A Sunday panel by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) strongly condemned the actions of its Russian members during the Ukraine invasion.
The panel was hosted a day ahead of the 3-day General Conference Prague 2022. Titled “Heritage Protection Responses in Ukraine”, the primary agenda of the panel was to discuss various efforts to save heritage sites and cultural artifacts in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. However, a major point of discussion was also the violation of the code of ethics by Russian museum members in the war.
The most severe criticism came from the Ukraine chapter of the organization. Anastasiia Cherednychenko (Vice-President, ICOM Ukraine) alleged that Russian museum workers had aided and abetted the Russian forces in stealing artifacts from Ukraine. Not just that, but they also hosted exhibitions that featured anti-Ukraine propaganda works. She urged for the expulsion of Russia from the organization.
Other members were also outspoken in their criticism, with one labeling the actions similar to genocide on cultural grounds. Klaus Staubermann (CEO, Germany chapter) gave an emotional address along with calls to end the cultural destruction. One of the major decisions taken in the panel was to establish a new code of ethics for ICOM members, in view of the actions of the Russian members.
Since its founding in 1946, ICOM has never expelled a member country. Russia had decided to not join this year’s conference. Since the war began in February this year, more than 450 cultural landmarks have been reported to be destroyed or damaged.