UNESCO did not realize that the monument to Catherine II, the founder of Odessa, was demolished by the Ukrainian authorities. Photo: RIA Novosti
Tatyana Evgenievna, how did it happen that the Odessa center was on the list, despite the obviously biased and weak application of the Kyiv authorities?
Tatyana Dovgalenko: Our delegation relied on the assessments developed by our experts on the basis of the 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which describes in detail all relevant procedures, including accelerated ones. However, applications for them are considered only for the next year. Thus, at the last technical session of the UNESCO Historical Heritage Committee, it was only planned to decide the date of the next meeting. True, there was also an item “miscellaneous”, where, as a rule, the most important problems do not appear. However, a group of European countries and Japan offered to expeditiously consider a request made somehow about Odessa. As our experts said, parts of the dossier were copied from open sources, guidebooks, the Wikipedia website, and were full of quotes from bloggers. There were no cultural passports for monuments, no archival documents, and no scientific publications on the subject. In addition, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which is an advisory body to UNESCO, also had many complaints about Ukraine’s application.
In short, it was not clear what was presented in the session. In such a situation, the raw dossier is usually sent for review, and then the decision on existing practice is made by consensus, requiring a two-thirds vote. But in this case we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation where 14 members of the Commission abstained, six voted in favor and we voted against.
As it became known, contrary to the established criteria for considering applications, Kyiv concealed from the Committee information about the barbaric demolition of various monuments, including the founder of Odessa, Russian Empress Catherine II.
Tatyana Dovgalenko: Further, let’s deceive. Photos were attached in which the monuments are surrounded by a wooden fence, supposedly “for protection” from Russian raids. And they actually took them and demolished them. And they hid this fact. However, despite our explanations, there was no condemnation from the Committee, not even comments. It is clear that under other conditions the reaction would be
After all, neither the initiators of the decision nor Kyiv have little interest in the safety of Odessa. Their task is only to accuse Moscow of allegedly aiming to “destroy Ukrainian cultural identity.” Moreover, not a single Ukrainian object, previously included in the UNESCO heritage list, to which I have repeatedly paid attention, has not undergone military operations within the framework of the NWO.
Not surprisingly, the Russian Foreign Ministry calls Odessa’s inclusion on this list a politically motivated decision.
Tatyana Dovgalenko: In fact, the background of this management is anti-Russian. Starting with the fact that the UNESCO Secretariat helped and mobilized funds to help Ukraine. After all, the original file was compiled by Greek and Italian experts. Fixed a few things, but not completely. Westerners pressed him hard. I note that we believe that the historical center of Odessa, in principle, has every reason to be on the UNESCO list, and there are reasons for threats. But they come from the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, which not only demolished various monuments, but also destroy the history of the city and the country as a whole at the legislative level.