February 26, 2024

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“Moscow is using its culture as a tool of war,” condemned the Ukrainian culture minister

“Moscow is using its culture as a tool of war,” condemned the Ukrainian culture minister

  • In Ukraine, Diane Regny, journalist 20 minutes He met Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister for Culture since June 2020, at Kew on Thursday.
  • With him, he certainly evokes the war in Ukraine, but illustrates how much the conflict has affected the country’s culture and the role of the minister in the devastated country.
  • “We encourage the neglect of Russian culture, because it is a cog in the Russian war machine,” assures Oleksandr Tkachenko, for his part.

From our special correspondent in Ukraine,

Appointment is made on Thursday at 11:30 am in Kyiv. Oleksandr Tkachenko will receive within the Ministry of Culture 20 minutes To stimulate art in a country at war. At the entrance to the ministry, the papers are checked, the security gate is passed. No digging, but waiting time to meet a minister, the phone “never sleeps”. Oleksandr Tkachenko’s assistant will begin a twenty-five-minute interview with an experienced minister. No tie here, but Zelensky hoodie. Prolix, Oleksandr Tkachenko reveals information and elements of language surrounded by books. On the meeting table, a Ukrainian book translated into French (subtly) posed. Behind his phone, the coat of arms and the colors of the country. And, facing 20 minutesA minister who blatantly incites “the biggest cultural looting of Ukraine” since World War II.

How much damage has the war done to Ukrainian culture?

The war turned everything upside down in our daily lives, and it certainly had an impact on Ukrainian culture. More than 1,300 cultural sites such as museums, theaters, bookstores or churches have been destroyed since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Ukraine suffered its greatest cultural looting World War II. Because of the war, we observe a reduction of 30 to 50% of local subsidies for culture, depending on the regions and the difficulties they face. We rely heavily on our European partners and we feel their support. For example, the French Minister of Culture, Reema Abdul Malak, visited Kyiv a month ago to announce the creation of a European film fund. Unfortunately this is not enough, Ukrainian culture needs more help to continue to flourish during the war.

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How does the cultural world exhibit resilience?

Ukrainian cultural actors understood that they had an important role to play. 75% of cultural workers remained in the country after the war. They speak with one voice and are united to promote Ukrainian culture. New projects are constantly coming out. Since the beginning of the war, 50 new theaters have been opened and 3,000 cultural events such as concerts or exhibitions have been organized. Europe. We observed a 10% increase in the creation of creations!

Many artists are stepping forward to support the Ukrainian forces by organizing cultural events such as concerts. »

Russia claims that Russian and Ukrainian cultures are one and the same. What do you think?

This is the story of the Kremlin. They say we have one culture, one people, one history. Ukraine is not a country. It’s a stupid design. When we look at history, we see that the Kremlin has been trying to destroy our people for centuries. For centuries, Russians have been fighting against Ukrainian culture, which is more democratic than theirs. They loot Ukrainian cultural works, which shows how much they understand the importance of our culture. Russian forces removed Ukrainian books from the occupied territories, including Kharkiv Oblast. This is proof that they want to destroy Ukrainian culture. They want to deny it.

Has your role as Minister of Culture changed since the start of the war?

Ask my doctor! (Laughs) Yes, my role has evolved as I am part of the opposition. My phone never sleeps. We have to respond to new problems. We must support Ukrainian art and artists, promote Ukrainian culture and fight against Moscow’s propaganda. We were able to implement great projects, such as sending a million books to Ukrainian children who fled the war at home and abroad. At the beginning of the war, we launched the “Telemarathon” project, uniting the largest television channels to broadcast information about the war with one voice, but the “Independent Channel” to provide information in Russian. [à destination des russophones d’Ukraine mais aussi des Russes qui souhaitent s’informer autrement]. Together with our European partners, we have also imposed sanctions on Russian media and artists who promote war.

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Calling to boycott Russian culture?

We encourage ignoring Russian culture because it is a cog in the Russian war machine. Moscow uses it as a tool of war. They carry Alexander Pushkin’s book in one hand, and in the other. Recently, we promoted the cancellation of the opera singer’s appearance Russian Anna Netrepko at the International Maifestspiele Wiesbadin festival Germany. This singer openly supported the war in Donbass [en 2014] And Vladimir PutinAlthough he has changed his rhetoric, he says he is for peace.

This is just an example, but it is important to understand that by giving a platform to these artists, we are also giving a platform to thought. The Kremlin. Because Russia does not hesitate to use its artists as symbols. I sometimes hear that culture is not part of war, but that is a mistake. Culture is not excluded from politics, less so during war!