Ukraine finds antiquities looted from Crimean museums

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While investigating money laundering related to the financing of occupied Russian territories, Ukrainian authorities said they had discovered a treasure trove of ancient Scythian weapons believed to have been looted from museums in occupied Crimea, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in a statement. statement friday.

The looting of Ukrainian cultural heritage by Russian forces has been a particular fear since the start of the war in January. (Photo: General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine)“The investigation has identified a group of people involved in illegal activities related to the financing of the [Donetsk People’s Republic]the withdrawal of funds from Ukraine to the Russian Federation, as well as doing business in occupied Crimea,” the statement said.

“As part of the criminal investigation, law enforcement officers searched one of the members of the group, during which documents were found concerning the movement of funds in businesses – cafes, nightclubs and others establishments located in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and which he directly manages,” he explained.

A massive amount of historical artifacts, valued in the millions, were also found in the Kyiv office.

It included Scythian Akinaki swords, knives, helmets from the Hellenistic era and dishes from the Trypillia culture were discovered, according to the statement.

“In addition, during the search, an ancient book ‘Sarcophagi of Gaul’ was seized, which was an exhibit of the Russian Archaeological Museum in Constantinople, and then part of the library of the Chersonese Museum in the temporarily occupied Crimea,” the statement said. . said.

Authorities also seized a collection of more than 2,500 coins from the southern Black Sea coast, now occupied by Russia, dating from the time of the Scythian kingdoms and the Bosphorus.

In total, more than 2,000 looted artifacts ranging from the Bronze Age to the Late Middle Ages were discovered and transferred to the National History Museum of Ukraine for safekeeping.

The illegal antiques trade is a multi-billion dollar global industry according to a 2018 report by Standard Chartered Bank. Looting of cultural property in active war zones is considered a war crime the 1954 Hague Convention.

Looting of Ukraine’s cultural heritage by Russian forces has been a particular fear since the war began in February, as museum curators scramble to safeguard their collections.

Russian soldiers had previously been caught looting in Syria, as well as in eastern Ukraine and Crimea since 2014.

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