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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 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 (24 regions, Autonomous Republic of Crimea and two cities, Kyiv and Sevastopol). 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.

In 2011, owing to the restructuring of the central agencies, the principal commitments on heritage protection were entrusted to the Ministry of Culture, in contrast to the previous year when these commitments were divided between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Regional Development, Building and Housing.

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. During 2013 there were several international meetings and conferences dedicated to the restitution of cultural goods, in particular, the International scientific and practical conference "The restitution of national cultural achievements: Ukrainian and European cooperation" (Kyiv, May 2013), and the solemn ceremony of assignation by Ukraine to Germany of 713 books from the Museum of Sugar in Berlin (Parliament Library of Ukraine, Kyiv, June 2013).

The Ministry of Culture and the Parliament Committee of Culture are making significant efforts to prevent the destruction of cultural and historical monuments and are fighting, in particular, against so called "black archaeologists".

In Ukraine there are 143 424 memorials under state registration. Of these, 57 206 are archaeological memorials (including 418 units of national significance), 51 364 are historic memorials (including 142 units of national significance), 5 926 are memorials of monumental art (including 44 units of national significance), 16 797 are memorials of architecture, city construction, gardens and parks, art and landscapes (including 3 541 units of national significance). There are 63 active historic and cultural reservation areas.

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.

In 2011, the most complete systematic information on more than 700 museums from 24 regions in Ukraine, including the cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol, was presented on the web portal "Ridna krayina" ("Native country") of the Charitable Foundation of the same name, established and directed by the vice-speaker of the Parliament, Mykola Tomenko (

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.

At the same time, according to the data of the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine, the insufficient financing is causing serious problems in the culture heritage sphere. For example, due to poor security, 432 old relics and monuments from the state part of the Museum Fund of Ukraine were stolen in 2005-2009, from 26 museums in 17 regions. Another problem is the poor organisation of accounting of museum values which in many cases impedes the ability to define the real cost of the lost objects. Experts also indicate the inappropriate level of museum funds for restoration. The Ukraine National Scientific and Research Restoration Centre, in existence for 70 years, don't have its own premises and uses out-of-date equipment. Under such conditions, they can use only 0.1% of museum funds. At the same time, more than 70% of objects under state ownership at the Museum Fund of Ukraine need urgent restoration.  

According to experts, more than 50 art memorials have disappeared from the Kyiv city map in recent years. Often situated down town, they are easy picking for developers and construction companies. Instead of contracts for preserving history, sky-scrapers tower over the loss of centuries of knowledge. Experts say the authorities can't afford to save the country's history due to a severe lack of funds. The total reconstruction would cost hundreds of millions of USD. In the draft budget for 2012, the local government hasn't allocated any funding.

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.

Chapter published: 29-04-2014

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              Council of Europe/ERICarts, "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 15th edition", 2014 | ISSN 2222-7334