Oleksii Danilov: The world should stop confusing us with russians, we are not the same
On Friday, 8 December 2023, the “Cultural Front. The Art of Victory” Forum dedicated to the preservation of Ukraine’s historical and cultural heritage started in Lviv. Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, joined the event online. He greeted the participants and stressed that the task of Ukrainians is to ensure that the world finally stops confusing us with russians, because we are not the same. “Unfortunately, since 1991, we have been shy about our culture. For some reason, we were eager to be involved in common processes with our crazy neighbour. And this is a huge mistake.
We should have done the opposite – we should have gone on a cultural front throughout Ukraine, including Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, – said Oleksii Danilov.
The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine noted that russia has been working for years to appropriate the Ukrainian cultural space. However, today we are returning to our powerful roots.
“We don’t need anything that doesn’t belong to us. It is important to get back what is ours. We want the world to know our culture and history. And finally, stop confusing us with russians and making us a single cultural circle”, – emphasised Oleksii Danilov.
He also assured that “there's always another day”, and thanks to their unity, Ukrainians will definitely gain the victory over the russian federation “which can do nothing but destroy”.
For his part, one of the Forum’s organisers, Taras Vozniak, a cultural and political scientist and director general of the Borys Voznytskyi National Art Gallery in Lviv, reminded the audience of a famous statement by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who during the World War II had refused a proposal to cut spending on culture for the sake of defence: “If we are not fighting for culture, then what are we fighting for?” “That is why”, – says Taras Vozniak, – “we must not forget about our cultural code even in times of war.”
“How is a cultural code formed? Through education. There is a civilisational gap between Ukrainians and russians, which can be seen in the example of the two cultures. We, Ukrainians, know and protect our roots – our identity, our originality”, – he stressed.
For reference: The Art of Victory Forum is part of the Cultural Front project implemented by the Pidhirtsi Castle Charitable Foundation with the support of the Press, Education and Culture Section of the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine. The event is attended by employees of museum and archival institutions, diplomats, experts, representatives of central and local authorities, and business from Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic States, and the United States.
To date, 534 episodes of russian war crimes against Ukraine’s cultural heritage have been documented. As a result of russian shelling in Ukraine, about 700 cultural heritage sites have been destroyed or damaged.