Selling Ukrainian Heritage: Russian Involvement in the Illicit Trade of Ukrainian Past

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Selling Ukrainian Heritage: Russian Involvement in the Illicit Trade of Ukrainian Past

19th October 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

In the past twenty years Russia has experienced a steep increase in the number of cases of discovery and trade in antiquities acquired through illicit means. Since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the territories in the Donbas region, Ukrainian antiquities have been looted by Russian treasure hunters and sold off by unconscientious, Russia supporting, heritage staff.

With the domestic, rouble, market offering a limited reward for illicit activities, Russian traders have sought to transport and sell looted items at Western auction houses. Examples of this include the attempted smuggling of a Viking age sword to Estonia, in 2016, since returned to Ukraine, the sale of a Ukrainian medieval coin hoard in Saint Petersburg in 2012 and the transportation of coins to the EU, the sale of a unique Ukrainian bronze age helmet in Britain and Austria, and the recent looting of “Scythian gold” antiquities, transported to Russian, which have since disappeared.

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to this in-person panel discussion about the extent of the illicit trade of antiquities through Russia, the consequences of the February invasion of Ukraine to the preservation of Ukrainian heritage, possible means to track trafficked antiquities and means to curtail future sales of illicitly acquired antiquities from occupied regions of Ukraine.


Lord Cormack has spent fifty-two years in Parliament, forty in the House of Commons and nearly twelve in the House of Lords. During his long period in the Commons he was a Senior Chairman of Committees and served on numerous Select Committees, including the Foreign Affairs Committee. In 1974 he founded the All Party Arts and Heritage Group and served as Chairman for some twenty-five years. He is currently its President. From 1997 until 2001 he was the Opposition Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs and from 2005-2010 Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

He is Chairman of the All Party Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber, was one of the founders of the Parliamentary “House” magazine in 1976 and is its Life President. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Conservative Peers.

He has published eight books including one on English cathedrals and another on British castles and a Life of William Wilberforce. When he left the Commons he moved back to his native Lincolnshire and is Chairman of the Historic Lincoln Trust and President of Heritage Lincolnshire.  In March 2022 was given the Freedom of the City of Lincoln.



Dr Kyrylo Myzgin is currently a scientific adjunct at the Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw. He has graduated V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University in 2005 and worked there in 2006-2015. In 2010 he has defended PhD thesis (“Ancient coins from the sites of the Chernyakhiv Culture”). The main area of his research interests are the finds of ancient coins on the territory of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as archaeology of the late Roman period and the Great Migration period in this region.

He had studentships in College of International Cultural Exchange (Central China University, Wuhan, China, 2003), scholarships in Bonn (DAAD, 2011), Frankfurt am Main (Roman-Germanic Commission DAI, 2014) and Oxford (Kraay Travel scholarship, Ashmolean Museum, 2014). In the 2015-2018 realized at the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, three year project in the frames of post-doctoral program “Fuga-4”, financed by the Polish National Science Centre. Currently he is Fellow of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (program for experienced researchers) and implements his project in Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (Schleswig, Germany).

Dr Myzgin has participated in more than 10 Polish and international numismatics and archaeological projects, managed and co-managed of archaeological excavations on the Late Roman – Early Migration Periods sites in the Eastern Ukraine (2004-2018), author and co-author more than 150 publications, including one monograph.



Dr Stepan Stepanenko received his BA (Hons) and MA by research from the University of York and went on to complete a PhD at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of Paris Sciences et Lettres with a focus on Ukraine. In his academic career Stepan presented at a multitude of academic conferences and authored publications in peer reviewed journals, individually and in collaboration. He is also currently an Associate Member of the CNRS UMR 8167.

In British politics, Stepan has worked with the Conservative Party, running for election in the London Borough of Barnet in 2014 and co-founding the Conservative Friends of Ukraine in 2021. He continues to work on cross party humanitarian projects with a focus on Ukraine.



Catherine Perez-Shakdam is a French Jewish political analyst and commentator for the Middle East. A former consultant for the United Nations Security Council on Yemen’s War Economy; her research was instrumental in better understanding Yemen’s political landscape and actors’ financial interests.

Her writing and commentaries on the Middle East have graced the cover of countless publications, including the Huffington Post, BBC Arabic, BBC Persia, Voices of America, and the Times of Israel.

In 2017 Catherine was the only Western media personality to have been granted an interview with now-President Ibrahim Raisi.

Her ability to move close to Iran’s Leadership and have access to key information as to the regime’s propagandist structure bought her the ire of Tehran and allegations that she had operated in Iran at the behest of foreign powers.

Once a close friend to Nader Talebzadeh, Catherine had a front row seat to the inner-workings of the Islamic Republic.






The Henry Jackson Society was pleased to welcome Lord Cormack and Dr Kyrylo Myzgin for a discussion on the illicit trade of Ukrainian antiquities through Russia, in addition to their destruction. Lord Cormack began by discussing the devastating items which have been destructed, and the disappearance of items traded in illicit markets, particularly in Russia itself, whilst highlighting the importance of differentiation between illicit trading and destruction due to the Ukraine war. Dr Kyrylo Myzgin then brought attention to the large number of illicit detectorists ‘treasure hunting’ in Ukraine and the subsequent selling of these antiques at European auctions at high prices. Dr Stepan Stepanenko emphasised the sale of Ukrainian heritage as an ongoing issue and the fact that these organised international crimes are a national security issue, with money going into the hands of unknown individuals. Finally, the speakers answered questions on what could be done to prevent the issue, how can we resolve the appropriation of spiritual heritage from Russia and what identifiers we can use to determine coins originating from Ukraine to facilitate their return.




Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, England, SW1P 4QP
21-24 Millbank
Westminster, SW1P 4QP United Kingdom
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Baron Cormack, Kt DL FSA FRHistS, Dr Kyrylo Myzgin, Dr Stepan Stepanenko


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