Thursday, 19 January 2023

Polish "Efforts to STOP Ukrainian artefact smuggling". Effects?

This, from Poland, takes the biscuit: EJ/MD (PAP), 'Culture minister highlights risk of trade in stolen Ukrainian artefacts' PAP Jan 18, 2023

Ukraine’s cultural heritage could be looted and traded on illegal markets as a result of the Russian invasion, Poland’s culture minister warned on Wednesday. Speaking at the opening of a UNESCO workshop in Warsaw entitled 'Fighting the illicit trafficking of Ukrainian cultural property: sub-regional capacity-building training for law enforcement and the judiciary' Piotr Gliński, who is also a deputy prime minister, thanked the UN cultural body for addressing the issue. "This important UNESCO initiative, in cooperation with its Polish partner, is a unique opportunity for experts to exchange practical experience concerning counteracting the illegal export of cultural goods related to the growing threat of antiquities being smuggled from Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion," Gliński said. He added that Polish experts were active in the recovery of stolen art given that Poland had an estimated 500,000 items stolen by German and Soviet forces during Second World War. "Based on our experience from World War II, Polish experts remain engaged in the protection and rescue of cultural heritage the world over," Gliński said, highlighting Ukraine in this regard. "One of the threats faced in war-torn Ukraine is the illegal export, and more widely, the illegal trade in moveable monuments," he said.
Wow. Chutzpah. First of all the experiences of the Communist 'bezpieka' in recvering Nazi loot (and inability to recover much of the Red Army loot) after the Second World War is neither here nor there. The conditions at present are entirely different. Secondly, I am interested to know what exchange there was of the "practical experience concerning counteracting the illegal export of cultural goods ... being smuggled from Ukraine" from Polish experts in the field considering that at this very moment there are disturbing quantities of Ukrainian antiquities (including coins) on open sale on websites operating from within Poland. At this very moment. And this has been going on in Poland for the last five (and to a lesser extent at least eight) years or so. So what steps are being taken to deal with this? Maybe Minister Glinski can tell us just which Polish laws are being applied to this issue. I am not holding my breath as they are the same ones that failed to deal with Bulgarian traffickers that some of us were trying to stop some time ago. Polish police did not want to touch it. So what actually are Polish authorities doing about this issue?

I hope UNESCO will be publishing the proceedings of this workshop. 

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