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Russia Demolishes Historical House Where Ukrainian Poet Lived In Exile

  • Anna Shamanska

Shevchenko is one of the founders of modern Ukrainian literature.

Shevchenko is one of the founders of modern Ukrainian literature.

Russia paved over a historical monument, and put up a parking lot.

Ukrainian authorities have recently discovered that the 1849 residence in exile of iconic Ukrainian poet and painter Taras Shevchenko was demolished in the summer of 2015. A private Russian bank built a parking lot for its clients to replace the small house in Orenburg on Shevchenko lane.

Shevchenko lived in the southern Russian city after Emperor Nicholas I ordered him into forced military service for participating in a secret political organization and refusing to renounce his views. Russia still considers the hut where he lived in 1849 a historical monument and it is listed in the Russian registry of objects of cultural heritage.

In an official statement published by the Ukrainian Culture Ministry on February 25, Ukraine promised to file a complaint with UNESCO and the European Council.

"The fact that the Russian government didn't take any actions to prevent the destruction of the monument and the fact that this crime hasn't been investigated for a long time is more proof of the repressive Russian policy for everything concerning the history and culture of Ukrainian people in Russia," the statement reads.

Local media report that authorities launched a criminal investigation into the case after a local citizen's appeal.

But Russia's TASS news agency quotes an anonymous source from Orenburg Oblast's Culture Ministry who says the house should have never been on the list of historical sites.

"The experts concluded that the object of cultural heritage doesn't have the historical and cultural characteristics, on the basis of which it was taken...under state protection as a monument of republican importance. The poet never lived in this house," the source in the ministry said.

He added that since 2011 local authorities had tried to get the house removed from the historical heritage registry, but were unsuccessful.

Shevchenko, who is one of the founders of modern Ukrainian literature, spent about three years in forced exile in Orenburg Oblast from 1847-1850. The city of Orsk still houses a museum dedicated to the poet, displaying reproductions of paintings he created there.

In 2016, Orenburg will host its 40th Shevchenko March festival, dedicated to the poet's birthday.

About This Blog

Using regional media and the reporting of Current Time TV's wide network of correspondents, Anna Shamanska will tell stories about people and society you are unlikely to read anywhere else.

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