A collection of paintings from the Oleksii Shovkunenko Art Museum in the capital of Ukraine’s occupied Kherson region has been removed and transferred to a museum in Russia’s annexed Crimea, according to museum authorities.
The paintings, by renowned artists including Ivan Pokhitonov, Piotr Sokolov, Leonid Chichkan and Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo, were transported from Kherson to the Taurida Museum in unmarked trucks in early November, according to the Kherson Art Museum.
“Exhibits from the Kherson Art Museum arrived at the Central Taurida Museum in Simferopol in a truck without a license plate,” the Kherson Museum said in a Facebook post.
The Central Taurida Museum in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, confirmed the transfer of the works to the Moscow Times on Thursday.
“Due to the introduction of martial law in the territory of the Kherson region, I was instructed to temporarily store the exhibits of the Kherson Art Museum and ensure their safety until they were be returned to their rightful owner,” museum director Andrei Malgin said. said.
The Kherson Art Museum, located in the center of the city of Kherson, has been closed since the city fell to Russian forces at the start of the Russian invasion.
The looting of the works, called a “crime” by the museum, is the latest example of Russian troops removing important cultural artefacts from Ukraine in what Kyiv calls a deliberate campaign to wipe out Ukrainian heritage.
“For three days now, Russian looters have been taking out all the paintings. They are loading them into their huge cars. Without any protection, without any packaging, like garbage,” a Kherson resident told Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta last week, adding that Russian occupation forces had been “more careful with stolen washing machines” than they were with the city’s artistic heritage.
In March, Kyiv accused Moscow of looting more than 2,000 works of art from the Kuindzhi Museum in Mariupol, named after local realist painter Arkhip Kuindzhi.
“[Russia] is trying to ruin everything related to our cultural heritage,” Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko told Euronews last month, accusing Russian forces of destroying or severely damaging around 500 museums and cultural institutions in Ukraine since the start of the war.