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The damage from the destruction of cultural and religious sites during the war have exceeded $1.5 billion

16 March 2023

As of February 2023, at least 2,148 cultural and religious institutions have suffered direct damage due to the full-scale invasion started by Russia on February 24, 2022.

According to experts from the KSE Institute’s “Russia will pay” project, the total amount of damage to cultural and religious institutions is estimated at over $1.5 billion. The total number of damaged or destroyed objects in these spheres is more than 2,148. Among them are 703 cultural buildings/palaces of culture, 348 religious buildings, 82 museums, and 22 theaters.

The most affected regions in terms of cultural and religious sites are the Kharkiv region, with 38.3%, the Donetsk region, with 16.2%, and the Luhansk region, with 7.5%.

Due to constant shelling, the historic center of Kharkiv and many cultural heritage sites in the city have suffered significant damage. These include the Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater M.V. Lysenko, which is part of the UNESCO cultural heritage registry, and the Kharkiv Art Museum. The Kharkiv House of “Slovo” was also destroyed, damaged by a missile-artillery projectile strike on March 7, 2022, as well as the Hryhorii Skovoroda¬† Museum in the village of Skovorodynivka.

In the Donetsk region, cultural monuments such as Sviatohirsk Lavra of the Holy Dormition, which was hit by Russian army shelling on July 1, 2022, and is part of the UNESCO cultural heritage registry. And the Mariupol Local History Museum, Center for Contemporary Art and Culture AI Kuindzhi were destroyed. The Drama Theater in Mariupol was completely destroyed by a bomb-aircraft strike on March 16, 2022.

The war has also caused significant damage to the Church in honor of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow, which is registered as a cultural heritage site by UNESCO, as well as the Luhansk Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater. Many other cultural and religious sites have also been damaged or destroyed.

As a result of the war, significant damage was also inflicted on the Temple in honor of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow, which is a registered cultural heritage site of UNESCO, and the Luhansk Regional Academic Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater. The collection of Scythian gold, which was discovered by archaeologists in the 1950s and was stored in the Melitopol Museum in Zaporizhzhia region, was also lost after it was stolen by Russian occupation forces.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, important cultural and religious objects have been damaged, including the Mykolaiv City Palace of Culture “Korabelnyi”, which was damaged at the July, and the Museum of Antiquities in Chernihiv, which was destroyed by an air strike at the beginning of March 2022.

The UNESCO organization for the protection of cultural heritage also conducted a preliminary assessment of the destruction caused by the war, according to which more than 240 objects have already been partially or completely destroyed. More details about the destruction of these objects can be found on the UNESCO website.

Detailed data on destruction and damage caused to objects of culture and religion were collected by the Institute of the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE Institute) as part of the project to develop independent methodologies for the analytical assessment of infrastructure damage and economic losses caused by Russia’s aggression, which is implemented by the KSE Institute in cooperation with the USAID Economic Resilience Activity. The content of this publication is the responsibility of the Institute of the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE Institute) and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the Government of the United States of America.