UNESCO fears harm to Ukraine’s heritage sites

UNESCO fears harm to Ukraine’s heritage sites

UNESCO fears harm to Ukraine’s heritage sites

UNESCO warned of damage to Ukraine’s cultural heritage, as international cultural institutions stepped up their condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The agency has sounded the alarm about the damage to Ukraine’s cultural patrimony in announcing it was working to assess the invaded country’s educational and cultural institutions and its U.N.-designated heritage sites.

“We must safeguard this cultural heritage, as a testimony of the past but also as a vector of peace for the future,” said UNESCO’s director-general, Audrey Azoulay.

Ukraine is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the famous St. Sophia Cathedral and related monastic buildings in the capital Kyiv.

Other sites on the U.N. list are located in Lviv, Odesa and Kharkiv. All four cities have been subjected to artillery attacks and air bombardment by the invading Russian forces.

In a statement, Azoulay said the agency is coordinating efforts with Ukrainian authorities to mark as quickly as possible key historic monuments and sites across Ukraine with an internationally recognized sign for the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict.

Meanwhile, a Dutch museum said it has cut its close links to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

The Hermitage Amsterdam said it has long distanced itself from politics in Russia under President Vladimir Putin as it built close ties with the Hermitage, giving the Amsterdam museum “access to one of the world’s most famous art collections, which we could draw from” for exhibitions.

“Russia’s recent attack on Ukraine makes keeping this distance no longer tenable,” the Dutch museum said in a statement.

In another move to culturally isolate Moscow, the Swedish Academy that hands out the coveted Nobel Prize in Literature broke a long-standing practice not to make political statements and condemned the invasion.

The academy noted that its history and mission are deeply rooted in the traditions of freedom of expression, belief and inquiry.

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