May 17, 2024, 05:57

A construction illegally built in the buffer zone of the UNESCO site was demolished in Kyiv

A construction illegally built in the buffer zone of the UNESCO site was demolished in Kyiv

On 17 May, a building was dismantled in Kyiv that had been erected by the UOC-MP religious community in violation of the law on the territory of the National Museum of History of Ukraine in the buffer zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Kyiv: St Sophia Cathedral and Adjacent Monastery Buildings, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra’. According to documents, the structure consisted of three 20-square-meter kiosks, earning it the nickname ‘church-MAF’. 

The National Museum of History is dedicated to maximizing access for Ukrainians to our shared place of memory. To achieve this, all obstacles must be removed, especially when there are legitimate reasons to do so. The museum plans to use the territory, particularly the vacated site, for educational events and children’s programs dedicated to both the ancient past and modern history of Ukraine. Additionally, future archaeological research is planned for sites that have not yet been studied or have not become exhibition objects,’ stated Fedir Androshchuk, director of the National Museum of History of Ukraine.

The unauthorized construction was carried out in violation of the law, without an archaeological examination, and without permits from the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy. Moreover, the building was not put into operation in accordance with the established procedure. 

‘Today we are solving the issue caused by the barbaric actions of the Moscow Patriarchate and the openly pro-Russian policy of the Yanukovych government. Ukrainian heritage should belong exclusively to Ukrainians,’ said Nataliia Panchenko, director of the Treasury of the National Museum of History of Ukraine.

According to the decision of the Kyiv City Commercial Court of 15 February 2023, the religious community of the UOC-MP was obliged to dismantle the illegal construction but failed to follow the court order. The offender was repeatedly imposed a fine for non-compliance, which was never paid. 

Dismantling work requires proper equipment and licensing. These are high-risk jobs and require an organization with the appropriate licensing.

The museum, lacking its own funds, initiated a fundraising campaign to gather UAH 772,000 for the demolition of the ‘church-MAF’. Remarkably, within a span of just 16 hours, they successfully raised 870 thousand hryvnias from 2,266 generous contributors. The largest individual donations amounted to 30 thousand hryvnias each, while the smallest was a mere 10 cents.

The State Enforcement Service, which is responsible for enforcing the court ruling, has engaged a contractor – the construction company Smile Construction. 

The company was to receive UAH 772,000 for the works but since Smile Construction has taken the initiative to carry out all the work free of charge, the remaining funds will be transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine after tax deduction and submission of financial statements.

The excess funds received during the fundraising, which were retained on the Museum’s balance sheet, were used to purchase materials for the building’s demolition. The Museum will publicly report the amount spent.

After the ‘MAF’ is demolished, all the movable items will be stored by a custodian appointed by the state executor, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Park. They have the necessary storage space and have given their written consent. 

It should be noted that the official name of the ‘church-MAF’—‘Tithe Monastery of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary’—was chosen for the unauthorized construction solely to mislead, creating a straw man fallacy and the illusion of antiquity for the illegal building, implying a succession between it and the ancient Tithe Church, to which it has no actual relation. It is also telling that the rector of this so-called church was Gideon (Yuri Kharon), a person who holds several citizenships, including that of Russia.

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