Zelenskyy calls on UNESCO to expell Russia following monastery shelling

Russian invaders have again shelled the Sviatohirsk Lavra monastery in the north of the Donetsk Region, where hundreds of civilians sought refuge, said Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Ukrainian Minister of Culture and Information Policy, on Saturday, June 4.

According to Minister Tkachenko, in addition to monks and nuns, 300 civilians took shelter in the monastery. He said that the refugees include invalids, the elderly, and some 60 children, among them babies.

As an effect of the shelling, the All Saints’ skete (hermitage), the largest wooden church in Ukraine, dating back to 1912, had caught fire. Due to the constant bombardment, no one is able to fight the conflagration.

UPDATE: President Zelenskyy calls for UNESCO to expel Russia

Following the shelling of the monastery, Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelenskyy called for Russia to be expelled from UNESCO. He said that the targetting of the Sviatohirsk Lavra was deliberate.

“Every Orthodox church burned by Russia in Ukraine, every blown up school, and every destroyed monument prove that there is no room for Russia in the UNESCO,” wrote the ukrainian leader on Telegram. He also drew some historical paralels: “It [skete] was blessed in 1912. First it was destroyed during the Soviet rule. Then it was rebuilt. Today it was burned by the Russian army.”

According to President Zelenskyy, no other country in Europe has destroyed so many monuments of cultural heritage since World War Two as Russia did during its invasion of Ukraine. According to him, this is another reason to entirely isolate Russia and that Russia “must answer for its crimes”.

Ukraine wants UNESCO to expel Russia, lists destroyed cultural heritage

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The structures of the monastery have been damaged or destroyed in March and in May, and three members of the monastic community have been killed. The shelling of the monastery, which is subordinate to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, is not the only case of wanton destruction of Ukrainian cultural heritage by Russians.

“We keep records of cultural monuments that were damaged or destroyed during the war. [...] Similarly, we are now calculating how we can determine actual financial losses from the destruction of our monuments,” Minister Tkachenko told the press. He stressed that “almost half of these 370 cultural monuments are churches of various denominations. In fact, when the Russians destroy Ukrainian heritage, they don't care whether these are their [spiritual sites] or not, they just destroy them."