Ukraine launches online museum of Russian aggression

“Little green men” - masked Russian soldiers without insignia amid the unfolding occupation of the Crimean peninsula. 9 March 2014. Screenshot: Youtube/Babylon’13 

International, Russian Aggression, War in the Donbas

Ukraine has launched the Virtual Museum of Russian Aggression, a joint project of various state agencies and NGOs. The online platform exhibits a collection of facts of Russia’s violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, presenting information on environmental, war, and other Russia’s crimes in the occupied territories, and revealing the data on the abductions and other human rights violations which have been going on since the beginning of the Russian occupation back in 2014.

For now, the project deals with the developments on the Crimean peninsula, leaving out the occupied areas in Ukraine’s easternmost Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Cases related to these are in further plans for the Museum’s development according to the minister of culture.

According to the online museum’s website, the project’s goal is

“to accumulate the work of state authorities, public initiatives, and international organizations on documenting the course and effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in order to present it all in a modern and accessible form to a wide international audience interested in Ukraine.”

The head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance (UINP), Anton Drobovych, noted at the presentation of the website on 19 October in Kyiv that the project is maintained by state agencies, as well as many NGOs that have been collecting data on acts of law and human rights violations in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea.

Among the official agencies that took part in creating the platform were the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and various Crimea-related Ukrainian bodies. Non-official actors who contributed in the development of the website were the International Renaissance Foundation and the Prometheus Security Environment Research Center.

A number of NGOs became partners of the projects, including human rights organizations with Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union among them, the International Volunteer Community “Informnapalm” that deals with collecting evidence of the Russian aggression from its outset, the Institute of Black Sea Strategic Studies, and many more.

Currently, the Virtual Museum of Russian Aggression is the online collection of facts, photo and video evidence, independent media publications, oral testimonies, personal and court cases, related to the Russian occupation of Crimea which commenced back in 2014 and has been ongoing to this day.

A screenshot of a page on the Virtual Museum of Russian Aggression website.

For now, the Museum lacks data on the Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine, which started a month after Russia had annexed Crimea in March 2014. However, Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy, promised the extension of the collection in this direction, saying in his Telegram post,

“The exposition on the crimes in Crimea is just the beginning. Next in the plans are cases on the occupation of the Donbas,” assured the official.

The Minister believes that at present, the website would simplify the work on collecting facts for the evidence base on the annexation of Crimea.

UINP head Drobovych believes that the project might be of good use for many years to come,

“It is important for us that in 50 years, in 100 years, when people would want to investigate the Russian-Ukrainian war, the temporary annexation, occupation, that there be materials collected from eyewitnesses, based on documents of international organizations, NGOs. Verified, checked, and that this set of materials would be giving a real idea of what was happening,” he said at the project presentation, according to Ukrinform.

Presentation of the online Virtual Museum of Russian Aggression. Kyiv, 19 October 2021. Photo: uinp.gov.ua

Culture Minister Tkachenko believes that the data published on the Museum’s website is going to be useful to foreign journalists “as a reliable source to cover this matter. For that, there is an English version available.”

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