Ukraine museums president accuses Russian colleagues of crimes against humanity

Ukraine museums president accuses Russian colleagues of crimes against humanity


norman lebrecht

March 21, 2014

Serhey Layevsky, President of the Ukrainian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has published an open letter ‘to my despised and no longer colleagues’ in Russia, who signed the letter supporting Putin’s venture into Crimea. His targets include the directors of the Glinka and Tchaikovsky museums. ‘I merely want to get you thinking about how you have become complicit in crimes against humanity…’ he writes. Full letter here (with Google translate).


tchaik piano




Recently, the Russian Minister of Culture said that the Russians have one extra chromosome . Of course, he knows best, it explains a lot . All the fault of Ukraine in terms of Putin and his entourage is that Ukrainians want to be free in their country and no longer want to live in your community where Russian rudeness rules.

         I have nothing to ask. I want merely to get you thinking about that now have become complicit in crimes against humanity. I want you to think about how you will look into the eyes of mothers whose children tomorrow will kill my brothers and sisters. I want you to think about what you say to those mothers , whose children after tomorrow will return with Ukraine in the coffins.


  • ed says:

    “Crimes against humanity”? If that language is now applied to the secession of a province based on the will of the people who have seceded, does it not pervert the memory of the Holocaust, and those other genocides and wars of aggression which were the real crimes? I won’t comment further on Mr. Layevsky’s letter further, but I wonder what the thugs now in power would have done to him if he hadn’t written it.

    • Brian says:

      “ed”, or whoever you are, you are an apologist for marxist imperialist thuggery. Nobody takes you seriously except fellow aparatchiks.

      • Anonymus says:

        Excuse me, but what has any of this to do with Marxism? In your cold war mental imprints probably…

      • ed says:

        Actually, Brian, I am a ‘kinder and gentler capitalist’, more in the tradition of America’s second greatest President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but I suppose to those whose political affiliations are right of Attila the Hun it means I pitch with my left hand.

    • kitty says:

      “Will of the people” — you mean those people who had Russian passports but were allowed to vote (Ukraine doesn’t allow dual citizenship) or those people who voted multiple times?

      BTW — if 97% of people were for Russia, who did they need protection from? 3%?

  • What has the second movement of Tschaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto to do with this? How about the opening of Symphony no.2?

  • David Conway says:

    Nice attempt at black propaganda, Ed.

    • ed says:

      With all due respect, for someone who has been in Ukraine, and been associated with CIVITAS, a less than credible NGO despite its stated mandate as I understand you have been, I really wonder where you are coming from. When you were not familiar with the names I cited in an earlier post- persons who were some of the most respected Intelligence professionals in the US, it told me something about the depth your knowledge and your intentions. As for black ops propaganda, the US and NATO take the cake, including with Ukraine, and it does you no credit to parrot their line.

      • kitty says:

        I am Russian (originally) and unlike you I can actually read not just the official Russian press, but also independent Russian press. This is where I get my information from, not the US websites. All of the independent Russian press tell stories of double voting, Russian troups without insignia that occupied Crimea before the referendum, Russian citizens voting, no lists of voters by polling place, so anybody could vote in five different places. The Ukranian tv stations were all closed, so only one point of view was presented before the referendum, there was no time, no discussion, the choices presented with ads that showed the map of Crimea over the Russian flag vs the map of Crimea over swastika. As to NATO and the US wanting the Ukraine – this is your paranoia, thinking everyone is out to get Russia. The Ukranian people had enough of the corrupt government.

        BTW – why are independent Russian websites currently blocked in Russia? They say they incite terrorism, but there was nothing of the type there. I am talking about,,, and blog of Navalny. They were just telling the truth which by the way many people in Moscow agree with given how the demonstration against the annexation of Crimea drew tens of thousands of people.

        Oh, and how about prominent Russian intellectuals like Bitov, Voynovich, Erofeev, Efremov, Rjazanov, etc. who wrote against this war: (if you are in Russia, you may not be able to read it.

        I guess according to you they also agents of NATO and the US, right?

  • PR Deltoid says:

    The irony of all this is that, if Ukrainians want a Ukraine that is more unified and less Russian-influenced, getting rid of Crimea (possibly the most pro-Russian place on earth) is a good first step.

    • It doesn’t seem to be all that firmly attached to the mainland of Ukraine, actually, and the Russians can get there from the east without passing through Ukraine.

      • PR Deltoid says:

        “It doesn’t seem to be all that firmly attached to the mainland of Ukraine”

        The Russian writer Vasily Aksyonov wrote a satirical novel “The Island of Crimea” around 1980. The thesis of the novel is that the thin little isthmus attaching it to the mainland didn’t exist, and therefore the anti-Bolshevik forces were able to hold Crimea and eventually turn it into a capitalist, Western, but still Russian state.

  • M.A. Steinberger says:

    Considering the Ukrainians were the nastiest of anyone to their Jewish countrymen during, and even after, the Holocaust, they have a helluva nerve accusing anyone of crimes against humanity.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Yours is a very curious statement, if words still mean something.

      Let’s say you’re right : Ukrainians actually “were the nastiest”. Does it justify crimes committed against them?

      The letter wasn’t written by “the Ukrainians”, but by one Ukrainian, the one who signed it.

      I don’t know his age, but it seems probable that he wasn’t even born “during the Holocaust”. Have you something to accuse him of, personally?

      Or do you apply collective responsibility here?

  • PWT says:

    The crime against humanity here is Russia’s one-sided breaking of the Budapest protocols of 1992 in which Russia agreed to respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal. The crime here is that this sets back any further nuclear non-proliferation deals for generations because Russia has demonstrated that it is an unreliable partner. Watch what now happens with the nuclear arms discussions with Iran or North Korea, in which, in both cases, Russia has played a major role.

    • Anonymus says:

      Yeah, well, under which protocols actually were the US’ financing of the Ukrainian opposition – including fascists, right wing extremists and anti-semites – and stirring of unrest actually covered? The Langley protocols? The Brzezinski Doctrine?

      • PWT says:

        Sorry, Anonymous, this line of argumentation doesn’t hold water. First, evidence of US financing is slim to none, while evidence of Russian influence and boots on the ground is overwhelming. Yes, there are authoritarian Ukrainian nationalists and they should be roundly condemned, but you have got to hold authoritarian Russian nationalists here to the same standard. If you’re going to call one group fascist and right-wing extremists, you’ve got to call the other exactly the same. And at the moment, Ukraine is negotiating towards a democratic pluralistic society, with a caretaker government willing to sacrifice their own political futures, while Russia is moving in exactly the opposite direction, detaining dissidents, eliminating opposition press, etc..

        • Anonymus says:

          Ukraine is a close neighbor to Russia and Russians are a seizable share of its overall population, in some parts of the east and south Russians are even the majority. So Russia’s interests in the region, its own backyard, are rather obvious.

          The US on the other hand has what interest exactly in this remote place?

          The US financing is well documented btw. US officials have publicly numbered the support for the Ukrainian opposition as exceeding 5 billion US $ over the years, and that doesn’t include black money channeled through NGOs…

          Also it doesn’t matter what kind of government a country has, democratic or more autocratic, when it comes to respecting sovereignty and international law. The US for instance is the last one that can claim to care if it deals with a dirty dictator or an angelic democratic government, as long as the “friend” is submitting to US interests, as we can show with numerous examples from the recent past.

          Remember, the machete swinging infidels beheading Islamists are our friends now all over the world, e.g. in Syria of Libya, as long as they are our enemy’s enemy.

          And why should I call Russians that have not said anything right-wing or fascist such, when the Ukrainian elements we are talking about have done exactly that? You are not coherent in your argument.

          • PWT says:

            5 billion? Totally preposterous, Anonymous. US Aid to Israel, the top recipient of US funds, is around 3 Billion per annum, a figure that can be verified by consulting the US budget. There is nothing of that scale in US support to Ukraine and never has been and US budgets can be consulted to verify this fact. Indeed, the complaints against Obama these days are that he did not do enough for Ukraine. And legally speaking, there are Russian speaking citizens of the Ukraine, of both Russian, Ukrainian and other ancestry, but there are not, in terms of international law, Russians in the Ukraine.The borders of the Ukraine were established by international law and the Russian Federation agreed to those borders and to Ukrainian sovereignty in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal. And the abundant authoritarian and nationalistic language and actions coming out of the Kremlin is plenty of evidence that right-wing, indeed Fascist, ideology is alive and well in Moscow.

            The US interest in this matter is most fundamentally that of insuring that international law and agreements are upheld in the sphere of nuclear disarmament. In one move, Russia has violated its promise to the world with regard to Ukrainian nuclear arms, one of the few real triumphs of post-89 diplomacy, and North Korea and Iran now enter into arms control talks knowing exactly the value of the Russian Federation’s word: zero. Perhaps there were real grievances over the borders between Russia and the Ukraine; they should have been settled in a deliberative and democratic way, using the wisdom of time rather than at the costs of Russia putting boots on the ground and breaking its promise to the world.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            The 5 billion Victoria Nulland mentioned cover 23 years of independence. 217 million a year. Usually “anonymuses” put these 5 billion into carefully prepared phrases to make the reader believe the 5 billion financed just the last events.

          • Anonymus says:

            Yes PWT, 5 billion. Preposterous, I agree, but the reality. That amount “over the years” – as I wrote – does not include yet even more black money that was channeled through NGOs.

            The geopolitical game that is played, is the attempt by the US to diminish Russia’s power and influence under the disguise of steady NATO expansion toward Russia’s borders.

            Despite a promise given to Russia at the German reunification negotiations, that NATO would definitely NOT expand eastwards into the Russian security sphere of influence.

            Now WHO broke his word?

            Who was ready to break international law, encouraging the division of nation states (Yugoslavia) justified by referendums, as long as it served the main purpose, damaging Russia and its allies (e.g. Serbia)?

            You know the answer yourself.

            Russia has been f***ed over and over and ignored by the US led west badly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. No wonder Putin doesn’t really care anymore and now secures Russian interests unilaterally. He had to learn the lesson, that the US policies do not include cooperation and peaceful coexistence with Russia, but a slow and subversive war just below the threshold of direct hostilities but with any other means. The US intention is to keep Russia down and prevent it from becoming a bigger geopolitical power. The rest is circumstantial.

            Just look at the realities and the recent history.

          • Anonymus says:

            @Gounot Backson: those who can read are clearly at an advantage. I wrote “over the years”.

            Heil USA!


          • kitty says:

            “Russians are a seizable share of its overall population”

            First of all, Ukraine doesn’t allow dual citizenship, so these people are citizens of Ukraine and not Russia. They may be ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers, but just because one country has a sizeable population of people of certain ethnicity and language doesn’t give this country any rights to dictate what another country does. Should France have the right to annex Quebec because there is a sizeable French-speaking population there? There are many Russian-speakers on Brighton Beach, does it mean Russia have interests there? Many Spanish-speakers in California, doesn’t mean Mexico has the right to invade.

            As to the US being “subversive” to Russia – this is typical Putin lies and propaganda. Anytime anywhere in the world people had enough of dictators, Russia claims it’s the US fault and you believe it.

            For the record, I think Crimea should’ve stayed with Russia in 1992, Russia should’ve insisted on it. But she didn’t. If it had been an honest referendum, with time to prepare, both sides represented, lists of eligible voters by polling place, etc., it’s very possible the majority would’ve voted for Russia. In this case, the results would’ve been legitimate, but the way it was they weren’t.

  • Michael Borovsky says:

    Interesting… Now that Yatzenyuk took skifs gold to New York, these people are accusing Russians in cultural crimes? Let say Mubarack would empty Egypt’s museum to secure a loan for… mmm 1bn dollars? Are we in some parallel reality world? What would be a punishment for such deed?

    • ed says:

      Precisely, and depending upon the amount of gold transferred, maybe it was not a loan to Ukraine, but a loan or advance to the US. The Germans right now can’t get their gold back.

      • Gonout Backson says:

        Dear Anonymous,

        Just as careful as you are, I wrote “usually”.

        217 mil dollars a year is 30% less than the yearly budget of the Metropolitan Opera.

        “Who was ready to break international law, encouraging the division of nation states (Yugoslavia) justified by referendums, as long as it served the main purpose, damaging Russia and its allies (e.g. Serbia)?”.

        This is plain nonsense. The division of the Yugoslavian Federation happened in strict accordance with the Yugoslavian constitution. It was the result of a long, democratic process (free elections in 1990) and a open, Serbian provocation (26/6/1990, Kosovo deprived of its autonomous status). On May 17th the Serbs break the presidential system, refusing to accept the Croatian presidency of the Federation. On the 26th of June 1990, after two perfectly legal referendums, Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence from the Federation. That very night they are invaded by Serbian (“federal”) forces. On the 7th of July UE freezes the independence process, and the two republics suspend their decision for 3 months. Unfortunately, the “federal” army doesn’t freeze its invasion (massacre in Vukovar, november 1991). Only after the Croatia war is over, and Zagreb loses a huge part of its territory (kept for four years under “international protection…”), EU, very unwillingly, recognizes the two independent republics (January 1991).

        No one “encouraged” this, on the contrary (ask Mr Malcolm Rifkind and Mr Warren Christopher), the Serbs brought it on themselves with their “imperial” appetites.

        • Anonymus says:

          Warren Christopher hardly represented the – mostly non-elected – forces within the US services and government, that are the holy grail keepers of the long term strategies and geopolitical agendas. The breakup of Yugoslavia might have been inevitable. Still US involvement, official and secret, in the whole Balkan conflict is substantial and followed a geopolitical agenda…

          Re 217 mil $ a year: That 5 billion US $ hardly trickled steadily for 23 years, but it was spent more recently in increasing amounts. First to finance the so called “orange revolution”, and now to overthrow the Ukrainian government again and replace them with US influenced patsies.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            The breakup of Yugoslavia was evitable. But not by bullying Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia, while protecting the only culprit, Serbia. That’s what Mitterrand and Thatcher were doing, obsessed by the reunification of Germany. The US got involved years after it was over.

            Since you seem to know the details of the US spending in Ukraine, please, give us the numbers, year by year. Maybe I shall finally hear the answer for the question I have been asking for months now : how much per capita, per day, per week, for standing for three months outside, in the cold, being beaten, kidnapped, tortured and shot at.

          • kitty says:

            I am not going to argue about Serbia because I was against the US involvement there. So let’s agree the US actions there were wrong – do two wrongs make a right? Do Ukranian people (and I mean the citizens of the Ukraine) or Crimean Tatars who boycotted the referendum care about what the US did?

  • Gonout Backson says:

    Sorry for the typing error: the Slovenian and Croatian independence declarations happened, of course, in June 1991, not 1990.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    And, consequently, the official recognition is January 1992.