Simonas Kairys to UNESCO: “Russia, which is destroying Ukraine’s heritage, cannot chair the World Heritage Committee’s session”


2022 03 17


The Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys addressed the Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay, urging her to take swift actions regarding the suspension of participation by the Russian Federation in this organisation’s committees and programmes and regarding the necessity to evaluate the harm done to Ukraine’s heritage.

“Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko, with whom I maintain constant contact, reports huge losses to Ukraine’s cultural heritage. At least 20 places of worship have already been destroyed in the country, including unique historical buildings such as the Saint Elias Church in Chernihiv (11th-12th century). Horrible consequences of war have also been faced by Ukraine’s museums, libraries, theatres and other cultural and art institutions. We must understand the immense damage this war has done to the attacked country’s cultural heritage and not turn a blind eye to the barbaric actions of the aggressor”, the Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys said.

In a letter sent to the UNESCO management this week, the Minister Simonas Kairys urges them to change the planned location of the World Heritage Committee’s session, which is scheduled to be held this summer, to not hold it in Kazan (Russia), and to suspend the Russian Federation from chairing. Simonas Kairys has also urged to suspend the Russian Federation’s membership in UNESCO’s committees and programmes of culture, education and information policies.

“At the moment, Ukraine is in vital need of all types of help from us. It is necessary to evaluate the harm done to Ukraine’s cultural heritage, accumulate all possible measures of financial and technical international support, and to ensure the safety of journalists in Ukraine. However, this is not enough: we must also adopt decisions regarding the aggressor as well. The actions by Putin’s regime in the attacked country are a total antithesis to the values and goals of UNESCO”, Simonas Kairys claimed.

Photo by EPA-ELTA