when She learned that Russian troops were marching into the Zaporizhzhya region and helped load a truck with a large quantity of paintings, antique firearms and 17th-century pottery. “In five days she drove 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). There was a plane flying over us and we didn’t even know if it was Ukrainian,” she recalls.
“The hardest part for us was convincing the checkpoint people not to search for the artwork and let the truck pass as quickly as possible.” Chergik has been a Ukrainian Cossack base since the 16th century. Curator of Khortytsia, a museum island on the Dnipro River of approximately 30 square kilometers (11.6 square miles).
It was the home of the first Zaporizhid “sic”. A type of Cossack state ruled by direct democracy, it survived until her 1775, when the Russian Empress Catherine II destroyed it. This is a “sacred place for Ukrainian history,” said Maxim Ostapenko, his 51-year-old director of the Hortitsia Reserve. Hortitsia Reserve is an important Ukrainian cultural center, housing, among other things, dozens of historical relics discovered during over 2000 years of archaeological excavations. Year.
Ostapenko and most of his colleagues joined the Ukrainian army early in the invasion. But that doesn’t mean they abandoned the museum. “To tell the truth, we outlined an evacuation plan in 2014 after Crimea was annexed by Russia,” said Ostapenko. The curators have created a list of “about 100 of the most valuable works that should be evacuated first in case of danger.”
“Cultural heritage cannot be reconstructed. Precautions must be taken,” said the director. Two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech that raised fears of invasion, the museum’s team began removing artefacts as early as February 23. Evacuation began under Russian artillery fire when Moscow launched its invasion the next day.
Russian forces stopped about 40 kilometers from Zaporizhia and did not capture Kortitsia. Three rockets hit the island but did not damage the museum. However, Russia soon took over “Kamianska Sych”. A branch of the museum is located there. “Staff have been blocked from accessing the site and lost contact with his colleagues some time ago,” Ostapenko said.
UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency, says 175 Ukrainian cultural sites have been damaged since the invasion began. The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine estimates that there are about 100 museums and her 17,000 cultural objects in the occupied territories. The city of Vasilivka, about 60 kilometers from Hortitsia, was occupied by Russian forces in the first days of the war.
The city is home to Popov House, a rare 19th-century neo-Gothic mansion that was damaged in an early March shelling. Part of the museum team decided to stay. Its director, her 39-year-old Anna Golovko, lives in Zaporizhia, but tries to keep in touch with her colleagues. “They’re doing everything they can to save the building, but it’s still very difficult. As soon as they cover the windows, another shelling blows them out,” she said. rice field.
The museum team did not have time to evacuate the work. Golovko said Russian troops went to the museum to loot it the day after the city fell. Golovko said two of her colleagues were detained for four days earlier this month and asked to reveal the location of the work.
As for Chergik, she is back in Zaporizhzhia after a long journey to bring artworks for storage in the western part of the country. She said the fate of Ukraine’s heritage, especially in the occupied territories, was a “painful and ever-present” issue for her. AFPMore