages on the official websites of the ministries were not created due to the absence of any activity of these bodies to investigate the situation related to monitoring, preservation and protection of cultural heritage on the occupied peninsula and, consequently, the lack of information that public authorities are obliged to analyze and publish within their competence.
Unable to find information on the websites, in July 2020 I asked the central authorities (ICIP, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to provide me with information on their work in the field of cultural heritage preservation. First of all, I was interested in: ” What actions and measures have been taken by the state to preserve the cultural heritage located in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea?” Unfortunately, in response, I received either a refusal to provide information, or the ministries provided outdated or general, but by no means specific, information that made no sense at all. So, let’s look at the responses of the ministries separately.
– Ministry of Justice of Ukraine
I addressed this body of the state with the question: “What court cases are currently under the jurisdiction of the Ministry, which concerns the problem of preservation of cultural heritage?”In response, I was informed that, within its jurisdiction, the Ministry protects the rights and interests of Ukraine in the case of Ukraine’s claim to the Allard Pearson Archaeological Museum in Amsterdam. Let me remind you that the dispute arose due to the fact that between the Allard Pearson Museum and a number of museums located in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, agreements were concluded for the exhibition of certain museum objects of the state part of the Museum Fund of Ukraine. Due to the temporary occupation of Crimea and claims by Crimean museums, the management of the Allard Pearson Museum refused to return the exhibits to Ukraine until a decision was made by the competent courts. To date, there is a decision of the District Court of Amsterdam,according to which the court recognized the right of Ukraine to return to its territory a collection of Crimean museums. But, Crimean museums, disagreeing with this verdict, have filed an appeal and are currently on appeal in this case. So far, the Crimean Museum case is the only one initiated by Ukraine to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of its occupied territories, which is under the Ministry of Justice.
– Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
– Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not provide a clear answer to the request for measures taken at the diplomatic level to preserve / protect and counter the seizure of museum, archival heritage and libraries located (or located) in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. The Ministry announced its high mission in Ukraine’s international relations with other subjects of international law (states, international organizations). Unfortunately, the information provided did not contain information on the results of the department’s work. So I can conclude that there is no activity.
And now I propose to proceed to the analysis of the ICIP. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is the main body in the system of central executive bodies, which ensures the formation and implementation of state policy on preservation of national memory, arts, cultural heritage protection, museum affairs, export, import and return of cultural values.
The first question: Creation of registers of cultural monuments of Ukraine is the main activity of ICIP: are there any results?
The Ministry provided a list of monuments of national and local significance for inquiries concerning the maintenance of registers of cultural heritage located on the territory of the Crimean Peninsula and a separate register of heritage that was destroyed or damaged as a result of the occupying state in the territory of Crimea. . It also did not contain any mention of the monuments mentioned at the beginning of this article. In addition, the Ministry did not provide me with any response to a request concerning destroyed or damaged cultural heritage. In addition, in one of the numerous responses, the ICIP further informed me that today there is no and never has been a centralized accounting of museum objects that are in museums in the Crimea and throughout Ukraine.
A similar situation with libraries, theaters, galleries. Let me remind you that Art. 1 of the Law of Ukraine “On protection of cultural heritage” defines the object of cultural heritage as follows: ” it is a landmark, building (work), complex (ensemble), their parts, related moving objects, as well as territories or water objects (underwater cultural and archaeological heritage sites), other natural, natural-anthropogenic or man-made objects, regardless of the state of preservation, which have brought to our time the value of archaeological, aesthetic, ethnological, historical, architectural, artistic , scientific or artistic view and have retained their authenticity. “ Thus, libraries, theaters and museums are also included in the concept of” cultural heritage site “.
Given the above, it can be assumed that the Ministry does not carry out its work on monitoring the condition of cultural monuments and announcing the results of this activity, which is both a violation of its internal regulations and Law № 2268 and the Information Reintegration Strategy of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Sevastopol.
Question two: ICIP activities under occupation – what measures are being taken?
Regarding the response to the request for measures taken to preserve cultural monuments in the temporarily occupied Crimea, the Ministry said that on September 11, 2017 in Strasbourg, the Minister of Justice of Ukraine signed the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Related to Cultural Property.
I will not deny that the signing of this Convention is a really big step for Ukraine as a whole in the policy of protection and preservation of cultural heritage. First of all, the peculiarity of this Convention lies in its purely criminal nature. The document clearly sets out the relevant corpus delicti, types of punishment, aggravating circumstances, forms of complicity, and so on. The Convention also provides for the process of implementing these provisions into the national criminal law of States Parties.
Following the signing, a special working group of the Ministry of Justice was set up to oversee the implementation of this Convention into national law. To date, as a result of the work of this group, a draft Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine in Connection with the Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Related to Cultural Property” was created, which provided for changes in the Criminal Code, Laws Ukraine “On Culture”, “On the export, import and return of cultural property”.
Another international document that Ukraine finally ratified on April 30, 2020, was the Second Protocol of 1999 to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, which prohibits archaeological excavations in the occupied territories and provides the international community with UNESCO. effective powers to monitor the situation and influence the occupying party in order to preserve cultural values.
In particular, the Protocol establishes additional restrictions on the application of the principle of “military necessity”, introduced by the institution of “enhanced protection”. The Protocol develops and regulates the issue of criminal prosecution for crimes against cultural property, which significantly expands and strengthens the responsibility for crimes in the field of cultural heritage protection in the event of armed conflict. It also provides for the protection of cultural property in the occupied territories.
I will not deny that the signing of these two documents is a really big step for Ukraine as a whole. But I must clarify – both documents are signed, but not implemented in national law . Consequently, these treaties cannot yet be fully applied to address the pressing issues for which they were actually ratified. The issue of state activity in the field of protection and preservation of cultural heritage sites still remains open. Although the signing of two international agreements is a big deal, they do not determine the activities of the state and will not perform its work instead.
Summarizing all the above, I can describe the work of government agencies in the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites as inefficient, scattered and irresponsible.
Are all scientists honest and veto any contacts with Russia or not?
A separate question arises regarding Ukrainian researchers and scholars. In particular, the question concerns their participation in counteracting the Russian Federation’s attack on the authenticity of our cultural heritage sites and historical truth. Are all scientists honest and veto any contacts with Russia or not? Unfortunately, in my search for these questions, I did not find an unambiguous answer. Somewhere at Russian conferences, in Russian scientific publications, the names of our scientists appeared. This fact is really depressing. However, is such cooperation of our scientists with the Russian scientific community a consequence of the lack of a clearly defined state policy?
Indeed, such a scattered and irresponsible policy of the state causes a huge number of white spots in practice. In particular, monitoring of some sites dedicated to the activities of the Republic of Crimea in the field of culture revealed that the occupying power actively holds international conferences and round tables, which involve experts from Russia and its satellite countries, as well as experts from territories of Ukraine, which are mostly Ukrainophobes and Russophiles.
It is certain that after a more detailed investigation into the participation of Ukrainian scientists in pro-Russian activities, we will be able to find even more people like Prigarin. After all, such activities of Ukrainian scientists lead to their self-affirmation in the scientific community and increase the authority of their opinion as scientific. On the other hand, there is a serious discrediting of the scientific community of Ukraine, promotion of Russian narratives, actual legitimation of Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine not only in the international arena, but also within both countries – citizens of Ukraine and the Russian Federation .In my opinion, in order for such scientists to be less and less necessary in the future, a mechanism of public condemnation, ignorance by the scientific community and proper investigation and legal assessment of such actions by law enforcement agencies is needed.For example, in the so-called international online conference on “The legacy of Cyril and Methodius at the crossroads of cultures: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia “, organized on June 18, 2020 by the Commission of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation in Crimea, Sciences, Professor of Archeology and Ethnology of Ukraine, Odessa National University. II Mechnikov Prigarin Alexander Anatolyevich  .The event was also attended by the so-called deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Ruslan Balbek, the so-called “scientists of the Museum of Chersonesos Tavria”, representatives of the “Assembly of Slavic Peoples of Crimea.” At the conference there were statements about the unification of the Slavic peoples, the formation of interethnic dialogue within the Russian world.
Recommendations and suggestions
Ukraine’s struggle to protect cultural values located in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea is undoubtedly an extremely important process, but this attitude of the state to its mission in this matter is disappointing and further complicates the process of protection of cultural heritage. However, a number of questions arise as to the effectiveness of this struggle. After all, what can be required in terms of protection of cultural heritage from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, if the ICRC and the Ministry of Reintegration do not document violations,as it should be in accordance with the laws of Ukraine? But then what to document if there is no monitoring and no objective information about the situation on the occupied peninsula? And at the same time – what to monitor when the ICIP does not even know which of the cultural heritage sites remained intact, and which are no longer in the occupied territories, because there is no corresponding register?
As you know, the main tasks of the state to conduct an effective and efficient policy are monitoring, documenting violations, informing and as a result – bringing the perpetrators to justice. As we can see, the Ukrainian government, in particular in the person of the ICIP, has not yet fulfilled even its first task – monitoring. I understand that this is a very harsh accusation against the ICRP, but unfortunately I am forced to do so on the basis of the results of my research.
In order to ensure that the situation does not worsen further, and that Ukraine can still effectively protect and preserve the cultural heritage in the occupied territories, it is recommended that:
– The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to review the situation on the preservation and protection of cultural heritage and adopt a separate legal act “On protection of cultural heritage sites during the war and occupation”, which would clearly define the direction of the state in this area and specify who and what actions should be taken in certain cases.
– The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to create a separate special body or unit within the system of the Ministry, whose tasks include monitoring, documenting and informing the public on the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.
– The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to create a separate profile page (section) on the official website with information on the results of monitoring the use, preservation and protection of cultural values in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea.
– The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to create a separate register of cultural values of Ukraine, which are located in the temporarily occupied territories of the Crimean Peninsula.
– The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy together with the Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons to create a separate register of cultural values of Ukraine that were destroyed, damaged or illegally relocated in connection with the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation.
– The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to create a separate list of cultural values and institutions with the function of preserving movable monuments of cultural heritage located at military bases (both on land and in the Black and Azov Seas), landfills, takeoffs and landings strips of launchers and other military infrastructure facilities preserved in Ukraine.
– The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy and the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to UNESCO to accelerate the inclusion in the list of endangered cultural heritage sites in the occupied Crimea, nominated by Ukraine to be included in the list of world monuments, which are now in the previous list: Bakhchisaray Palace of the Crimean Khans, Complex of monuments of the Sudak fortress (VI – XVI centuries), Posts and fortifications on the trade routes of the Genoese from the Mediterranean to the Black Seas, Cultural landscape “Cave cities of Crimean Gothia “, Historical environment of the Crimean Khans in the city Crimean Geophysical Observatory.
– The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to take all necessary measures to complete the process of Ukraine’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Related to Cultural Values (Nicosia, 2017).
– The Ministry of Education and Science to carry out constant monitoring of scientific publications, dissertation research, scientific topics, grant programs, conferences, seminars, etc. for their observation by the organizers, participants, leaders and executors of the principles of the Ukrainian sanctions policy, EU directives in line with the associative and prospects of Ukraine’s full membership in the EU and NATO.
Photos from open sources
O. Prigarin also called for the unity of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples, their culture and religion at other public events organized by the Russian scientific community and government. The scientist took part in the second All-Russian Congress of Folklorists of Russia, in a “round table” on the topic: “Yenisei Meridian” of Old Believers. Research Practices and Methodological Search “which took place on the basis of Tuva State University (Republic of Thebes, Russia). O. Prigarin gave interviews to several pro-Russian and Russian media, including the Russkaya Vera media portal. Prigarin is often published in Russian publications such as the Scientific Almanac “Traditional Culture”, in the publications of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. Peter the Great in St. Petersburg, on the resource CyberLeninka,which publishes mainly pro-Russian scientists and scholars from the Crimea, calling for accession to the “Russian world”. It is also worth noting that Prigarin is a member of the online community “Russian Culturology”, a closed community for Russian scientists and researchers.