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UNESCO adds 20 Ukrainian cultural heritage sites to enhanced protection list

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 7, 2023 9:25 PM 1 min read
An exterior view of the first Soviet 13-story skyscraper, the architectural monument in the constructivist style on July 11, 2023 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Valentyna Polishchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved a request from Ukraine to add 20 landmarks to the international list of cultural heritage sites under enhanced protection, Deputy Culture Minister Anastasiia Bondar said on Sept. 7.

The list includes the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, an important monastery famous for its complex cave systems, Lviv's historic center, Taras Shevchenko's grave, and the Derzhprom building in Kharkiv, which was the first skyscraper built in the Soviet Union.  

The list also includes numerous wooden churches in the Carpathians, according to the Culture Ministry.

In 1999, UNESCO established a mechanism to grant cultural heritage sites enhanced protection as a way to deter attacks during conflicts.

Individuals who do not respect the enhanced protection granted to such sites can face criminal sanctions, according to UNESCO.

Ukrainian cultural heritage has been under attack by Russia since the first day of the full-scale invasion.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture has documented over 1,600 cultural facilities damaged or destroyed by Russian forces, but the actual number may be even higher.

After Russian strikes against Odesa's historical center, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site earlier this year, the organization highlighted that the intentional destruction of cultural sites may amount to a war crime.

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