Ukraine is preparing a bill of a resolution appealing to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to expel Russia from its ranks. The stated reason for the appeal is the destruction of cultural heritage perpetrated by Russia in the course of their invasion launched against Ukraine.
The draft of the resolution was submitted to the Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy. It reads:
“Ukraine has always shared the core principles of [UNESCO] and cared for the cultural heritage that is located in our territory. But artillery shelling, air and missile strikes launched by the Russian Federation and its leadership are aimed at destroying Ukraine's centuries-old historical and cultural heritage,” states the text of the drafted resolution. “In view of this, Ukraine considers it unacceptable for the Russian Federation to be present in UNESCO. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine calls on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to deprive the Russian Federation of the status of a UNESCO member state.”
The Parliament of Ukraine has also called on the global community of cultural scholars to support the programme of adequate funding for the restoration of historical and architectural monuments of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy has recently announced that it had already recorded 353 war crimes committed by the Russian army against the cultural heritage of the country, most recently the deliberate bombing of the recently-restored cultural and community centre in Lozova, Kharkiv Region, which was deliberately targeted for serving as a centre for humanitarian aid distribution.
“The invaders destroy and plunder our museums, theatres, churches. But they cannot break our spirit,” said Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Minister of Culture and Information Policy. “Our losses are the cultural losses of the world community. After all, the heritage of Ukraine is closely connected with the European and world,” he added and stressed that destruction of cultural heritage is a war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention and must be prosecuted.
The Kharkiv Region, which saw heavy fighting since the start of the war was worst affected in terms of destruction of cultural heritage, with 94 such instances, and 78 in the city and its immediate area alone. The second worst affected area was the Donetsk Region, with 72 crimes of the destruction of cultural heritage recorded, 52 of them in the city of Mariupol alone, which has been reduced to a sea of ruins following a lengthy siege of the city. The capital of Kyiv and the Kyiv Region reported the destruction of 65 such sites. The least affected areas were in the south and the west of the country.
The list also breaks down the damage into categories. Of the 116 heritage sites listed, constant shelling, rocket and bomb attacks led to the destruction of 21 monuments of national importance, 88 of local importance, and 7 of newly discovered objects of cultural heritage. Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy Yekaterina Chuyeva stated that the invaders are not even sparing places of worship, with 130 religious buildings damaged or destroyed, of which 49 are registered as monuments of history, architecture, and urban planning. “This is a purposeful action by the invaders against Ukrainian spirituality. The barbarians spare neither Orthodox nor Protestant churches, nor mosques or synagogues,” added Ms Chuyeva.
The list of the destroyed pieces of cultural heritage is closed by a list of over a hundred monuments honouring historical figures and events, cultural centres, libraries, theatres, and museums.