Ukraine’s Kherson Art Museum has identified 100 works allegedly looted from its collection by Russian forces thanks to a “propaganda video” shot in a Crimean museum.

“Looters document their crimes with their own hands, and this allows us to determine the whereabouts of at least some of the stolen art,” the museum wrote on social media. According to a Facebook post by the Kherson Art Museum, the video was recorded in Crimea’s Central Museum of Tavrida and aired on Russian television in last September.

99 of the 100 identified works are believed by the museum to be in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula that was illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014. Ukraine and its allies do not recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, a critical entryway into the Eastern Mediterranean, and have campaigned for its recovery since its occupation began.

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Among the works identified is Fishermen On The Seashore (1932) by Ivan Shulha, who was a renowned graphic designer, educator, and painter in the Soviet Socialist Realism tradition. Also sighted was Daughter of Guzel (1967) by watercolorist Venera Takaieva, and a 1967 oil painting by Yefrem Zverkov, a prominent landscape painter and founder of the “strict style” genre of Socialist Realism.

Ivan Shulha, Fishermen on the seashore, (1932).

The Kherson Art Museum said that three additional oil paintings by Ksenia Stetsenko, Anatolii Platonov, and Antonin Fomintsev, previously included among the thousands of artworks removed by Russian military from Ukrainian museums “under the guise of the so-called ‘evacuation’”, were also spotted in the video.

The museum estimated that the 100 works of art comprise “less than 1 percent” of what has been recorded as looted from Ukrainian cultural institutions.

“Every painting, every graphic work, every piece of artwork, everything we identify, is indisputable proof that the stolen works (at least these) are in the hands of Russian art looters,” the Kherson Art Museum wrote on Facebook. “And to prevent the criminals from saying that ‘they weren’t there,’ as is their habit, we are recording everything we see in the photos and videos from Crimea and Henichesk.”

The systematic plunder of Ukrainian museums by Russian forces, as well as the destruction of Ukrainian cultural heritage, has been documented by Ukrainian media outlets since the beginning of the invasion in February 2022. Prior to the Russian military’s retreat from Kherson, local cultural workers said that nearly the entire collection of the Kherson Regional Art Museum had been cleaned out, while valuable artifacts from the Shovkunenko Regional Art Museum, which specializes in fine and decorative arts from Ukraine and Russia, were also pilfered. 

In Mariupol, one of the first cities occupied in the invasion, a trove of prized Scythian gold dating back to the fourth century BCE was stolen. 

Ukrainian politicians have decried these incidents as an attack on their national identity. Russia has also been accused of violating the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which was established after World War II and prohibits signatories from “any form of theft” of cultural property. Russia and Ukraine both signed the treaty.