Specialist gang is ‘targeting’ Ukrainian treasures for removal to Russia
A specialist gang is smuggling valuable historic artifacts out of Ukraine and into Russia, according to an international team of academics and digital technology experts who are tracking thefts.
“There is now very strong evidence this is a purposive Russian move, with specific paintings and ornaments targeted and taken out to Russia,” said Brian Daniels, an anthropologist working with archaeologists, historians, and digital imaging specialists.
From a laboratory in the U.S. state of Virginia, Daniels and his colleagues have monitored the despoiling and destruction of cultural targets since the invasion began and have detected patterns in the crimes.
The trail of thefts focuses heavily on precious Scythian gold. These are high-worth ancient filigree pieces, often depicting animals. They were produced by tribes of the area of central Asia and eastern Europe, once known as Scythia.
“There is a possibility it is all part of undermining the identity of Ukraine as a separate country by implying legitimate Russian ownership of all their exhibits.”