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Ukraine/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

Basic principles of the preservation of cultural heritage are reflected in the country's main law, The Constitution of Ukraine, which was adopted at the fifth session of the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada) on the 28 June 1996. It proclaims that "Cultural heritage shall be protected by law" (part 4, Article 54); "The State shall ensure the preservation of historical monuments and other objects of cultural value..." (part 5, Article 54); "Everyone shall be obliged not to harm nature or cultural heritage, and to compensate for any damage he / she inflicts (Article 66)".

The main law in this area is the Law of Ukraine on Preservation of Cultural Heritage (2005, with amendments 2011, 2012) which regulated legislative, organisational, social and economic relations in the protection of cultural heritage, with an objective to protect it and to use objects of cultural heritage in social life.

The Ministry of Culture in co-operation with other ministries and public agencies started to create a list of monuments and historical sites and objects not subject to privatisation and to develop a general scheme to map the territory of Ukraine. In 2009, on the basis of a Governmental Decision on Bringing Objects of Cultural Heritage of National Significance to the State Register of Immovable Monuments of Ukraine, there were 744 registered monuments of national significance, among them: 264 – historical monuments, 428 – archaeological monuments, 47 – objects of monumental arts, 4 – monuments of science and technology, and 1- landscape monument.

The State register of immovable monuments of Ukraine is now accessible on the website of the Ministry of Culture. Concerning monuments of local significance, the Register is divided for ease of access into 27 files by territorial and administrative principle. Files are presented as tables with lists of objects and their addresses. Monuments of national significant can be found in the section on "Normative and legislative acts". The Register contains data up to March 2012. It is updated and enlarged after consideration by the Expert Council of the Ministry of Culture.

During 2006-2009, a set of laws regulating heritage issues were adopted, including ratification of the UNESCO Convention on Underwater Heritage and the EU Convention on Architectural Heritage.

In March 2012, Ukraine submitted for UNESCO consideration nominations to be included on the list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity - Petrykivka painting, Ukrainian decorative art of XIX-XXI centuries. The UNESCO committee put the Petrykivka decorative painting on the intangible cultural heritage list at a session in Baku on 10 December 2013 (see also chapter 3.4.3).

Great attention is being paid to the restitution of cultural goods taken out of Ukraine in former times. The Register of cultural goods returned to Ukraine numbers now 300 units; the Register of cultural goods that are wanted by Ukraine has information about 700 units, and the Register of cultural goods wanted by other states has information about 23 units.

In Ukraine there are 143 424 memorials under state registration. Of these, 69 866 are archaeological memorials (including 418 units of national significance), 53 456 are historic memorials (including 142 units of national significance), 2 941 are memorials of monumental art (including 44 units of national significance), 16 874 are memorials of architecture, city construction, gardens and parks, art and landscapes (including 3 541 units of national significance).

A part of the reservation areas is constituted by complexes (ensembles) of memorials that are of particular cultural value. 15 reservation areas are granted the status of national reservations. Almost 1 500 towns and settlements and more than 8 000 villages in Ukraine possess objects of cultural heritage of which 140 000 are registered, but over 70 000 need research and registration. In some regions, about 50-70% of historical monuments are in an unsatisfactory state and about 10% are under threat of collapse.

401 settlements are entered into the List of Historic Settlements in Ukraine. The state is responsible for the preservation of the heritage mentioned, as represented by the State Service on Issues of National Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture. These historic settlements have been included into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

During the last year, a lot of monuments related to the former communist regime were destroyed in different cities of Ukraine. As the new Minister of Culture stated, "There is no monument from the past regime in the national register of monuments. Monuments to Lenin and other communist leaders have no protection importance. However, it's not worthwhile to destroy them where it would provoke the tension".

The museum area of Ukraine constitutes 546 national and communal museums, 497 museums, museum cabinets and collections included in higher schools, more than 4 000 museums, museum classes and rooms in secondary schools, and about 800 museums under the competence of enterprises, establishments and organisations.

The Ministry of Culture established a working group on creation of the Museum of Maidan where all artefacts related to the Revolution of Dignity will be collected and presented. This museum will be the result of collective efforts of the National Art Museum, National Historic Museum, Honchar Museum of Ukrainian Traditional Culture, Artistic Arsenal, Institute of National Memory and independent experts. 

In February 2012, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine approved the Law of Ukraine on Landscapes. The law regulates the planning of landscapes to preserve and use them for satisfying ecological, cultural, health-improving, economic and other social needs. The law envisages that citizens and their associations have a right to monitor the use of landscapes, initiate public expertise and submit results to respective bodies.

In September 2013, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile of the Ukraine

Chapter published: 03-07-2015

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