A museum director in illegally annexed Crimea has been sanctioned because he is holding thousands of works from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, which was temporarily seized by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s forces late last year.
Andrei Vitalievich Malgin, who was named by The Art Newspaper in February, was sanctioned by the European Union (EU) and Switzerland on 27 June. We reported that he had participated in a meeting with Putin in 2021, telling the Russian president that Ukraine was facing a revival of “Nazi ideology”. Putin responded to Malgin: “Thank you very much and I wish you every success.”
At the end of October 2022 Russian troops and technicians arrived at the Kherson Fine Art Museum, in what was then temporarily Russian-occupied Ukraine. They took a large number of paintings and other works, removing them to Crimea, where they were deposited at the Simferopol Art Museum (also known as the Central Museum of Taurida), which is headed by Malgin. As far as is known, they remain in storage there. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson in November 2022, a week after the removal.
The EU sanctions record is dated 21 June 2023: “Andrei Malgin is the director of the Central Museum of Taurida in Simferopol, in illegally annexed Crimea. Art works were transferred from the Kherson Fine Art Museum to the Central Museum of Taurida in Simferopol, where they are currently kept under his control. In acting in this capacity, Andrei Malgin is responsible for supporting and implementing actions and policies which undermine and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine.”
Also sanctioned by the EU is Natalya Leonidovna Desyatova (also known by the alias Lyutova), who was appointed in July 2022 as the new director of the Kherson museum by the Russian authorities. “When Kherson was still under the control of the Russian armed forces, the cultural property of the Kherson Fine Art Museum was removed from the museum in October and November 2022 and taken illegally to Simferopol, in illegally annexed Crimea. This was done under Desyatova’s control and with the assistance of Russian security forces,” the sanctions record states.
Desyatova has been separately sanctioned by the US government for having “engaged or attempted to engage in, activities that undermine the peace, security, political stability, or territorial integrity of the United States, its allies, or its partners, for or on behalf of, or for the benefit of, directly or indirectly, the Government of the Russian Federation”. According to the US State Department, Desyatova “oversaw the theft of approximately 10,000 items from the [Kherson] museum’s collection”.
Source: The Art Newspaper