Russia, since it occupied Ukrainian Crimea seven years ago, continues to violate the rights of people on the peninsula, as well as to plunder and destroy local cultural heritage. This is stated in the January 2020—July 2021 report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Russian Federation does not fulfill its obligations to preserve cultural heritage sites in the territory of the occupied Crimea.
"Russia has appropriated Ukrainian cultural property on the peninsula, in particular, 4,095 monuments of national and local importance that are under state protection... Russia uses such appropriation to implement its comprehensive long-term strategy to strengthen its historical, cultural and religious dominance over the past, present and the future of Crimea," the document reads.
To influence the cultural sector, the occupying country also:
- illegally exports artifacts from the peninsula (then "exhibits them in the Russian Federation with its own curatorial narratives");
- conducts unauthorized archaeological excavations (finds "go" either to Russia, or to the "black" market);
- destroys the cultural heritage of the indigenous Muslim people and makes their religion "a weapon against themselves";
- works that Russia calls "restoration" are performed on the peninsula by organizations that do not have the appropriate qualifications.
Thus, according to UNESCO, the Russian Federation "provides ideological and historical justification for its occupation of the peninsula for its citizens and the international community."
Additionally. In the summer of this year, the invaders began archaeological excavations that threatened the settlement of Chersonesos Tavriya. This site is included in the list of those that are under the UNESCO protection. The report notes that it is also harmed by the "religious and entertainment" activities held there by the occupation authorities. In addition, "the historical monument is used for propaganda purposes."
Context. In September 2016, the Russian Federation declared the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars an extremist organization.
In June of this year, the aggressor country recognized the Head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov, allegedly guilty of "organizing mass riots." He was sentenced in absentia to six years in prison, a fine of 200,000 rubles and 200 hours of correctional labor.