March 13 — A lost museum in Okhtyrka, and an unholy attack on the Holy Mountains

  1. On March 9th, during the attack on Okhtyrka, a small town in the Sumy region, shelling destroyed the local history museum. Housed in a building erected in the first half of the 19th Century, the Okhtyrka City Museum was a typical small museum exhibiting local flora and fauna, family heirlooms, folk art, and documents relating to the Okhtyrka Cossack Regiment of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Ironically, the pride of the museum was a collection of materials about the Nazi resistance movement from the Second World War, a subject near and dear to the hearts of Vladimir Putin and the ideologists of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. There’s an excellent word for this kind of museum in German: “Heimatmuseum,” which embodies the sense of “home” and “homeland.” There’s no more Okhtyrka “Heimatmuseum:” no more antique farm tools, no more yellowing photographs of heroic partisans. The intricate old embroideries have been reduced to ashes.

2. During the night of March 12th, a Russian shell exploded in the vicinity of the Holy Mountains Lavra of the Holy Dormition in the city of Sviatohirsk, situated in the Donetsk Region. The Holy Mountains Lavra is one of the most spectacular Ukrainian monasteries. Constructed on the chalk mountains, the monastery towers above the Donets river and is reflected in its waters.

The monastery was established in the 15th Century, but was shut down by Catherine the Great. The empress gave its extensive landholdings to Count Potemkin. The monastery was revived in 1844, during the reign of Nicholas I.

A Russian bomb exploded at 10 pm on March 12th, fifty meters from the bridge connecting the monastery with the other bank of the river Donets.

According to official reports, the shock wave shattered all the windows and damaged several buildings. A detailed assessment of the damage is not yet available.

At the moment of the attack, 520 refugees (including 200 children) were in the monastery. The wounded were taken to a hospital in Sviatohirsk.