Mariupol’s city council alleged on Thursday that Russian forces had seized thousands of artifacts and works of art from the besieged port city and said it was preparing to initiate criminal proceedings.
“The occupiers ‘liberated’ Mariupol from historical and cultural heritage. The racists confirmed the theft and removal to Donetsk of more than 2,000 unique exhibits from the museums of Mariupol,” the city council said in a statement over Telegram.
“These are original works by Arkhip Kuindzhi and Ivan Aivazovsky. Ancient icons and unique handwritten Tory scroll,” it added. “Made by the Venetian printing house for the Greeks of Mariupol Gospel of 1811 and more than 200 medals from the Museum of Medallion Art Harabet.”
More than two months into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is mounting a renewed offensive in eastern and southern parts of the country after failing to capture Kyiv in the opening weeks of the conflict.
Russian news agency Tass reported on Saturday that 25 Ukrainians, including six children younger than 14 years old, had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where a number of civilians and the remaining Ukrainian troops in the city have been sheltering.
Russian forces are close to seizing the entirety of the port city, with the plant remaining as a final pocket of resistance. Around the plant, there remains fighting, according to The New York Times.
Satellite images collected on Friday showed destruction caused by Russian forces at the Azovstal steel plant and other sites around the city, including the Mariupol theater where Ukrainian officials have said roughly 300 people were killed in a Russian bombing in March and residential neighborhoods.
Earlier this month, a top United Nations official referred to the city as “a center of hell” and the Ukrainian governor overseeing the city said it had been “wiped off the face of the earth.”
More than 2,000 exhibits taken from Mariupol museums by Russian forces: city council | WSN[Whatsapp Status New]