Volunteers wrap statues outside St. George's Cathedral to prevent eventual damage, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lviv, Ukraine, March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Fearing Russian shelling, Ukrainians try to shield their heritage (2022)

After Russian forces began attacking Ukrainian cities such as Mariupol, museums and local authorities rushed to protect their heritage, stowing away precious artworks, religious icons, and fortifying national monuments.

1 min read

In the cobblestoned western city of Lviv, a team led by restorer Andriy Fedoryshyn has been using plexiglass, fire-proof padding and heavy duty canvas to protect statues outside their 18th century baroque cathedral.

“After having seen how Russia is destroying residential blocks and infrastructure facilities in our cities, we realized that preventive measures are needed to protect Lviv architectural landmarks,” Fedoryshyn told Reuters.

St George’s Cathedral, which sits on a hilltop in Lviv, belongs to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. In the 1940s it was handed by Stalin to the Orthodox church, until it was returned to the Catholics in the 1990s.

Lviv, once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, became a symbol of the persecution that the Catholic Church experienced under Soviet communism.

“Working tirelessly, we try to protect them as much as we can to bring the destruction of landmarks to a minimum,” Fedoryshyn said.

REUTERS/Liashonok Nina

Earlier this week in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, workers built walls of sandbags several metres high around a monument to Duc de Richelieu, the early 19th century governor who helped transform the Black Sea port into a modern city.

Museum staff in Kharkiv also moved historic artworks to safety, many of them by Russian artists, including Ilya Repin’s “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks”.


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