Russian Forces Pillage Cultural Institutions

(Kyiv, December 20, 2022) –Russian military forces and civilians operating under their orders pillaged thousands of valuable artifacts and artworks from two museums, a cathedral, and a national archive in Kherson before withdrawing after an 8-month occupation of the city, Human Rights Watch said today. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, its forces have reportedly looted at least five other cultural institutions in southern Ukraine – cases that amount to war crimes.

"In the final days of occupying Kherson, Russian forces loaded paintings, gold, silver, ancient Greek artifacts, religious icons, and historical documents onto trucks bound for Russian-controlled territories,” said Belkis Wille, crisis and conflict associate director at Human Rights Watch. “This systematic looting was an organized operation to rob Ukrainians of their national heritage and amounts to a war crime for which the pillagers should be held to account.”

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