Identity War in Ukraine: The Power of Cultural Resistance

UCLA/Getty Program's Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Ihor Poshyvailo, Director, National Memorial to the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and Revolution of Dignity Museum (Maidan Museum)

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UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in co-sponsorship with UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, and UCLA Social Sciences invite you to watch the recording of UCLA/Getty Program's Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Ihor Poshyvailo, Director of National Memorial to the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and Revolution of Dignity Museum (Maidan Museum). The lecture titled Identity War in Ukraine: The Power of Cultural Resistance took place on April 7, 2023 and focused on the full-scale attack of Russia on Ukrainian heritage and on the cultural resistance in times of war.

Main topics covered: EuroMaidan Revolution, war, attack on heritage, damage and losses, cultural response and art frontline, cultural emergency strategies, challenges. Context: almost a year ago Russian troops launched a massive missile attack on all sovereign territory of Ukraine and brutally crossed its border in tanks. Thus, how a full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war started.


Museums, libraries, archives and other cultural institutions responded to the threat in accordance with their capacities and military situation. The civilized world launched a "cultural lend-lease" for Ukraine, providing cultural institutions with packing and restoration materials, protective and emergency equipment, hard and cloud storages, humanitarian and financial assistance. Ukrainian museums, libraries, archives, scientific and art centers, getting such solidarity and help, began active rescue operations, assessing losses and risks, documenting crimes against culture. In a period of 11 months of the war, the Russians destroyed or damaged 1,189 cultural objects in Ukraine, according to records from the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine. Tens of thousands of artefacts were stolen from museum and private collections in the occupied regions. The looting of Ukrainian historical, cultural and artistic values, the purposeful destruction of museums, archives, libraries, theaters, cultural centers, monuments, and religious buildings is an intentionally planned military and ideological operation of the Kremlin regime. What should be done for complex processes of stabilization, early recovery and reconstruction of Ukrainian culture, an international tribunal against Russian military criminals, restitution of cultural values and promotion of Ukrainian culture worldwide? As well as for raising awareness of the experience of this war and measures to strengthen the stability of culture in times of crisis? These are the issues to discuss in the lecture.


Ihor Poshyvailo (Kyiv, Ukraine) ) is a general director of the National Memorial to the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and Revolution of Dignity Museum (Maidan Museum). He is a cultural activist, ethnologist, museologist, cultural manager and art curator. Dr. Poshyvailo is former chairman of the Museum Council at the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, a former Vice-Chair of the ICOM DRMC International Committee on Disaster Resilient Museums. He holds a PhD in History, and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and an international fellow at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.

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Duration: 01:03:46




I'm Glenn Wharton, Chair of the UCLA Getty

Departmental Program

in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage.

Welcome to another event

in our distinguished lecture series.

UCLA is a land grant institution.

And we acknowledge the Gabrielino/Tongva

peoples as the traditional land

caretakers of the Tovaangar - the Los Angeles

Basin and South Channel Islands.

We honor the elders, past and present,

and the descendants,

who are part of the

Gabrielino/Tongva nation.

We honor and respect the many

first peoples still connected to the land

on which we gather.

And we commit our work and service

to these values.

In this lecture series,

we invite leaders in allied fields

to reflect on larger issues

of cultural heritage conservation,

which spanned from technical research

and intervention on cultural materials

to larger concerns

such as authenticity, illicit trade,

repatriation and protection

during times of war.

Many of us have been looking

forward to today's lecture by

Dr. Ihor Poshyvailo,

who will tell us about the current

situation in Ukraine with regards

to the Russian theft and destruction

of Ukrainian cultural heritage.

He'll also explore some of the

motivations behind these acts.

Given the large size of the audience,

we won't be able to take live questions

during our discussion

following the lecture.

But if you do have questions,

please post them in the Q&A box

at the bottom of your screen

and we'll try to get to some of them

and we'll certainly pass them all

on to our speaker

After the event. We

will record the lecture

and post it on our website

for those who are unable to attend.

Today's event is co-sponsored

by the Center

for European and Russian Studies at UCLA.

Laurie Hart, Director of the Center

and Professor of Anthropology

and Global Studies,

will introduce our speaker.

But first, I'd like to point out that

Dr. Hart is a socio-cultural anthropologist

with a research focus on the long-term

effects of persons and communities

who have experienced ethno-political conflict.

With this background, she will no doubt

nurture the discussion following the lecture.

Laurie. Good morning, everyone,

and thanks for being here with us

and thank you, Glenn and the UCLA

Getty Conservation Program, for

inviting our participation in this event.

This is a moment to do everything we can

to keep Ukraine in our awareness

and in our consciousness.

As the war continues into its 14th month,

we are increasingly aware

of the depth of the toll of material

and human destruction and the severity

of the threats to democracy and freedom

and the environmental, bodily,

social and psychological costs of war.

We urgently need

to keep international attention focused.

We're really fortunate

to have with us this morning a speaker

who's been a core actor in the struggle

for the preservation

of cultural memory

and material heritage in Ukraine.

Ihor Poshyvailo

is a cultural activist,

ethnologist, museologist,

cultural manager and art curator.

Dr. Poshyvailo is a former chairman

of the Museum Council at the Ukrainian

Ministry of Culture, a former Vice Chair

of the International Committee

on Disaster Resilient Museums

at the Internation Committee on Museums.

He holds a Ph.D.

in history and was a Fulbright scholar

at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife

and Cultural Heritage and an

international fellow at the DeVose

Institute of Arts Management

at the Kennedy Center.

He is General Director of the

National Memorial to the Heavenly

Hundred Heroes and Revolution

at Dignity Museum,

also called the Maidan Museum.

That museum was founded

in the aftermath of the 2013-2014

rebellion against government corruption

and pro-Russian autocracy

that cost the lives of 108 protesters

and 13 police

and reestablished

the constitution in Ukraine.

Its aim was, and I quote

Dr. Poshyvailo's words here, to carve out

a space of freedom, a public space

of a new type, a place of lived stories

and true accounts,

a repository of collective memory

and laboratory of its reinterpretation.

From 2014 to the present,

he and his colleagues

have sought to sustain this vision

under the continuous violence

and plunder of war.

Please join me in welcoming Ihor Poshyvailo.


Oh, good morning, everyone.

I'm pleased and honored to join

the University of Los Angeles

speaker series program.

And thank you for this great opportunity.

Let me start.

Let me start my lecture.

I would like to have a talk

and discussion on the situation,

what's going on in Ukraine

concerning this dramatic war,

which we often name as identity war,

because cultural heritage, cultural sector

are the main targets in this situation.

So on February 22,

explosions woke me up in Kiev.

It was quite an easy situation

because Ukraine was not prepared.

Also, the war started in 2014, in fact.

Russian missiles, air strikes

and tank fires targeted not only

my family, my nation,

they targeted

our cultural identity, our centuries

old heritage.

Thus began

a full scale war.

Then it became a turning point

not only for Ukraine,

but for the whole of the world.

Despite all the narratives

spread by Russian propaganda,

the real motive behind

Russia's war is quite clear.

They are trying to destroy

Ukraine as a sovereign state

and to eliminate the Ukrainian people

as an independent and free nation.

So why did all this unprovoked

and unfair full scale aggression happen?

I will repeat Laurie, but

let me start by saying

that it is deeply symbolic for us

in Ukraine that the great Nelson

Mandela ended his earthly life

exactly the time when the Kiev

Euromaidan protest or Maidan briefly

was setting up its first barricades on the

other continent in the heart of Europe.

According to Paul Goble,

evaluation of Euromaidan, a new

nation was born in Ukraine,

was intrinsic

political belief in democracy and liberty.

This American analyst believes

that the name of the Ukrainian experience

of national genesis,

Maidan or the square, is

reminiscent of the ancient

Greek Agora, a public space

where people's assembly

would develop the principles

of people's authority, spreading

democracy all over the world.

This is another symbol, quite gloomy,

considering our present situation.

In 1961,

Moscow leader Nikita Khrushchev

declared that Russian missiles

would destroy Acropolis

in Athens, if necessary

for achievement of Russian goals.

The Greek prime minister of the time

replied to the Kremlin dictator

that Moscow could destroy the Acropolis

with its weapons,

but would never be able

to destroy the ideal of democracy

and personal freedom

that had been born there.

So the Euromaidan Revolution

was the first response to Russia's open

aggression towards Ukraine in 2014.

The biggest and longest in

European history, destroyed

Moscow's plans to seize

Ukraine stealthily, quietly,

through political collaborators

at the highest level of government

and using hybrid technologies.

So in the days following the corrupted

President Yanukovich's escape,

Russia attempted to split Ukraine,

making it look like a civil war

and occupied by part of its territory.

By invading Crimea in February 2014,

Russia started an armed war

against Ukraine.

Donetsk and Luhansk

regions have turned into a long-term

zone of temporary occupation

and military actions.

In response, the Maidan was transformed

into a powerful volunteer movement

in support of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Many of the protesters

replaced wooden shields

and makeshift, ammunition

for bulletproof body armor

and fire weapons, and set

out to defend the country.

The National Memorial to the Heavenly Hundred

Revolution of Dignity Museum, or briefly

the Maidan Museum, has progressed

from a public initiative to a state run

institution to become an important symbol

of the national memory,

freedom of rights

and cultural expressions.

We planned to launch the construction

of the Maidan Museum

in the very heart of Kiev this year.

The six storey building

was a total space of over 300,000

square feet is conceptualized

as a multi-functional space.

It was not only exhibitions

to display historical narratives,

but was House of Freedom

a children's museum,

creative laboratories,

art studios and platforms to experiment,

generate new senses and

perspectives, develop

cultural and civic activism.

Since Crimea and part of Donbas

were occupied by Russia in 2014,

It was a crucial need

for cultural activists in Ukraine

to obtain broader knowledge

on various aspects of emergency response

and resilience on the cultural sector,

to build capacities,

strengthen communities and inspire them

with the hope of sustainable future.

You can see the first museums

which were damaged in summer 2014

in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

And in this situation, of course we needed

much more knowledge.

We needed to understand

how world responds to such situations.

And so in particular, we in 2014

had established a museum emergency

headquarters, which however, did

not exist for long as the conflict

was localized in eastern Ukraine.

And nobody believed that it would be

fueled into a full scale invasion.

And you can see on the slide

some guidelines, toolkits

which we transformed, adopted, translated

due to international standards

and practices.

And you can see some from United States,

some European

publications, which became very,

very instrumental and very helpful to us

in that very first moments

when we had to respond.

But still, it was not systematic

and unfortunately Ukraine

was not ready to effectively

protect its cultural heritage

due to the lack of relevant knowledge,

resources, coordination

and most importantly, awareness

at the highest levels

of the role of cultural heritage

and Ukrainian identity in this war.

So Putin's

regime ignored the basic international

military and humanitarian laws,

including the Hague Convention of 1954,

and its Protocols on the Protection

of Cultural Property in the event

of armed conflict. Not spontaneously,

due to so-called military necessity.

The desire to reboot

the cultural identity of Ukrainians

was at the core of the Kremlin's

genocidal policy.

The Guardian journalist

Luke Harding aptly observed

that Putin sought to satisfy

his political ambitions of

enslaving language and identity

by using tactics familiar

and tested from Russia's dark past.

So bombs, destruction

and killings of civilians

are quite illustrative evidences.

And really, why not?

As Putin cynically declared a few days

before the full scale attack,

that Ukraine is an inalienable

part of Russian history,

culture and spiritual space.

And Russia uses not only history

but also culture

as a tool of the imperial policy.

This was clearly expressed

by the Director of the Hermitage

and president of the ICOM Russia,

Mikhail Petrovsky last summer,

speaking about the importance

of culture in this aggression,

he emphasized

in his interview

the exhibitions abroad

by heritage

were a powerful cultural offensive,

a kind of a special operation.

So it was very similar

to military operation

announced by Kremlin regime,

the result of such like offensive

speak for themselves during 408 days

of the war,

objects of cultural infrastructure

in Ukraine were damaged,

including over 500

destroyed, completely destroyed.

This statistics is according

to the Minister of Culture,

Information and Policy,

and you can see how many hundreds

of cultural centers, historical buildings,


religious sites,

monuments, libraries, museums, theaters

and philharmonic

have been damaged or destructed.

Before the war,

the cultural

sector of Ukraine was quite big.

It was consisted

of about 40,000 institutions

in which more than 200,000 people worked.

Of them, more than 7%

are occupied at the moment.

And about 2% were destroyed or damaged.

And this resulted in about 12,000

cultural workers

becoming forcibly displaced.

More than 600 of them

are serving in the armed forces

and 80,000 becoming unemployed.

Also, some statistics

about the scale of the damage.

According to a few days ago, you m

estimations, the war caused damage

to Ukraine's heritage and cultural sites

of approximately

Dramatic pictures of the destroyed

heritage sites, historical buildings,

museums, memorial memorials,

churches, mosques and synagogues,

cultural and art centers became

well known.

And of course, the scale of destruction

saw even the US

President Joseph Biden, who called the war

in Ukraine brutal and added

that Putin is not only trying to take over


he's trying to destroy the culture

and identity of the Ukrainian people.

Here you can

see some iconic examples

of the cultural damage

starting from the Mariupol drama

theater, where hundreds of residents

tried to escape Russian air bombing.

But in vain.

They put the signs in front and beside

this building,

the children in the big letters sold.

The aircrafts with bombs can see about

at the moment to be killed

during those airstrikes.

One more example you can see here,

one of the first destroyed

wooden churches dated

and the History Museum

in the town of Taluka in the Sunni region.

On the left,

the official statistics

by the Ministry of Culture

and Information Policy, of course,

is shocking about incomplete,

as Ukraine has no access

to temporally occupied territories,

it cannot assess

the range of damage there.

Therefore, satellite laboratories

of the U.S.

and Great Britain help to monitor

the condition of cultural objects,

providing information from the regions

temporarily not under the control

of Ukraine, and documenting the facts

of intentional attacks on heritage.

A vivid example is the monitoring

of Ukraine's over

by the Smithsonian Institution

and the Cultural

Monitoring Lab in Virginia.

And there is an urgent need for this,

of course, for this monitoring,

satellite monitoring.

And according to one of our partners,

Bryan Daniels,

and an anthropologist

and director of research

and programs at the Center

for Cultural Heritage

at the University of Pennsylvania Museum,

he also works with the Smithsonian

Heritage Rescue Initiative

and the Heritage Monitoring Laboratory

at the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

And we got a lot of information

about intentional damage

of a number of Ukrainian cultural heritage

sites and museums in particular.

And according to a Brian Daniels,

a Russian theft of artifacts in Ukraine

is a strategy

to undermine the identity of Ukraine

as a separate, independent country.

This evidence is also confirmed

by other sources

official statements of representatives

of the military,

civilian administration,

private and public social networks,


in the media, reports of cultural workers,

and even information

from the occupied territories.

So on October 14, 2022,

the Russian media Izvestia

published an article

about the so-called replenishment

of the Museum Fund of Russia

by 44,000 works of art

with a total value

of over a billion rubles.

And of course, all that artworks are from

art looted from from Ukrainian territory.

It's also important

that it seems all the world and.

STAMBERG The destruction of Ukrainian

culture becomes an objects of war.

And it's so special

in the case of Russia's attack on Ukraine.

And the researcher

in the former undersecretary

of the Smithsonian Institution clearly

put it in his article, which was published

in the Smithsonian magazine,

about the cultural destruction in Ukraine.

So the

war crimes against culture were enlarged

by looting and illegal

trafficking of cultural objects

from Keynesians and private collections

to non-controlled territories

and to the Russian Federation.

The cases of looting collections

from the Mariupol Art

and History Museum and Queens Art Gallery

and the Taupo Museum

are illustrative and so dramatic.

As soon as Mobile was captured,

the occupants whole the way

the original paintings of are hip, green

and even the use of unique icons

and other valuable exhibits

from local museums.

The Mariupol Museum of Local Law

was destroyed by shelling

and almost all of its stock collection

burned in the fire, except rarities

that were illegally relocated to Russia.

One more example Yukimura Beth's

unique collection of over 700 exhibits

was also stolen from the unique museum

of Medallion Art in Mariupol

in the occupied top

Russians hunted mostly in gold

and archeological collections

of the fourth century B.C.

At the Local History Museum,

its employees were kidnaped,

as is director Leyla Ibrahimova

and interrogated with torches.

As a result, historical weapons

and about 2,000 items

made of silver and gold were stolen,

including about 200 pieces

of golden jewelry from the [. . .]

fourth century B.C.

and about 100 golden

items of the [. . . ] period

third, fifth centuries A.D.

Russians also looted

dozens of thousands of exhibits

from the museums in the Kherson region.

Among them, almost all the paintings

from the Kherson Art Museum,

including the most valuable

dated 17th-19th

centuries, including unique items,

but they left intact only

some of this social realism,

paintings and 20th century

artworks by local artists.

The Kherson Museum of Local Law also lost

about 10,000 artworks of its collection,

including lapidary, archeology

and historical jewelry.

Some details of Russian

special operation in Kherson.

According to the witnesses

of that situation,

the museum collections were looted

by especially organized teams

of dozens of people.

About a half dozen

trucks come to the museum

to relocate the collections.

They organize that kind of security

and constructed special road

blocks around the building so

not many people can see what's going on.

And at the same time,

according to some witnesses,

they disregarded elementary museum

norms during this so-called operation

loading artistic values,

objects as ordinary load objects.

Interesting that

some of the stolen items

were taken to temporarily occupied Crimea

and some of them,

in particular paintings

from the Kherson Art Museum

were identified at the Tavrida Central

Museum in Simferopol and

in this slides

you can see these looted artworks

just stalled in the corridors of the museum

in temporary occupied Crimea.

There are so many such facts,

and this once again confirms

the systematic attack

on Ukrainian identity

in the context of so-called


proclaimed by Russia.

Putin demonstrated his

readiness and willingness

to repeat the crimes of the first

gathering, the second Lenin, Stalin

and other leaders of Russian imperialism

and dictatorship, genocide by repressions,

starvation by hunger or warfare.

Thus, not only the looting of Ukrainian

historical, cultural

and artistic values,

but also the intentional

destruction of museums,

archives, libraries, theaters,

cultural centers, monuments,

religious buildings, is a carefully planned

military and ideological operation

of the Putin regime.

An intentional missile attack

on the Ivankiv museum also reported to be

is the first intentionally constructed

museum in key region was a unique

collection of works of painting,

including of the famed world

famous Maria Primachenko

whose paintings were

admired by Pablo Picasso,

as well as the [. . .]

museum, very, very symbolic,

iconic museum for

Ukrainian culture and history

in Kharkiv region has been confirmed

by international experts.

Such like crimes against humanity

are carefully documented

by law enforcement officers,

military prosecutors,

office advocacy groups, volunteers.

And the only one hope that Italy lead.

Later, all these documents will bring

the perpetrators of cultural genocide

in Ukraine

to the tribunal.

From the first days of missile

missile strikes,

Ukrainian museum libraries and archives

and other cultural institutions responded

to the threat through their capabilities

and the military situation.

Some have started the evacuation

of cultural values, but what others?

Unfortunately, it was already too late.

The territories were occupied

the same day on the 24th.

On the 25th of February.

At the same time, cultural activists,

in cooperation with local authorities

and communities, turned public spaces

into cultural barricades,

sheltering monuments and sculptures

for state decorations

and other artistic and historical objects

with OSB panels and sandbags

for protection.

The solidarity of the whole world

coming together to protect culture

in Ukraine

in times of war is unprecedented in scale.

The Heritage

Emergency Response Initiative, briefly

HERI, was launched to respond to this

crisis, and I am happy to be a co-founder

of this initiative.

Its goals are to promote

and contribute to the preservation

of cultural heritage during wartime.

Of course, coordination assessment

and documentation of losses

and damages,

also modification and mobilization of war.

And what is very important

for us, even today during the war,

ongoing war, we are thinking about

what will be in the future.

So we

we are thinking about postwar recovery,

a reconstruction and modernization

of our culture, of course, increasing

resilience to emergencies and increasing

our cultural sector in general.

And here you can see

some examples of partnerships and actions.

We created a wide national network

of museums, archives,

libraries, partnerships, coordinating

all activities with national

and international governments and NGOs.

And the primary founders of Haiti

were the Maidan Museum

and NGO Toussaint from Lille.

And of course, we coordinate

our activities Minister of Culture

and other

national international organizations.

You can see that

in the first weeks of the war,

the biggest challenge

we face was the need to evacuate

the most valuable collections

to safe storage and to provide financial

and technical support to employees

of cultural institutions in the war zone.

And we have been constantly

monitoring information about the situation

and needs of museums, archives, libraries,

both individually

and at the specially developed

digital web platforms.

So we have provided

since the organization's active

organizational assistance,

direct operations consultations

to over 300 cultural institutions

from 24 regions of Ukraine.

And the protection of

national identity is impossible

without supporting people

who take care of national heritage.

And many of them have found themselves

in a particularly desperate situation,

forced to leave their homes,

lost the work place.

Some risked their safety

to preserve objects of cultural heritage.

Some have been completely absorbed

in volunteering

and helping their colleagues,

and some even lost their lives

protecting cultural heritage.

For example, in my museum, out of 50

staff members, eight people are in

the frontlines at the moment.

And to illustrate this, I would like to

tell you

one case, one story

about an electric generator.

On March 22, the city of [ . . .]

claimed a museum city because a lot of

churches, museum there, was sieged

by Russian troops,

unable to capture the city.

The Russian army heavily shielded

like many other city buildings.

The basement of our historical museum turns

into a 24/7 bomb shelter.

Dozens of townspeople

were hiding in the museum

without electricity, heat,

water, food in those days.

And to respond to the request

to provide them some help,

the HERI ordered, received from Italy,

one of the first generator electric

generators due to Cultural Heritage

International Emergency Force from Italy.

The bridges around

[. . .] were blown up,

the generator was fuel

and some food was handed

by us to volunteers in Kiev

who planned to deliver humanitarian

aid to Chernihiv by using field roads,

hidden field roads not open roads

and crossing the river.

On their way back,

the volunteers on the five

minivans planned to evacuate

more than

from local orphanages.

In the village of [. . .] near Chernihiv,

Russian troops shelled

the colony of five volunteer vans.

Volunteers were injured

and three of them killed,

including husbands

of a Ukrainian parliament member

and the 19 year old

girl named Anastasia.

We found the site later and brought

what has been left from the generator

to tell this story.

At our exhibition, that opened recently,

Identity, War, Power

of Cultural Resistance.

And you can see the pictures

from he site.

So protecting cultural

heritage is always quite dangerous

and it can cost the human lives.


we reproduced a lot of packaging materials

and can see

some of


We got protection, protective equipment

and which we got

from many international organizations,

museums, governments, equipment.

Here you can see very important for us

message which we

had found among the packaging materials

from the team of Louvre.

Good luck. We are with you.

So suchlike things are so

So what are you waiting for us?

And we are grateful

to this kind of support.

We also provide them a lot of expeditions

all over Ukraine, mostly to the occupied

or to endangered regions.

And here you can see

some of some of the pictures we provide.

Assessment of damage aerial photography

by drone

make laser

scanning for creating 3D models.

We rescue objects and records oral stories

from the ground.

And here you can see

also one of our field trips,

including Ikram and I Icomos


And we

we also created a mobile application

for damage and the risk assessment

on the job form platform.

So it's very,

very instrumental for us at the moment.

And also,

here's the example of the 3D model.

Unfortunately, it is not working here, but

we create a are

and we are a reality models and 3D models,

so they will help us also monitor

the situation of the buildings

to provide action plans to stabilize them.

And later, of course, they will be very

important for reconstruction processes

are also some example

of our rescue operations.

You've seen on the announcement

of this lecture, this famous and green

ceramic rooster,

and we one of the first our

cultural operation

to Urban, the town of Duncan near Kiel.

And we rescued the well known

at the moment kitchen cabinet

with ceramic rooster

a symbol of Ukrainian resilience

and it the only one object survived

in that building.

And we documented it and

how having fantastic materials

to to to share to display

also quite important for is to provide

educational consultations

to Ukrainian army

on protecting cultural property

in times of war.

According to 1954 Hague

Convention and its protocols.

And you can see some results.

We at least we have three cases

since to 2020 to

recall that when Ukrainian soldiers

saved archeological findings

during military actions

and pass them to the museums.

Of course, we have a lot of challenges and

most of them are well discussed

and we try to to respond to them.

We need crisis management leadership,

of course we need coordination.

We need a lot of very important things.

And I

so we we will over this and

we hope

we're looking for the future with hope,

working on

establishing of a cultural emergency

response and resilience system.

You can see just a draft of our vision

to respond to the challenges.

And of course

there are a lot of things to do.

A lot of things which should be done

means starting from very simple

on a tactical level

and finalizing on the strategic level.

At the moment we are looking over.

So the strategic plan for recovery.

Did you plan for Cultural Emergency

Response system in Ukraine, harmonization

of Ukrainian cultural legislation

to international laws

creating mobile groups

and documenting crimes

and trying and helping

ICC International Criminal Court?

Was this trying to digitize

not only mobile

but immovable cultural objects?

So a lot of things should be done

at the moment and international

expertise, international

capacities in this crucial for us

and to conclude, because I know that

I'm running out of my time,

you can see that basic actions needed.

But I have to conclude

finally, and I'd like to express

my strongest belief

the culture has the power to inspire hope

it change the world around us.

We only have to be united

in our minds and actions.

And let me paraphrase Malala Yousafzai,

a young Pakistani

social activist and Nobel Prize winner,

who said one book, one pen, one child,

one teacher,

and I would add one

cultural institution can change the world.

And we cranium culture.

This dramatic time of the war for identity

becomes an opportunity

to regain our historical memory,

rediscover our cultural identity,

make our heritage

well protected and accessible

to the rest of the world.

And of course, for us, it's a chance

to tell our story

of fighting for freedom and the future.

Thank you so much

for your attention

and for standing with Ukraine.


thank you for that.

Your lecture's quite overwhelming.

You know, I was

so many questions came up to my mind.

And I see

we have a few in the Q&A already.

You know, I was struck by your labeling

the war as an identity war.

And also I saw that one of our audience,

audience members, Terry Shenkman,

suggested that it be characterized

as a brutal, illegal invasion.

But I'm just

I mean, clearly the Russian theft

and destruction of Ukrainian

cultural heritage from ancient artifacts

to modern materials, museums, archives,

cultural sites is intentional.

It's an effort to destroy

and take ownership of Ukrainian identity

and cultural memory.

You touched on this, but I'd like it

if you could expand a little bit

on the reaction to this

among the Ukrainian people.

Is it

strengthening the this

remarkable resistance

that we've witnessed over the past year

for Ukraine, for

for many Ukrainians, this war, especially,

it's for a full scale stage.

It came in kind of a shock and shock

and like a catharsis

because and also a great chance

and many motivation to rediscover

the historical memory, to discover

the identity level, the cultural,

but also national and even individual,

especially for those people,

for those communities

who lived for decades or even centuries

under the munition

of the Bolshevik, Soviet

or Russian propaganda

and the Rediscovering.

Since regaining

Ukraine's independence in 1919, as you won

a lot of information and a lot of cultural


cultural treasures, cultural objects

which were imprisoned for decades

and even centuries, became open to public.

A lot of historic

historical documents became open.

And so the process of really understanding

and understanding our past started.

And of course, the processes

like the immunization,

trying to get rid of those propaganda.

And we share and all the stereotypes

and all the myths which were created

and and substituted the real story,

the real history,

the real because you know

that we knew about a lot of historians

speak about Ukraine that we have

for centuries just to survive,

because we have every century,

we have with light,

like the communist time regime, 1930.

We had those communist repressions

in 1918, 1921,

we had Ukrainian revolution.

And not many people know about this.

The whole of the world even celebrates

the Russian Revolution in 1917,

but in fact it was attempts

for all of Ukraine

to gain its independence

in 1918, 1921, and the rest of the world

did not supported them.

It's interesting that

even speaking about the culture in 1918,

the Ukrainian governments

by plural, for example,

they sent a special choir

with a special cultural

diplomacy mission to Europe

and even United States.

And we call a little Polish composer,

young composer.

His music was played

because this choir had the mission

to tell the story about Ukraine.

Ukraine is not Russia.

Ukraine, this independent nation was was,

was a centuries old history

and their own personal cultural identity.

And this choir performed the concerts

and this Mikhail Olympia, which was killed

by a big uncover

their Russian agent in 1921

and the one of the famous

music by Polish Shadrach.


it is well known as Kettle of the Bell.

So the whole of the world knows that

all of the world.

But they do not know the story.

Similar was in Ukraine.

We just revealed our history

recently, 30 years ago when Ukraine became

the regained independence.

So for many people try this,

you know, when people started to wake up,

they really try to understand

what's going on.

And the Russian propaganda,

of course, they were targeted only because

on the one hand they said that

we are one nation, that we are one people.

On the other hand, they understand

that our cultural identity,

that's what keeps us absolutely different.

And they tried to destroy this

by destroying people

bearers of our intangible culture

and of course, tangible.

So for us, it's quite clear this way

we speak about

about about identity war, because

Putin did not need new territories.

The Russia is so huge country.

They don't need only our territories.

Also the resources in eastern Ukraine.

They want to conquer Ukraine and to regain

a new kind of Soviet Union,

because as he admitted,

it was his personal biggest tragedy

and it was, according to him, the biggest

political mistake of the world.

When the Soviet Union collapsed.

So it's it's it's quite clear for us

why why this war is is identity war.

Let me follow up with a question about the

the actual sort of success,

you might say, of the Russian attempt

to appropriate

Ukrainian cultural heritage and artifacts

and the involvement of the professional

level of expertise that's gone into this.

Often people

assume that in context of war, plunder

is some kind of random

and as you clearly said,

this one is not a random kind of assault.

So I wonder if you could say some

something about the

the success, the

the success that that Russia

has accomplished in this sphere

as opposed to I mean, people have

said much about Russia's

military miscalculations and deficiencies.

But here in the cultural sphere,

they seem to have had,

as you say, a strategy in place that is

that has been despite,

you know, despite chaos,

uncannily effective.

And so I wonder if you could you could say

a little bit about the actors

involved in planning and executing this


In fact,

according to them,

that of the information we

we gather and analyze,

draw some damage goes of course is

is random damage

because of military actions

what's not but according

to even international analysts,

international or international police,

there is information that in Ukraine

where it operates, several groups of


were hunting for four different types

of historical precious objects.

Art items

from different points of view.

For example, some groups are hunting for

art paintings

for paintings, for example, by artists

who whose origin can be disputed

so that Russia can claim

that they are not Ukrainian.

They are Russian artists, for example,

I mentioned

before, for example,


or even I was asking people of maybe

Armenian origin or people

who were born in Russia or the German.

Jablonski For example,

or the Russian doll.

Some people who were born in Eastern

Ukraine, who were born

in Russia or what

in Ukraine and identify themselves

as Ukrainians.

So Russia claim

that they are Russian artists

and we at this collection of the relocate

and say, okay, then our

and we know that even internationally

there is an interesting process when

when metropolitan for

example museum

and in many European museums

Stedelijk museum for example

they try to identify in saying

that they are not Russian artist

but Ukrainian like Malevich, like Esther.

And so so this is one kind of

of of, of direction, the other direction.

This, of course,

some monetary and historical value.

So people would like to get

the most precious like keeping gold

excuse in gold but important for Russians

maybe you know that suit

the so-called let's in gold fields

in in the Netherlands the collection

in some museum disputed gold

from Crimea and Ukraine

finally one that suits

and that collection will return

not to occupied Crimea but to Ukraine

also a lot of private groups

who are looking only to one authority.

For example,

Archeological Blick is very active.

They were quite active

before the large scale aggression

because the the eastern Ukraine,

especially the border of military action,

the Cybulski Donetsk River,

a lot of burial mounds there.

And so the black archeologists work

so intensively

there now

and we cannot know what's going on there.

And a lot of individual looters,

like soldiers who looted

museums, cultural institutions,

a lot of private collection in the houses

and then in Belorussia,

there is a kind of a flea market where

people saw

not all the average objects which Russian

soldiers sell as a trophy, but

also art objects from private collections

and for public collections.

So there are a lot of and we work

a lot together now to launch the process.

For example, the red list

I comradely Ukraine was issued

for auction houses for Interpol

or for borders

also we work with I see with other groups

trying to create a database

on the looted objects. So

so the process is very complicated

and in some groups at the moment

think about repatriation and restitution.

What we should do

is a very complicated process.

And but still we have hope

that it will be successful.

I have another question, and fortunately,

a similar question just popped up

into the question answer box.

But I also want to ask you

another question came in

that you may not be able to answer right

now, but maybe we could do this

through email later.

One of our audience members was interested

in the source of your statement

by your Trajkovski.

If you don't know

that right away, we can maybe


And whoever asked that question

could email me on that.

You can find my address on our Web site

and we could try to get that to you.

Do you have an answer to that or should?

Yes, Concerning concerning decisions,

you can find that online

because it was a kind of a scandal

concerning this.

You can see you can find it

in open sources in Internet.

The ICOM Ukraine even issued

the special statement concerning this,

so it's usable easily

you can easily find in open sources.


I was going to save this

salubrious to the very end,

but since it came up in the question

and box,

I'll ask it.

I'm just really struck by the amount of

work that you're doing, the documentation,

even laser

scanning of damage,

developing this red list of objects.


there's a lot of going on to prepare

for the aftermath of this war,

of the during recovery stages.

And even criminal prosecution

in international courts

is so

and I'm struck by the of help

you're getting by international NGOs.

And I know that the Getty just provided

or Getty Foundation

just provided

$1,000,000 and others have as well.

How can individuals,

educators and artists and conservators

and others help in your current effort?

Are there

in addition to sending money?

I suppose there might be some places

where we could just send checks.

But also, is there

other other things that we could be doing?

There are quite a number,

quite a big number

of different coalitions.

For example,

I, I, i commerce unit, school.

And so we work in groups, in clusters,

so you can join and see

what kind of projects are provided.

Because since one year

this cluster has already been formed

and they're specializing

in different kind of help.

For example, World Monument Fund,

quite a global heritage fine provided

together with the Aleph and Europa

Nostra funds for supporting individual

cultural, cultural people

all the, all the individual.

There are some clusters or coalitions

who work over stabilization efforts.

You can find some information on the

website of Ukrainian Ministry of Culture.

How is it possible to donate

money or resources expertise,

how to join the initiative?


you can find us here on social media.

We will launch the website soon

in in the months.

So we will provide all information.

What kind of initiative

already operates today in Ukraine

and the brought to help Ukraine.

But in fact, there are a lot of levels.

For example, in Lugano, our governments


presented the plan for recovery

and it will be a conference in London

very soon.

Also about recovery plan

for Ukraine and cultural heritage

and cultural sector will be included

the first time there.

So it will be also a great chance

to understand the what's,

what are the priorities and how possible

to join on different levels,

on a funding level, on expertise level.

So so thank you so much

for for this question because we

we got so many questions like this

even in the first day of full scale

aggression, How we can help you.

It was not easy to answer in that time,

but much easier today.

Maybe I'll follow up on that

with another question

regarding international assistance

and initiatives.

There's a question in the in the audience

from the audience about ICOM

Germany's call to ban ICOM

Russia members and whether or not cultural

heritage should be used to build bridges

or in fact if the travesties

being committed by Russia

so are so extreme that a stance

needs to be taken by the world community.

So I wonder if you could comment on

whether or not legal sanctions of any kind

we have international treaties

that are not being observed.

How you see the international community

and some of these legal sanctions

or official organizations

can contribute to the

initiatives that you have on the ground.

But also

for us, it's very, very painful subject

because we were very surprised

that no voice

in certainly this war

from the cultural sector, from Russia,

even like Russia, is quite silent

in this situation.

And of course, we would like to

make bridges, but in this situation,

it's look like big hypocrisy because

because there is

there is there is a systematic destruction

of Ukrainian cultural heritage

and icon museums, for example.

We have seen the statistics,

but Russia is just so silent.

And silence in many cases means

agree with just support

of the official Putin's policy.

So banning

banning, banning the Russian cultural


or presence on international level,

it's also one of the

one of the kinds of of of how to say

of the

international voice what can be done

because not international

and thus committing to not done

a lot in the situation.

But when there will be

a kind of a position

that it would it should not be done

in this way, something should be changed

and we should, of course,

sit at the table, but not now.

Not when the aggression is

not is not completing.

It's west versus it's going is developing

and process.

It's a devastation.

It's such a tragic tragedy on the one hand

and on the other hand.

So we understand that we should

we should understand the reason

why it happens and what should be done.

All all those sites who are directly

or indirectly a part of this war,

I mean, initiator of this should be

punished this or that way or isolated

in in terms of that, maybe

as we get towards

the end of the discussion, I can ask you

a little bit about resistance

on the ground in the cultural sphere.

And I think it has two dimensions

perhaps you could comment on.

The first is the dimension

of just ordinary people.

What are they seizing on

to express their affiliation, identity,

their emerging new cultural


As you know, as you

as you have told us so well,

Ukrainian culture is in process,

and I am wondering how people

are expressing that on the ground.

And the other part of that question,

of course, is how

artists themselves are involved in

confronting this situation.

And at the moment,

speaking both local communities,

they they many of them are so active

and they participate in the process

of developing our cultural heritage

in a resilient, resilient forms.

For example, in many cases of the cultural

infrastructure of them, which

the local people

were main actors

because they helped to locate

famous artworks.

For example, in one Q

the collection of Mariupol

was rescued due to local people

and in many other situation,

even in occupied Donetsk

in 2014, that Donetsk museum was damaged

and local people

not thinking about any politic politics.

They just help museum staff to evacuate.

Speaking about an artist in avant garde

of creating identity of this resilience.

And so they organize exhibitions,

they work abroad.

I mean, they they they develop

a lot of joint international

and national art projects.

And for example, our even culture

institutions try to be very resilient

and active,

even in times of war, in times of constant

every day alarms,

because the creative collections,

they are empty,

but they organize new exhibitions,

they organize educational programs,

they try to be helpful

for local communities, providing bookings

to them, trying to take all of this

trauma, traumatic elements,

trying to talk to them.

And most of the museums are open to public

and we can see a lot of people

visiting museums.

So there is a big demand for cultural life

in Ukraine, even in times of war.

So this makes

our cultural sector quite resilient

because we understand

what are the real needs

and how people really appreciate and

and develop and what people read, but

they feel that this is a very important

part of their role

human life, their essence, their soul.

And so it's a very important part

for Ukrainian cultural heritage

and cultural sector

too, to have the second

how to say push of development

and modernization

and rethinking their missions

and strategies.

One of the things one of the things

that struck me about the work of young

Ukrainian artists at this moment

is that the form of resistance

they're engaging in is also

a resistance to extreme

ethno-nationalism on all sides

and their effort to

to forge a new identity,

not only for themselves,

but in reaction to events

in other parts of Europe, as well

as a pluralistic and multicultural

and non-exclusive kind of a new identity

that really incorporates sectors

of Ukrainian society that might not even

have been incorporated before.

And of course, of the international

community and reaching out across borders.

So they are a striking young generation

of creators.

And it's interesting to see how important

the cultural sector has become

in this particular moment

and that we consider to be political.

We are a few minutes over.

Maybe we should end

with that positive thought.

And certainly we've we've had a resurgence

of Ukrainian music and dance

and art exhibits in Southern California

over the last year,

which many of us have been attending.

There is one one other question, maybe

I'll just try to quickly answer that about

treating damage

to Ukrainian cultural materials,

postwar I think, you know,

I would like to hope that there will be

a lot of efforts among conservators

around the world to help in the

conservation here of damaged artifacts.

So we can all look forward to that

to get into that point.

So you are just like to thank you

for that really impactful lecture

and my discussion.

And to Lori and the Center for European

and Russian Studies

for co-hosting this event.

And I'd also like to thank those

that have provided financial support

for our program

and this distinguished lecture series.

The support helps us

create this programing and provide

opportunities for our students

as well, who are engaged in researching

critical issues

in the conservation of cultural heritage.

So thank you all.

As a reminder, the recording of

the lecture will be posted on our website.

Thank you for joining us. Thank you.

Duration: 01:03:46