Ukraine liberated Kherson city. Now, Russia is destroying it, having already looted its cultural treasures

By | January 15, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

Four charred baby cribs were all that was left in the maternity ward’s bomb shelter.

The rest of the room was destroyed Wednesday when Russian forces attacked the city, striking one of the only hospitals in Kherson where babies can still be delivered.

By fate or luck, many staff, accustomed to near-constant shelling, chose to hide in a nearby corridor rather than run to the place actually meant to keep them safe — a decision that probably saved them.

“Look at our safety now,” Oksana Tomchenko, 58, a gynecologist who is the hospital’s interim head doctor, said as she gestured to the scorched basement.

Residents who survived nine months of Russian occupation say that now that their city is back under Ukrainian control, they face a painful reality: If Russia can no longer have the city, it seems hellbent on destroying it.

The strike on Tomchenko’s hospital marked at least the fifth time Russian forces have hit a medical facility in Kherson city since early December. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports:

One morning in late October, Russian forces blocked off a street in downtown Kherson and surrounded a graceful old building with dozens of soldiers.

Five large trucks pulled up. So did a line of military vehicles, ferrying Russian agents who filed in through several doors. It was a carefully planned, highly organized, military-style assault — on an art museum.

Over the next four days, the Kherson Regional Art Museum was cleaned out, witnesses said, with Russian forces “bustling about like insects,” porters wheeling out thousands of paintings, soldiers hastily wrapping them in sheets, art experts barking out orders and packing material flying everywhere.

“They were loading such masterpieces, which there are no more in the world, as if they were garbage,” said the museum’s longtime director, Alina Dotsenko, who recently returned from exile, recounting what employees and witnesses had told her.

When she came back to the museum in early November and grasped how much had been stolen, she said, “I almost lost my mind.”

Kherson. Mariupol. Melitopol. Kakhovsky. Museums of art, history and antiquities.

As Russia has ravaged Ukraine with deadly missile strikes and brutal atrocities on civilians, it has also looted the nation’s cultural institutions of some of the most important and intensely protected contributions of Ukraine and its forebears going back thousands of years. [Continue reading…]

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