The Russian military removed from Mariupol museums more than two thousand unique exhibits, Mariupol city council's Telegram channel reports. All the exhibits from the local history and art museums have been completely removed, says Peter Andryushchenko, adviser to the city mayor.
«There were seven original masterpieces stored in Mariupol, which according to preliminary information were handed over to the occupiers by Natalia Kapustnikova, director of the Mariupol Local History Museum, who knew the exact location of the masterpieces and personally handed them over,» Andryushchenko claims.
Among the taken exhibits were the following three original paintings by Arkhip Kuindzhi: «Red Sunset,» «Autumn» and «Elbrus.» The Russian military also stole Ivan Aivazovsky's original «Off the Coast of the Caucasus,» paintings by Nikolai Dubovsky, three unique icons and a bust of Arkhip Kuindzhi by sculptor Vladimir Beklemishev.
In his post, Andryushchenko also claims the director of the Mariupol Local History Museum Natalia Kapustnikova «spread false information» about the destruction of the museum by «Azov». «She says she «personally saw [it]» on March 15. However, Diana Trima, head of the City Council's Department of Culture, visited both museums on the afternoon of March 15 just before the evacuation and can testify that Kapustnikova lies,» Andryushchenko says.
The information was confirmed by Kapustnikova herself. She told Izvestia she had saved the paintings of Kuindzhi after the shelling of the museum by the AFU. «The head of the museum did not have time to carry the paintings to the main building, so she hid them away. I knew where they were. When the fighting ended, we went and looked there. We took them out lest they get stolen. We did what we could to get them to safety,» she told the newspaper.
During World War II, the Nazis and their allies looted museums on invaded territories en masse. For example, after the surrender of France, Adolf Hitler ordered the confiscation of works of art belonging to the French state and private individuals. Art objects from France and other occupied territories were to be partially displayed in the «Führer Museum» in Linz, which also had on display stolen libraries of worldview studies and teachings. Art objects stolen during the war are also referred to as trophy art.