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Russia’s attack on Ukraine in 2014 from the very beginning showed signs of ordinary (conventional) war – the seizure of Russian civilian regime facilities by the Russian military, including government buildings and crossings, assaults on Ukrainian military units, during one of which in Simferopol a Ukrainian officer was killed, a naval battle on the west coast of Crimea, then, for example, one of the Ukrainian ships on the Donuzlav used hundreds of light-noise grenades to protect against attackers from ships flying the Andriy flag. However, in the mass consciousness of Ukraine and the world, Russia’s aggression has become entrenched as a hybrid war. Signs of the latter, indeed, were also – the huge role of unarmed methods of warfare compared to hostilities with conventional weapons, as well as Russia’s desire to hide the very fact of unleashing aggression,to show himself as a third party in the alleged “intra-Ukrainian” conflict. The Kremlin has actively and systematically carried out large-scale information, economic and geocultural attacks against Ukraine.
Moreover, the economic consequences of Russian aggression for Ukraine are great and painful. The only problem is that due to the seizure of Crimea, the Ukrainian side lost access to most of its shelf, where it mined hydrocarbons and where a large multinational company was soon to operate under a Ukrainian license. 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Ukrainian offshore fields with the help of Russian-occupied Ukrainian drilling rigs worth $ 800 million. It is not easy to calculate the consequences of Russia’s geocultural war against Ukraine, but its impact may have even more negative consequences in the future. Because the question here is not in the losses, losses and casualties of the Ukrainian people, but in attempts to question its very existence.
During the period of its rule in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, Russia managed to cause great damage to the material cultural heritage of Ukraine – numerous robberies and destruction of monuments are known. Mount Mithridates in Kerch), illegal movement of objects of the museum fund of Ukraine to Russia and to third countries. However, systematic efforts to use the symbolic capital of Crimean monuments to justify or conceal aggression against Ukraine are noteworthy. The occupation and attempted annexation of part of the territory of a sovereign state by Russia before the 2014 war was the first in Europe since World War II. Such actions of the aggressor state have become a gross violation of international law and order,which was created to prevent wars from the middle of the twentieth century, bilateral Ukrainian-Russian treaties and commitments made by Russia under multilateral agreements. The lack of legal grounds for the capture of the Ukrainian Crimea and Sevastopol and the aggression against Ukraine in general led to the Kremlin’s attempts to disguise its actions with quasi-historical arguments. This is a very important reason. However, Russia’s geocultural war against Ukraine has deeper roots.
For the Kremlin and the Russian revanchist camp in general, the country centered in Kyiv is not just an important springboard for further expansion, a source of human, financial and material resources. The consciousness of the bearers of the Russian imperial matrix perceives the Ukrainian question as a threshold, because the very existence of Ukraine makes one question the question of Russian identity, because the core of Kievan Rus was the modern Ukrainian lands. Thus, Ukraine naturally feels its continuity with the Kyiv-Russian heritage. That country, which we call Russia today, was finally formed as a separate entity between the Oka and Volga rivers during the Golden Horde period. However, its authoritarian and intellectual establishment wants to present its country not just as involved in the heritage of Kievan Rus and Novgorod,where before the capture of Moscow formed the fourth East Slavic ethnic group, and the main or even sole heir. The traditional response of the Russian emperors to the “Ukrainian challenge” was aimed at destroying or at least depriving the subjectivity of Ukrainian identity. Accordingly, there is reason to perceive the Kremlin leader’s constant repetition in various variations of the thesis that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people” not as an innocent amusement in pluralism of opinion, but as a barely camouflaged programmatic denial of Ukrainian culture, language and statehood.that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people”, not as an innocent amusement in the pluralism of opinions, but as a barely camouflaged programmatic denial of Ukrainian culture, language and statehood.that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people”, not as an innocent amusement in the pluralism of opinions, but as a barely camouflaged programmatic denial of Ukrainian culture, language and statehood.
The aggressor state is trying to systematically use the cultural heritage of the illegally occupied Crimea as symbolic capital in the war against Ukraine. It is impossible to discuss the entire Crimean case in one article, so we will focus on perhaps the most illustrative cases of instrumental politicized use of the Chersonese theme and the proclamation of the occupied Ukrainian city of Kerch as “Russia’s oldest city.”
Chersonese: Kyiv should give up Crimea because the Kyiv prince was baptized there?
The obvious illegality of Russia’s actions during the capture of Ukrainian Crimea required additional justifications for the pseudo-legal “fig leaflets” (“referendums” under the barrel of a machine gun, the adoption of Russian laws on the annexation of another state). And on March 18, 2014, in his “Crimean-Sudeten” speech, the President of the Russian Federation put forward quasi-historical justifications for the capture of the two southern regions of Ukraine. This speech generally contains a number of nonsense: for example, the statement “Russians are the most divided people.” Do the Kremlin consider the Khans numerically smaller than the Russians? Haven’t heard of the Taiwan problem? Regarding the quasi-historical arguments for the need to divide Ukraine, perhaps the most absurd was the mention of “ancient Chersonese, where St. Prince Volodymyr was baptized.” It turns out that Crimea had to be torn away from the state with the capital in Kiev,because the Grand Duke of Kiev was baptized in Chersonesos more than a thousand years ago, and then baptized the people of Kiev? Can this convince anyone in their right mind?
Despite all the obvious ambiguity of the situation with Chersonesos, the Kremlin has turned this issue into one of the cornerstones of the ideology of “Crimeanism.” The sacralization of Chersonesos by the Kremlin was to remove its illegal actions from criticism. However, it soon almost called into question the internationally recognized status of this ancient and medieval city, which existed for over 1800 years and was a significant political, economic and cultural center of the Northern Black Sea coast. The fact is that in 2013 Ukraine included the Chersonesos Tavriya National Reserve in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Archaeologists have been studying this ancient city and its agricultural district, which has a unique level of preservation for ancient polises, since 1827. As early as 1892, a museum was established in Chersonesos, which became a historical and archeological museum-reserve during the Soviet era.and in independent Ukraine received the status of a National Reserve. Immediately after the capture of Crimea, the Ukrainian museum was illegally re-registered by the occupation administration.
In July 2015, the Russian “governor” of Sevastopol, S. Menyailo, appointed Archpriest Serhiy Khalyuta as the director of the Sevastopol Charitable District of the UOC of the Moscow Patriarchate to this illegitimate Russian museum as part of “strengthening the staples.” He did not have the proper professional qualities and educational level (he graduated from medical school and denominational educational institutions), but he could implement the direction of the sacralization of a significant historical place demanded by the Russian authorities. S. Menyaylo emphasized when appointing a clergyman as the head of a scientific and educational institution that Chersonese should be not only a tourist, but also a center of worship and pilgrimage. It is possible that the protest of the staff of the national reserve would not work, but the accession of Russian scientists and museum workers forced the Russian authorities to turn on the “reverse”.
The director of the Hermitage and head of the Union of Museums of Russia M. Piotrovsky stressed that the transformation of Chersonesos from a scientific and educational center into a religious one is unacceptable, and the appointment of a cleric as director of the reserve may exclude this valuable object from the UNESCO World Heritage List. It should be noted that the author of this correct statement also does not respect the law in the field of cultural heritage protection, as he resumed excavations in Chersonesos after the occupation of Crimea without the permission of the Ukrainian side. However, his name has not yet been included in the sanctions list of Ukrainian archaeologists who work illegally in the temporarily occupied territory.
In 2015, a scientist was appointed director instead of Khalyuta, but almost at the same time the Kremlin illegally announced the inclusion of this object of Ukrainian cultural heritage in the list of “especially valuable objects of cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia.” In practice, this led to the removal of a valuable monument from the jurisdiction of the illegitimate administration of Sevastopol to the direct subordination of Moscow. However, the vector for the politicized “sacralization” of Chersonesos and its use for political manipulation was preserved. How the destruction of Chersonese choir monuments and attempts by the ROC to take away the reserve, which once belonged to the monastery, and the current director of an illegitimate museum is considered a protege of the ROC hierarch close to Putin… By the way, in 2016 Mitrofanova publicly admittedthat the Chersonesos Tavriya Museum-Reserve is not under the responsibility of Russia.
Vladimir Putin has been visiting this monument at least once a year since the capture of Crimea, and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has tirelessly reminded him that he is violating the law. The head of the Kremlin usually does this in August during an opera festival at the ancient theater. He does not forget to visit the Volodymyr Cathedral, which was restored in 2004 at the expense of the Kyiv City State Administration. Of course, such visits are of a political and propagandistic nature. In 2017, Vladimir Putin made a statement that modified the neo-imperial myth of Chersonesos. Then he said: “It is necessary to create a Russian (” Russian “), Russian Mecca. The point is not that Prince Vladimir was baptized here, but that after that the strengthening of the centralized Russian state (in the original – “Russian state”) began. The statement is frankly fantastic. After all, the centralized Moscow,in the future, the Russian state arose under the influence of the traditions of the Golden Horde several centuries later, the baptism of the Kyivan prince. However, Vladimir Putin is right when he speaks of the “unique” significance of Chersonesos for the Russian state, because for many it has become a symbol of a return in Europe to the practices of the Third Reich in interstate relations. Interestingly, one of the Russian propagandists in the spring of 2014 called Vladimir Putin “a good Hitler until 1939.” The above-mentioned statement of the President of the Russian Federation is interesting in that it shifted the emphasis in the neomythological perception of Chersonesos from Orthodoxy to statehood.for many it became a symbol of a return in Europe to the practices of the Third Reich in interstate relations. Interestingly, one of the Russian propagandists in the spring of 2014 called Vladimir Putin “a good Hitler until 1939.” The above-mentioned statement of the President of the Russian Federation is interesting in that it shifted the emphasis in the neomythological perception of Chersonesos from Orthodoxy to statehood.for many it became a symbol of a return in Europe to the practices of the Third Reich in interstate relations. Interestingly, one of the Russian propagandists in the spring of 2014 called Vladimir Putin “a good Hitler until 1939.” The above-mentioned statement of the President of the Russian Federation is interesting in that it shifted the emphasis in the neomythological perception of Chersonesos from Orthodoxy to statehood.
If in 2014, when mentioning this disappeared city, the Russian president spoke of laying the baptism in 988 of the common civilizational foundation of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, now he emphasizes the importance of Chersonesos to create a “centralized Russian state.” We see here an example of another attempt to symbolically “privatize” the memory of Chersonese. This is reminiscent of Putin’s cynical statements before the attack on Ukraine that Russia itself would have won the Great Patriotic War. At that time, the head of the Kremlin seemed to symbolically “push” other peoples of the USSR out of the memory of the victory over Nazism, and publicly demonstrated contempt for the colossal victims they suffered. For example, Ukraine lost more than 8 million people during World War II.
The Putin regime also uses the Chersonese theme to indirectly recognize the annexation of Crimea. The simplest method is to visit at the invitation of the Russian side by foreign officials or cultural figures of the reserve, a number of concerts and festivals that take place on its territory, in violation of Ukrainian legislation on border crossing. However, in 2019 the use of the Chersonese theme reached a fundamentally new level. In early summer, Russian blogger A. Shipilov said that Russia, with the help of its intelligence services, was conducting an operation to use Cyprus to try to obtain at least indirect EU recognition of Russia’s status in Crimea, and even cited a number of documents to that effect. From these materials it turned out that such a Noble Assembly of the Crimea in the person of its leader (leader) A. Ushakov,illegitimate Russian institution “Historical and Archaeological Museum-Reserve” Chersonesos Tavriya “with the support of” Deputy Prime Minister of the Crimea “, former Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Muradov and current Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Osadchy, ROC structures launched a multi-pronged political and cultural activity on the Mediterranean island in order to recognize at least the de facto legitimacy of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. The idea is probably that since it is impossible to establish direct contacts between illegitimate occupation structures in Crimea and EU state bodies, to use civil society structures controlled or even created by Russian secret services to process European states.structures of the ROC launched a multi-pronged political and cultural activity on the Mediterranean island in order to recognize at least the de facto legitimacy of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. The idea is probably that since it is impossible to establish direct contacts between illegitimate occupation structures in Crimea and EU state bodies, to use civil society structures controlled or even created by Russian secret services to process European states.structures of the ROC launched a multi-pronged political and cultural activity on the Mediterranean island in order to recognize at least the de facto legitimacy of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. The idea is probably that since it is impossible to establish direct contacts between illegitimate occupation structures in Crimea and state bodies of the EU, civil society structures controlled or even created by Russian special services will be used to process European states.then to use the structures of civil society controlled or even created by the Russian secret services to process European states.then to use the structures of civil society controlled or even created by the Russian secret services to process European states.
One of the key roles in trying to use Chersonese to recognize the annexation of Crimea in Europe is played by A. Ushakov, a Muscovite and honorary president of the Commonwealth Expert and Analytical Service group of companies. A. Shipilov described him as a “fighter of the invisible front”, in front of whom representatives of the Russian administration of Crimea are almost drawn to the front. Already in 2014, the Muscovite began to work actively in the occupied territories of southern Ukraine, became a member of the working group of the CCI of the Russian Federation on the development of relations with the Crimea. In 2015, he headed the Noble Assembly of the Crimea, and in the summer of 2016 – the newly established in Simferopol Fund for Cultural and Educational Programs “Cultural Heritage of the Crimea.” The “charitable” organization openly declares its political intentions: “A number of internationally significant events were carried out at the expense of the fund in 2016-2019,which contribute to the strengthening of the positive image of Crimea and objective information about the legality and historical validity of its return to Russia. ” Already in the fall of 2016, this foundation is holding a meeting with the management of the Russian Chersonesos Tavriya Reserve on large-scale cooperation. At the time, the structure, led by Ushakov, declared its intention to assist the museum institution in a wide range of issues, from the development of the logo and the concept of updating the exhibition to the design of documents in the BTI. In 2018, the foundation agreed with the Cypriot Orthodox Church to hold in 2019 in the Republic of Cyprus exhibitions about the holy places of Crimea and the direction of Cypriot tourists on pilgrimage routes through Crimea.this fund holds a meeting with the management of the Russian Chersonesos Tavriya Reserve on large-scale cooperation. At the time, the structure, led by Ushakov, declared its intention to assist the museum institution in a wide range of issues, from the development of the logo and the concept of updating the exhibition to the design of documents in the BTI. In 2018, the foundation agreed with the Cypriot Orthodox Church to hold in 2019 in the Republic of Cyprus exhibitions about the holy places of Crimea and the direction of Cypriot tourists on pilgrimage routes through Crimea.this fund holds a meeting with the management of the Russian Chersonesos Tavriya Reserve on large-scale cooperation. At the time, the structure, led by Ushakov, declared its intention to assist the museum institution in a wide range of issues, from the development of the logo and the concept of updating the exhibition to the design of documents in the BTI. In 2018, the foundation agreed with the Cypriot Orthodox Church to hold in 2019 in the Republic of Cyprus exhibitions about the holy places of Crimea and the direction of Cypriot tourists on pilgrimage routes through Crimea.The Foundation has agreed with the Cypriot Orthodox Church to hold exhibitions in 2019 in the Republic of Cyprus about the holy places of Crimea and to direct Cypriot tourists on pilgrimage routes through Crimea.The Foundation has agreed with the Cypriot Orthodox Church to hold exhibitions in 2019 in the Republic of Cyprus about the holy places of Crimea and to direct Cypriot tourists on pilgrimage routes through Crimea.
Ushakov also became a representative of the “Union of Descendants of the Russian Noble Assembly – Noble Assembly of Russia” in Cyprus and is trying in 2019 on behalf of this organization to create in the Republic of Cyprus so-called Cultural Center “Crimean House in the EU”. However, the organization was soon renamed the Club of Friends of Chersonesos Tavriya. De facto, as its members admit, it operates at the Russian Embassy in the Republic of Cyprus, but is formally a public entity.
In June 2019, in the second largest city of Cyprus, Limassol, and in the capital Nicosia, under the auspices of this “club”, the illegitimate Russian reserve “Chersonesos Tavriya”, the ROC hosted an exhibition “Shrines of Chersonesos”. Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea of the UOC-MP blessed its holding. Once again, the Russian authorities cynically used the church to achieve their geopolitical goals and moved items from Ukraine’s museum fund outside the temporarily occupied territory without Ukraine’s permission. It is a pity that the clergy of the UOC-MP / ROC have once again allowed themselves to be involved in these dirty political games.
Ambassador of Ukraine to Cyprus B. Humeniuk on the opening of the so-called “Club of Friends of Chersonesos” – “Representation of Russian Crimea” in Europe “- officially stated that” we are witnessing how Russia again uses the tactics of the “Trojan horse” to mislead public and avoid responsibility for war crimes against Ukraine. ” The ambassador saw this specific case as another attempt to legalize the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation to the EU, which is similar to a well-planned, special operation by Moscow to circumvent EU legislation and achieve its imperial goals. In this regard, B. Humeniuk asked a rhetorical question: “I would like to know what the Greek Cypriots would say if a Turkish non-governmental organization abroad found some” historical ties and cultural values ”between the so-called Turkish Republic of the North. Cyprus and Turkey? ”
Another attempt by Russia to “privatize” the symbolic capital of the city in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea is connected with Kerch. If the Chersonese case is most likely Moscow’s attempt to use soft power in the war against Ukraine and the West, the games around the easternmost Crimean city could be started directly by the Russian administration of occupied Crimea, within the Kremlin’s tasks and rules. The fact is that in 2015 the official celebrations began in honor of the two thousandth anniversary of the city of Derbent in Dagestan, officially recognized as the oldest in Russia. Almost at the same time, the topic of Kerch as “Russia’s oldest city” began to be publicly discussed.
During its 26-century history, it had different names – Pantikapaion, Bosporus, Karsha, Korchev, Cherkio, Vosporo, Kerch. The Greek polis of Pantikapaion was founded on the Crimean shore of the Kerch (then Cimmerian) Strait, according to the latest data of Russian archaeologists, between 610 and 590 BC. Let us briefly note that the updated information about the founding of the city was received by Russian scientists after the annexation of Crimea without proper registration of documents for excavations in the Ukrainian authorities. However, long before 2014, Kerch was called the oldest city in Ukraine, as the date of its founding was considered to be VI century. B.C. In the V century. B.C. Pantikapaion became the capital of the Bosporus Kingdom, which united the shores of eastern Crimea and Taman. At the turn of the era, it was part of the Pontic Empire, the Roman Empire, later it was captured by the Goths, destroyed by the Huns.Then the city was part of Byzantium, Khazaria, Tmutarakan principality, the Golden Horde, the Republic of Genoa, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the RSFSR, the USSR, the USSR and the already independent Ukraine. Despite the ups and downs, periods of destruction and devastation, life in the city has been pulsating steadily for over 2.5 thousand years.
However, residents of Derbent can sleep peacefully – Kerch is not a competitor to their city. The point is not even that archaeologists in the 1970s and 1990s found evidence of the existence of a significant settlement on the territory of this Caucasian city in the first half of the first millennium BC. and, accordingly, it is impossible to exclude his slightly more respectable age than in Kerch. The question of dating the time of the founding of Derbent is still debated in science. The problem is that Kerch is not within Russia’s internationally recognized borders, is a Ukrainian city in terms of law, and therefore cannot be officially considered the oldest in any state other than Ukraine.
The motives of the representatives of the Russian administration of the occupied territories, who launched a campaign for the recognition of the East Crimean city as “the oldest in Russia”, are quite obvious. It is an attempt to gain weight among the regional establishment of the Russian Federation, to increase its importance in the eyes of the Kremlin and, of course, a way to attract more tourists and get additional funds from the federal budget. It is no secret that the celebration of anniversaries is a window of opportunity for attracting state subventions. It is also PR for the city, and what is very important in Putin’s Russia is ideologically sound PR. Dagestanis hoped to get tens of billions of rubles for the anniversary of Derbent. In fact, it turned out much less, however, and the Dagestan authorities have barely mastered this money.
The ideological veremia around Kerch began after it was discovered in 2015 by a Bosporus expedition led by an archaeologist, head of the department of the State Museum of the History of Fine Arts. O. Pushkin (Moscow) V. Tolstikov on top of Mount Mithridates in the oldest layer of the Panticapaea building and other artifacts of the late VII century. B.C. An important find from the occupied territory of Ukraine was immediately christened by the Russian ideological machine as “the oldest building in all of Russia.” In January 2016, at a meeting of the “Government of the Republic of Crimea”, “Deputy Prime Minister” L. Opanasyuk announced that Tolstikov’s expedition, which has been working on Pantikapaion for 40 years, made discoveries that give grounds to claim that “Kerch is the oldest city Russian Federation”. In June 2016, “the head of the government of the Republic of Crimea” S.Aksonov instructed the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Crimea and the East Crimean Museum-Reserve to start collecting information in order to prove it officially.
In August 2016, V. Tolstikov made a report at the international conference “Archeology and History of the Bosporus” on the findings that allow us to determine the age of Kerch in approximately 2650 years. In pursuance of Aksyonov’s instructions, at the end of 2016 the director of the East Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve T. Umrikhin prepared documents for the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences and government agencies for official recognition of the founding date of Kerch between 610-590 BC. Relevant certificates signed by the director of the Museum of the History of Fine Arts named after AS Pushkin, M. Loshak and V. Tolstikov, head of the field research department of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, A. Maslennikov. Their Crimean colleagues did not lag behind Russian scientists either – the official protocol on the age of Kerch was prepared by historians of the Crimean Federal University named after IN.Vernadsky “headed by the head of the Department of History of the Ancient World and the Middle Ages, archaeologist O. Herzen. In June 2017, the Russian media actively circulated Umrikhina’s statement that after Tolstikov’s report, the Academic Council of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences recognized that it was reasonable to talk about the turn of the VII-VI centuries BC. as the date of the founding of Pantikapaion during the colonization of Miletus, and therefore, “in Russia there is no older city than Kerch.”than Kerch.than Kerch.
However, Russia’s bureaucratic machine is slow. If the same T. Umrikhina in 2016 offered the Russian leadership to officially celebrate the 2600th anniversary of Kerch in two years, then in early 2018 she said that the process of official recognition of the new status of the city is difficult and need to do a big “paper” »Work. But the ideological machine of Russia works much faster. The exposition “Kerch – the oldest city in Russia” was opened in the East Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve. In the summer and autumn of 2018, the exhibition of the same name was held in Yekaterinburg, it is customary to exhibit items of the museum fund of Ukraine in violation of the law and simply civilized norms of treatment of cultural values.
And while these ideological games were going on, immediately after the annexation of Crimea, problems began with the iconic monuments of Kerch – the city’s business cards. The first to collapse was the famous work of the Italian architect Digby – Mithridates stairs, which lead from the central square of the city to the top of Mount Mithridates. In 2016, during Putin’s visit to Kerch, the Crimean leadership promised him that the necessary work would be carried out promptly, but the de facto situation only got worse after a huge number of piles were driven by “restorers” directly into the cultural layer of Mithridates. In 2018, the obelisk of Glory – the first monument to the Great Patriotic War (1944) began to collapse. In early 2019, according to one version, they were dismantled due to the threat of destruction and temporarily removed, and according to another – fell and damaged the columns of the ancient portico on Mithridates.Shouldn’t we expect problems with the oldest functioning Byzantine church in Ukraine next year – the Church of St. John the Baptist, located in the center of Kerch?
It is not known, but there is no doubt that Russia will continue to actively use the cultural resources of the occupied Ukrainian territories in the war against Ukraine. And regardless of common sense and law. The war continues, and the Kremlin’s ideological machine is spinning the flywheel of military propaganda, despite all the changes in Ukraine’s ruling Olympus. A state that has been attacked by Russia and the world should prepare for a protracted struggle to restore international law, as the Russian leadership has set itself up to implement a long-term strategy to change the world order…