The Ukraine Is Reclaiming Art From Deposed President’s Government Buildings

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko speaks late during an official reception at Mareensky palace in Kiyv in 2007. Photo by MyshkoMarkiv/Ukraine presidency/AFP via Getty Images.

Ukrainian museum officials have long complained of the government’s tendency to borrow artworks from the country’s cultural institutions. Now that president Viktor Yanukovych has been deposed, the Art Newspaper reports that the Ukraine’s state museums have recovered some works of art that had been hanging in government buildings.

Ten paintings taken from Kiev’s Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Arts in 2013 were removed from the official presidential residence in Kiev. A cache of 13 paintings by Ukrainian artists such as Oleksii Shovkunenko and Sergei Shishko has been returned to the Kiev History Museum from the State Management of Affairs, where they had hung since 2012.

As Yanukovych fled his Mezhyhirya Estate last month, security footage caught him directing staff to pack up paintings and sculpture. Anything left behind is currently being evaluated by the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Following Yanukovych’s hasty departure, thousands of citizens overtook the estate grounds, photographing Yanukovych’s opulent treasures for the world to see (as seen in this piece from the Washington Post).

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s interim culture minister, Yevhen Nishchuk, has appealed to UNESCO to protect Crimean heritage sites now that the region’s secession has left it effectively under Russian control.

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