02/08/2022

artefact-hunting in drug plantations and by cannabis-cultivators in Ukraine (around 2014)

In the course of researching artefact-hunting in Eastern Europe, I found a discussion of the activity among drug-producers in Ukraine, as both a problem for some and a practice of others. This material, based on an 88-message conversation between early 2014 and early 2015, has been cut from the current draft of the text.
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01/08/2022

attitudes to personal and public health precautions among artefact-hunters amid the Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic offers a novel lens through which to analyse the attitudes of artefact-hunters towards personal and public health precautions in particular and science, society and the state in general.
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19/07/2022

human rights worker and anti-imperialist fighter Maksym Butkevych has been captured by Russia’s invading forces

Maksym Butkevych, a pacifist Christian anarchist, human rights worker and journalist, who volunteered to join the Ukrainian Armed Forces to combat Russia’s war of aggression and genocide, has been captured by Russia’s invading forces and is being defamed with grotesque propaganda.
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18/04/2022

Russia’s destruction of Ukraine’s cultural property is proof of its intent to commit genocide.

Russia’s state media-spread, government official-reinforced programme/manual/handbook of “de-Nazification [денацификация]”, “de-Ukrainisation/de-Ukrainianisation [деукраинизацией]” and “de-Europeanisation [деевропеизация]” in Ukraine is a programme of genocide. And ‘genocide’ of Ukrainians has been the explicit, publicly-expressed desire of Russian ultranationalist ‘Kremlin ideologist Alexander Dugin’, since 2014 (at the latest).
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17/04/2022

Russia is subjecting cultural heritage workers and other civilians to the war crime of forced military labour.

Russia has been subjecting civilians in the occupied territories of Ukraine (legally-protected persons) to the war crime of forced military labour (also described as forced military service, forced mobilisation and compulsory enlistment) since 2015.
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02/04/2022

There is a market in Belarus for cultural property that has been stolen from Ukraine, pillaged by Russia’s soldiers and mercenaries.

According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (Головне управління розвідки Міністерства оборони України), the invading and occupying ‘Russian military has opened a bazaar for the sale of loot [Російські військові відкрили базар для торгівлі награбованим]’. The proceeds of this war crime include cultural property.

There is no evidence (yet) that this particular market is handling property that is legally protected specifically for its cultural value (on top of its value simply as public or private property), but this already shows the scale and organisation of the pillaging and that the targets of the pillaging include objects of a cultural nature.
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19/02/2022

open-source evidence of damage to and destruction of cultural heritage, natural heritage and other civilian objects through Russia’s war in and occupation of Ukraine

These are a few pieces of open-source evidence, primarily summaries of findings of investigations by the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Truth Hounds, which are part of a study that I’m doing with an archaeologist in Ukraine.
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05/01/2022

In 2018, “a chartered Tupolev-154 jetliner” reportedly flew from Kazakhstan to Switzerland, “loaded up” with “antiques, jewelry, works of art and other cargo”.

As we see monuments to dictators get toppled in demonstrations in Kazakhstan, as they were adapted in the Slipper Uprising in Belarus and toppled or adapted in the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, we can see the causes of this civil resistance in a raft of issues around political unfreedom and socio-economic insecurity, including the theft of wealth by the elite that mires citizens in poverty, which involves the stashing and display of that dirty money in the form of cultural property.
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03/09/2021

Norway’s economic crime unit, Ministry of Culture, Cultural History Museum, National Library and University of Oslo are assisting Iraq in the pursuit of looted and illegally-exported antiquities

Norway’s economic crime unit (Økokrim), its Ministry of Culture (Kulturdepartementet) and supporting experts at the Cultural History Museum (Kulturhistorisk museum), the National Library (Nasjonalbiblioteket) and the University of Oslo (Universitetet i Oslo) are assisting Iraq in the pursuit of looted and illegally-exported antiquities.
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17/08/2021

organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence

I’m delighted to say that my open-source research into organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence has been published in the open-access Antichistica of Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Following on from a proof-of-concept study of using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade, an archaeological and historical study of destruction, theft and rescue of archaeological artefacts in Cyprus and a netnography of online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, this piece explores the history of Turkey-rooted organised crime, including the existence of politically-“protected criminals [Korunan suçlular]” who have served state interests.

It examines the development of the Turkish antiquities mafia over six decades, the functioning of a Turkish-Cypriot antiquities gang from the civil war through the foreign invasions into the occupation and the activities of a Turkish multi-commodity gang in and around the state.

It also traces connections between Mexican narcotraffickers who also handle cultural goods, Turkish ultranationalists who self-finance with narcotic substances and cultural goods and Turkish state-backed Syrian Turkmen jihadists, plus the operations of a Syrian Turkmen jihadist who served as a Turkish intelligence agent and who trafficked antiquities as well as arms.

Amongst these and other things, such as interactions of organised crime with political violence and the rule of law, it draws out evidence of women’s participation in cultural property crime.
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