UNESCO: Russia has appropriated over 4,000 monuments in Crimea, exports art artifacts.

The human rights situation in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol temporarily occupied by Russia continues to deteriorate, and UNESCO World Heritage sites and other cultural sites are being treated barbarically and looted by the occupation authorities.

This is stated in the UNESCO report on the follow-up of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea for the 212th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, Ukrinform reports.

As noted, the information was provided by the National Commission of Ukraine for UNESCO and the Permanent Delegation of Ukraine on the request of the Director-General of UNESCO. It contains a general overview of the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) temporarily occupied by Russia within the spheres of UNESCO’s mandate as well as relevant updates for the period since January 2020 until July 2021.

“Over seven years of occupation, 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,” reads the report.

UNESCO underscores that 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… 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 emphasizes.

It is noted that Russia 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.

UNESCO also highlights that illegal “archaeological excavations” are being carried out at cultural heritage sites 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. In particular, in June 2021, with the use of heavy equipment, “excavations” began that could threaten the status of the settlement of Chersonesos Tavriya. In 2013, “The Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora” was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Moreover, Muslim burial grounds have been demolished to build the Tavrida Highway, which leads to the newly built Kerch Bridge connecting the peninsula to Russia.

In the city of Bakhchysarai of the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimean Peninsula, illegally created bodies seized 32 real estate objects of the national monument “Khan’s Palace”, which are a part of the Bakhchysarai State Historical and Cultural Reserve.

UNESCO also points out that the occupation authorities denied Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars the right to education in their mother tongue.

As reported, in August the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine stated that it would file yet another communication on war crimes against cultural heritage sites in the temporarily occupied Crimea to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

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