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Ukraine appeals to The Hague due to damage to cultural heritage in Crimea

Damage to cultural heritage in Crimea: Ukraine applied to the ICC. Photo: pixabay / irinariviera

Damage to cultural heritage in Crimea: Ukraine applied to the ICC. Photo: pixabay / irinariviera

Ukraine sent an information appeal with evidence regarding crimes against cultural heritage in the Russian-occupied Crimea to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

As Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova informed on her Facebook page, the matter concerns war crimes against cultural heritage sites in the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimean peninsula.

According to her, the Office of the Prosecutor General and experts on international humanitarian and international criminal law of public organizations Regional Center for Human Rights, Euromaidan Crimea, as well as the Ukrainian Association of International Law have amassed evidence of these objects’ appropriation and destruction. Evidence of the expropriation and destruction of these values will be transferred in order for an investigation to be launched.

This refers to, in particular, such sites as the ancient city of Tauric Chersonesos and its chora; the historical environment of the capital of the Crimean khans in Bakhchysarai—the Khan's Palace, Chufut-Kale; Crimean Astrophysical Observatory; Tower of Constantine and Dock Tower in Feodosia; Church of John the Baptist in Kerch.

"The cultural values in the museums of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the cultural heritage located in this territory, are the property of the state of Ukraine, national wealth, an integral part of the national cultural heritage and are protected by both national legislation and international law."

Iryna Venediktova

Iryna Venediktova

Prosecutor General of Ukraine

The documents also mention cases of illegal archaeological excavations and modifications of cultural values in Crimea (the settlements of Kermen-Burun and Sivag-Kermen). It also refers to the illegal circulation of cultural documents, negligence in the process of the so-called "restoration" of cultural facilities, and illegal archaeological excavations. In addition, dozens of cultural heritage sites were destroyed during the construction of the Tavrida highway and the Crimean bridge that foster the further militarization of the peninsula.

Quote"Such actions are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and are qualified as a separate type of war crimes according to the content of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court," she said, adding that currently law enforcement officers of Crimea and Sevastopol are investigating 23 cases related to cultural values.

Context. Earlier it was reported that the Ukrainian economy incurred losses from the occupation of Crimea by Russia in the amount of about $135 billion, which amounted to 75% of Ukraine's GDP as of 2013.

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