Walk of Truth founder comments on Crimean Art dispute

BBC Radio interview: 18th April 2014

The Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam is faced with a tough dilemma regarding the return of precious Crimean artifacts and jewels once the current exhibition “Crimea- Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” is over: Should it return the artifacts to Crimea or Russia? Evidently, Russia is trying to seize these artifacts before Ukraine, or even Crimean Authorities can get hold of them.

Tasoula Hadjitofi, cultural activist and founder of Walk of Truth was summoned by the BBC to comment on the Crimean Art row, given her extensive background on the protection of cultural heritage.


Earlier in April, she spoke to De Telegraaf about the creation of a ‘Museum of Looted Art’ as a temporary refuge to disputed arts, such as the Crimean arts or the stolen treasures from the notorious Aydin Dikmen ‘Munich Case.’ She also recently made a plea to the Dutch government to establish this museum in the Hague to act as a temporary shelter to objects of illicit trade.

Hadjitofi expressed her concern with Russia’s attempt to politicize cultural heritage which belongs to humanity.

“In every war or armed conflict, destruction of cultural heritage has always taken place,’ she told BBC correspondent, Anna Holligan, who asked in return: “Why do you think Russia is so keen to take these (artifacts) back to St. Petersburg.”

“Have you ever seen a conqueror who doesn’t take trophies back home?” Hadjitofi replied matter-of-factly, alluding to this action as a ‘sign of victory.’

Hadjitofi added that if the Dutch decide to hand these artifacts back to Russia, this will make them players in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia over Crimea.

“If the Netherlands returns these to Russia, it’s like they are putting a seal of approval to the loss of Crimea’s independence,” Hadjitofi explained.

The contested artifacts, which date back to the 4th century BC, were discovered a decade ago, buried in the graves of warriors and princesses. The Allard Pierson Museum has extended the Crimea exhibition from May to August 2014, in hope that diplomacy can succeed in art.