News / Europe

Battles Loom Over Crimea's Cultural Heritage

Women push strollers in the park of Livadia Palace where U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin held the Yalta Conference in Yalta, Crimea, March 11, 2014.
Women push strollers in the park of Livadia Palace where U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin held the Yalta Conference in Yalta, Crimea, March 11, 2014.
Reuters
From the 16th-century Tatar Khans' palace in Bakhchisaray to the former tsarist residence that hosted the World War II Yalta conference, Crimea's heritage sites have become a source of bitter contention since Russia seized the region from Ukraine.
 
For Kyiv, which does not recognize Moscow's annexation of Crimea, losing the cultural and historic legacy of the Black Sea peninsula would be another major blow and Ukraine is readying for long legal battles with Russia.
 
“We will never give up the valuable heritage in Crimea because that is the property of Ukraine,” the country's prosecutor general, Oleh Makhnitsky, told Reuters on Wednesday.
 
Ukraine's Culture Minister, Yevgen Nishchuk, said Kyiv was amending its laws to seek justice internationally should Russia start removing cultural goods from Crimea or take over formal supervision of the region's heritage sites.
 
One exhibition, put together by five museums - including four in Crimea - and currently on display in Amsterdam, has already fallen hostage to the conflict over the region, the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
 
Both Crimea's pro-Russian authorities as well as Kyiv claim ownership of the exhibition, titled “Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, which features golden artifacts and precious gems dating back to the fourth century BC.
 
The show is operated by the University of Amsterdam and spokesman Yasha Lange said a legal investigation was going on to determine to whom the collection should be returned after it closes at the end of August.
 
“The exhibition should return to Crimea,” said Valentina Mordvintseva, who works for Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences in Crimea's provincial capital of Simferopol and who helped Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum set up the exhibit.
 
“So it has become a political issue,” she told Reuters. “If the things end up held in Kyiv, I think it would be bad for Ukraine itself because it would look like vengeance.”
 
She was referring to a March 16 referendum in Crimea, an impoverished region of two million with a narrow ethnic Russian majority, which yielded an overwhelming victory for those advocating a split from Ukraine to join Russia.
 
Kyiv and the West dismissed the hastily arranged vote as a sham but Moscow used it to justify formally incorporating Crimea on March 21.
 
Crimea has since then introduced the Russian ruble as its currency and switched to Moscow time, while Russian troops have taken over Ukrainian military bases, forcing Kyiv to pull out its soldiers with their families.
 
Tatars, Tsars and Stalin
 
Prosecutor Makhnitsky said the Justice Ministry in Kyiv was preparing to register lawsuits with international organizations to assert its rights to the historic and cultural sites in Crimea.
 
The ministry refused immediate comment on what exactly it plans to do, but any such endeavor is likely to be an uphill battle as Russia controls the region.
 
Underscoring how any efforts from Kyiv could face further obstacles, some directors of Crimea museums have welcomed unification with Russia in the hope it will lead to increased budget support from Moscow.
 
Valery Naumenko, director of a museum housed in the historic residence of the Crimean Khans in Bakhchisaray, complained that Kyiv had not allocated any funds for the upkeep of the palace, which is dominated by two slender minarets.

“Ukraine has no resources and no moral right after these two decades to put up a bigfight over Crimea's heritage,” he told Reuters.

“Everybody understands that the
A general view shows the Swallow's Nest castle overlooking the Black Sea outside the Crimean town of Yalta, March 28, 2014.A general view shows the Swallow's Nest castle overlooking the Black Sea outside the Crimean town of Yalta, March 28, 2014.
x
A general view shows the Swallow's Nest castle overlooking the Black Sea outside the Crimean town of Yalta, March 28, 2014.
A general view shows the Swallow's Nest castle overlooking the Black Sea outside the Crimean town of Yalta, March 28, 2014.
decision is taken and we must all get used to living under the new conditions.”
 
“The sooner politicians and culture workers in Kyiv understand that, the sooner life in Crimea and Ukraine will improve,” he said.
 
In the elegant Livadia Palace in Yalta, director Larisa Dekusheva said she hoped to see more Russian tourists, now that Moscow has said it is determined to make Crimea a more popular holiday destination.
 
The white stone palace, sitting on a slope with spectacular views over the Black Sea, was the last residence built for the tsars before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and served as a tuberculosis sanatorium afterwards.
 
In February 1945 the site hosted the seven-day Yalta Conference, when Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt made key decisions on the post-war order.
 
“It was originally the property of the Romanov family, that is of the tsars of Russia,” Dekusheva added, saying Moscow had historic rights to the palace and Kyiv should not seek any compensation.
 
Crimea's new government has angrily dismissed any talk of potential compensation claims for the property it nationalized in separating from Ukraine.
 
“We will not pay a thing, we will make our case in proper legal proceedings. If such claims are presented, we will come up with counterclaims,” Rustam Temirgaliyev, Crimea's First Deputy Prime Minister, told Reuters in late March.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid