"According to our statistics, 1,373 cultural institutions have been damaged or destroyed: libraries, museums, theaters, philharmonics, art schools. More than 550 cultural monuments, as well as more than 200 religious buildings, have been damaged or destroyed," Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Halyna Hryhorenko told the leading Austrian newspaper Die Presse in an interview.
According to her, an important part of Ukraine's work is "to document damages in accordance with international standards." In addition, buildings are being conserved to prevent destruction, with the calculation of their further restoration after the Victory.
"According to the approximate calculations of the World Bank, cultural reconstruction will cost 100 billion dollars," Hryhorenko said about the estimated needs for the restoration of cultural objects.
The official also noted that the Russians loot Ukrainian museums and libraries in the occupied territories. For example, they stole up to 70% of exhibits from Kherson museums.
"Thefts of works of art are systematic in nature. This happened both in Mariupol and in Melitopol. We know about it from open sources. It has not been officially confirmed. It will be difficult to hold the Russians to account for this. They keep the exhibits in Crimea. Libraries and museums were also looted in Kharkiv, Izium, and Balaklia," the official added.
She emphasized that "the Russians want to erase the Ukrainian language, our culture, our national memory and replace it with Russian." Hryhorenko gave an example of the targeted shelling of the museum of the Ukrainian philosopher Hryhoriy Skovoroda in a small village in Kharkiv region in May 2022. There were no military objects near the museum.
Hryhorenko also noted that Ukrainian art now tries to come out of the shadow of the Russian Empire while positioning itself in the world. "We are still too often looked at through Moscow glasses, as part of the Russian or Soviet empire. This also affects the history of art. Many artists who were born, grew up, and studied in Ukraine in the past were mistakenly called Russians: Kazimir Malevich or Ilya Repin. Now we are becoming active in many world-class museums – in New York or London. Ukrainian art is coming out of the shadow of the empire," she said.
The deputy minister stressed that Ukraine wants "to have its own voice, its own stage, and we want to tell the story of our art ourselves."