APAA appeal on archaeological work in Ukraine’s Russia-occupied/annexed Crimea

[I am still on jury duty. I wrote this on the weekend.]

Last year, I considered (and summarised) the possibilities for excavation in Crimea under annexation. On the 6th of August 2015, the All-Ukrainian Public Association of Archaeologists (APAA) issued an appeal to archaeologists of the Russian Federation. It has been published in Ukrainian, Russian and English and it is being discussed on Facebook. (I have corrected typos and clarified the translation of a few words or phrases.)

I believe it is a very reasonable appeal. As well as explaining the situation legally and ethically, which many archaeologists (outside) may not understand, it reaffirms cooperation with responsible archaeologists in Russia, which is essential for effective resistance, and it shows empathy with those who live under occupation, who may not have the freedom to resist openly.

The Bell of Chersonesos overlooking the Black Sea (c) Dmitry A. Mottl, Wikipedia, 1st January 2009

The Bell of Chersonesos overlooking the Black Sea
(c) Dmitry A. Mottl, Wikipedia, 1st January 2009

The board meeting of the All-Ukrainian Association of Archaeologists [launched] the Appeal to archeologists of the Russian Federation on 06/08/2015. This Appeal urges Russian archeologists and archeologist-inhabitants of АR [the Autonomous Republic of] Crimea and Sevastopol, the majority of whom live under the administrative and financial [control] of [an]other state [against] their wishes, to be vigilant and to operate within the limits of a legal field defined by the current international and Ukrainian laws.

To some extent, [the announcement] of the Appeal was [driven] by recent events concerning the “Chersonese Taurian” [Reserve, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it is an ‘outstanding example of democratic land organization’ and ‘outstanding physical testimony’ to cultural exchange throughout Greek, Roman and medieval periods], once again showing that Russian authorities are more concerned [about] the fictional sacralization of this outstanding site, than its protection and scientific [study]. [I have discussed recent events here.] Though the situation concerning [the] appointment of the new director of the [Preserve has apparently been resolved], Crimean archeologists should be ready [for] new attempts [at] military-clerical attacks on scientific and civilizational values, while cultural heritage could become the first victim.

The Appeal of the All-Ukrainian Association of Archaeologists to archaeologists of the Russian Federation

The АR [Autonomous Repubic of] Crimea [and Sevastopol] was occupied by the Russian Federation more than a year ago. The Parliamentary Assembly of [the] OSCE recently acted [by requiring] the Russian Federation to annul the illegal occupation of Crimea and [by] urg[ing] the states-participants to abstain from any actions or contacts that [could] be interpreted as the recognition of [the] illegal annexation of the АR Crimea and city of Sevastopol. The Verkhovna Rada [parliament] of Ukraine has passed the Law № 1207-VII “On Securing the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Legal Regime [in] the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine” on 15/04/2014, which legally defined its attitude [in] relation to this event and the rights and duties of citizens [which I have discussed here, as I have discussed Ukraine’s law on the transfer of cultural property there].

It is generally known that archeological excavations in Crimea were annually conducted by Ukrainian and international archaeological expeditions until 2014. Because of the known reasons [the annexation of Crimea], only Russian archaeological expeditions [are] work[ing] at Crimean sites at present. We urge our colleagues to pay [attention to] the [unacceptability] of archaeological [looting] and liability [for violations of international law and Ukrainian law].

International laws – particularly the [1992 Valetta] European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised); the [1954 Hague] Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict [which I have examined in Cyprus]; [and] the [1970 UNESCO] Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (ratified both Ukraine, and the Russian Federation) – directly forbid any archeological excavations [in] occupied territories for the state-invader, except [in] unusual cases, when sites are threatened with destruction. Also export of cultural property, including archeological objects from occupied territory, is strictly forbidden.

The [1999] Second Protocol to the [1954] Hague Convention underlines [the] responsibility of the [invader] for cultural heritage protection. The same rule is defined by Part 7, item 5 of the Law of Ukraine “On Securing the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Legal Regime [in] the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine”. [Part 2], item 10 of this Law, and the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from June 4th 2014, regulate the [procedure for entry] to Crimea.

The All-Ukrainian Association of Archaeologists urges our colleagues to avoid any actions that [might] negatively affect their international scientific reputation. [Bearing in mind] all [of the] main principles of “the Code of Activity of the European Association of Archeologists” from 9/27/1997, “the code of ethics of the professional archeologist”, accepted 11/9/2006 at the Institute of Archeology of Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, we will [make every] effort [to preserve] traditional, friendly professional relations with those Russian colleagues who do not reduce our fruitful cooperation to zero and aspire to develop it in the future, in particular in Ukrainian Crimea.

The All-Ukrainian Association of Archaeologists also urges international archaeological institutions and organizations to monitor the situation [for] cultural heritage protection in Crimea as well as [for] archeological excavations in this region.

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