Dr Yurii Savchuc speaks about the importance of protecting Ukrainan cultural heritage,  at a gathering at the US Embassy in Stockholm.
Dr Yurii Savchuc speaks about the importance of protecting Ukrainan cultural heritage, at a gathering at the US Embassy in Stockholm.

Maria Haldesten: The fate of the Ukraine is also ours

When Sweden contributes to making cultural heritage come alive, it is an urgent complement to vital military support. The Russian aggressor is unlawfully targeting Ukrainian history, culture and identity.

Detta är en text från HN:s ledarredaktion. Ledarredaktionen arbetar självständigt men delar Centerpartiets ideologiska värderingar.


The clear voice of the fourteen year old sounds across the square. His Ukrainian song makes eyes water. It is the Mondaymovement's 99th meeting since the atrocious Russian invasion two years ago – and Tymur Vasylyshyns performances has become a standing feature.

It is an act of resistance that touches hearts. And there is research to prove that music plays an important part in times of war, as both a healing and a gathering force.

Thus it is the Bandura, not the valuable Ukrainian Iconframe that first catches my eye in the exhibition Crossroads at the Army Museum. The string instrument, lent out from the Museum for Theatre, Music and Film in Kiev, outshines the silver and gold. The Bandura reminds us of the importance to keep playing, while bombs are falling.


– We have worked intensively, day and night, to salvage cultural objects and heritage in our museums. At the same time we have, over and over again, opened up new exhibitions. It is important to keep culture alive, it brings people hope, says Dr Yurii Savchuck during a gathering about the Ukraine at the American Embassy in Stockholm. He is the General director of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the second world war.

He gently sqeezes my hand, as a gesture of gratitude over the commitment that Sweden is showing the Ukraine – amongst other things by showing the joint exhibition he has played a vital part in putting together. The unique artefacts are clear evidence of the historical connections between Sweden and the Ukraine, connections that can be traced back all the way to the age of the Vikings.

Bringing objects of art here can also function as an rescue operation. The Museum manager Fabian Arnheim reminds me of how callously warlords have treated art and cultural sites throughout history, deliberately erasing culture and folkore. Russia is no exception - rather the other way around. Cultural cleansing is one of Putins objects.


– Stealing or purposely destroying cultural heritage counts as a crime of war, David Kaye. American professor of law, underlines. He also lifts the importance of putting Russia on trial for all ongoing crimes of war.

But how do you choose what to salvage by hiding it, or what to take out of the country to safe, friendly countries? Yurii Savchuck has no straight answer. But he is clear about that the exhibitions set up in Sweden, the US and other countries serve as a way to make both older history come alive and to document and depict what happens here and now.

The exhibition at the Army Museum does both. Also the present cooperation with the Swedish armed forces is depicted by showing of photos. And there is more cooperation to come.

The same day as the gathering at the American Embassy, the Swedish government presented its 15th and so far biggest military aid package for the Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

It is important to stress that the support not only serves as a way to aid a neighbouring country. It is also a way to help ourselves. The fate of the Ukraine is - again - entwined with ours.


Yurii Savchuck is however soon to stress that all kinds of support is meaningful. And that everybody who contributes makes a difference, also all Swedish people who privately show their support.

The Art Exhibition and auction in Lottastugan in Varberg this summer, to support children who had lost parents during the war, is a lovely local example. The paintings, made by Ukrainian artists, hade climate change as a theme.

– We need to think sustainability, both for the future of the Ukraine and for the world, said Asya Khristokina, project ccordinator for that exhibition.

To think ahead, to see a future where Russia is put on trial for its illegal attack and horrendous crimes ot war, is what we need to have before our eyes today.

It is shameful that a researcher at Högskolan i Halmstad has spread a Russian narrative this year, stating that the West has provoked the war, and questioned the right of the Ukraine to make independent choices about who to cooperate with. Thankfully that sort of intellectual shortcomings is the exception.

In Sweden there is wide and strong support for the fight for the freedom of the Ukraine – a country who's history partly also is ours. When Museum manager Fabian Arnheim is asked to show the most important piece of the exhibition Crossroads he points to the written copy of the the first Ukrainian Constitution – that was brought to Sweden in the 18th Century. It might not have to be said that the 300 year old document stresses the freedom from Russian authority...


Slava Ukraini!