Public antiquities in the president’s residence?

Since Viktor Yanukovych’s retreat from Kiev, many Ukrainians have visited the president’s country residence, and seen the wealth and wastefulness for which he was legendary – fleets of classic cars and boats; a wooden galleon; a private zoo; a folly of Classical ruins; grotesquely, golden eagles that had been crucified, seemingly by extremists as effigies of the synonymous Berkut special police… And they’ve found a couple of questionable and/or questionably-acquired antiquities.

Archaeologist Yakiv Gershkovych says that the ‘virus’ of antiquities collecting has infected ‘the highest layers of Ukra[i]nian politics’. Former president Viktor Yushchenko was a ‘well-known… collector’ of antiquities from the Trypillya Culture, and it’s commonly believed that ‘the majority’ of his collection came from ‘illegal excavations‘. So while Yanukovych’s objects may be legal, they may not.

Journalist Michael Shchur shared a photograph from “self-defence” activists; it was one of the ‘ancient Slavic books [старинные славянские книги]’.

Ultranationalist Svoboda (Freedom Party) MP and press secretary Oleksandr Aronets (@aronets)) posted photographs of a ‘carved mammoth tusk [Ріг мамонта, вирізьблений]’. Andrey Sysoyenko thought it might have been ‘taken’ – quasi-legally borrowed, bluntly appropriated? – ‘from the Museum of Oriental Art [музея восточного искусства увёл]'(1). However, it may have been imported (legally or illegally).

A carved mammoth tusk in Viktor Yanukovych's residence (c) Aronets, 22nd February 2014)

A carved mammoth tusk in Viktor Yanukovych’s residence
(c) Aronets, 22nd February 2014

A close-up of the detail in the mammoth tusk's carving (c) Aronets, 22nd February 2014

A close-up of the detail in the mammoth tusk’s carving
(c) Aronets, 22nd February 2014

Notes

1: the Museum of Western and Oriental Art (Музей Мистецтв ім. Богдана та Варвари Ханенків).

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