Culture minister highlights risk of trade in stolen Ukrainian artefacts
Ukraine’s cultural heritage could be looted and traded on illegal markets as a result of the Russian invasion, Poland’s culture minister warned on Wednesday.
Speaking at the opening of a UNESCO workshop in Warsaw entitled 'Fighting the illicit trafficking of Ukrainian cultural property: sub-regional capacity-building training for law enforcement and the judiciary' Piotr Gliński, who is also a deputy prime minister, thanked the UN cultural body for addressing the issue.
"This important UNESCO initiative, in cooperation with its Polish partner, is a unique opportunity for experts to exchange practical experience concerning counteracting the illegal export of cultural goods related to the growing threat of antiquities being smuggled from Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion," Gliński said.
He added that Polish experts were active in the recovery of stolen art given that Poland had an estimated 500,000 items stolen by German and Soviet forces during Second World War.
"Based on our experience from World War II, Polish experts remain engaged in the protection and rescue of cultural heritage the world over," Gliński said, highlighting Ukraine in this regard.
"One of the threats faced in war-torn Ukraine is the illegal export, and more widely, the illegal trade in moveable monuments," he said.
The director of UNESCO's Culture and Emergencies Entity, Krista Pikkat, said that since the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, culture in all its forms had been destroyed, in response to which UNESCO had been fully mobilised to protect the country's rich cultural heritage in close cooperation with local and national authorities.
Pikkat said UNESCO had so far verified more than 230 cultural items in Ukraine that had received the status of damaged or destroyed due to the war.