Why Russia Stole Potemkin’s Bones From Ukraine

Oct 27, 2022 · 117 comments
Buck (Flemington)
They should try to do a DNA analysis to verify the bones are actually Potemkin’s. Heard with a smile that DNA analysis of the bones in William Butler Yeats’ grave belong to some anonymous Frenchman. Yeats was originally buried in France but “his” remains were later disinterred and sent to Sligo to be buried in the cemetery at the church in Drumcliffe, Ireland. But, the bones in the grave there are not Yeats’ remains. It would be a dark humorous twist to the story if the bag of bones belonged to someone other than Potemkin.
lourad (Alabama)
One word ~~ Holodomor. Millions of Ukranians starved during the "Red Famine." They will neither forgive nor forget. Read Anne Applebaum's book of the same title.
cossak (between)
the almost total (totalitarian is also an appropriate adjective) lack of perspective or even news from the Russian 'side' is truly staggering as seen in the media of the US, UK and Germany - and the disingenuous way in which historical realities are twisted are no better than the acrobatics performed by the Russians. Articles appear on a daily basis prefaced by 'Zhelensky says' appear daily... Admirably, there are other countries who have not forbidden news from Russia, and I am able to listen (for example) to Greek correspondents reporting from there. Why has the editorial decision been made to provide such one sided coverage? The viciousness of the war? I was a war photographer and can assure all that what we see happens in any conflict...300.000 have died in Yemen in the last decade. Cut and paste history, throw in a few factoids and publish...and it will stick! History is being re-written before us and introducing a Ukrainian nationalist slant that did not exist in this form then.
poslug (cambridge)
Pillaged washing machines seem to be of more interest to Russian troops than Putin's land grab. Free washing machines to soldiers who refuses to fight might just be a realistic peace plan. Bones not so much.
Phil Glass (London)
I believe it was in the 1920s masterpiece, Battleship Potemkin, that we see the famous sequence of the pram sliding down the Odessa steps. The film is brilliantly tells the story of a mutiny on the ship which escalates into a huge anti-Czarist uprising.
Guido (Cincinnati)
It takes a village. Really? Really!
Colin Ferris (London UK)
If Ukraine is in Russia, why loot the bones to take them to ...Russia?
DanP (Southern Utah)
Well, Russia has a Potemkin army, why not his bones?
Andrew (Expat In Hong Kong)
Another example of the damage that can be caused by European displacement colonialism (to both colonists and colonised). Of course the displacement of Ukrainian Cossacks and creation of colonial “New Russia” predates the US colonial expansion into New Mexico, California and Hawaii. Something to think about…
Ed (Sacramento)
Putin has revised all of history, to support his tyrannical goals. Russians are continually indoctrinated with this false history from birth.
Nel (Norfolk, England)
Sounds a lot like a rather grubby reason for a "special military operation" and so much loss of life and property.
Sage (Santa Cruz)
Add protection of national treasures as another reason for paying attention to foreign dictators bent on terror, oppression and conquest.
Juan (Argentina)
This article is a reminder that Crimea, which had a large Turkish population, was invaded and annexed to Russia. A story that repeats itself, time and again. The reputation of every zar, and their succesors the Communists (which never left the territories in Eastern Europe, occupied in World War II, and created the Soviet Union), now an authocrat like Putin, was always cemented on territory aggrandizement. Nothing has changed, it is a horrible history, no matter how Tolstoy wanted to present it virtuous. That is why Putin must be stopped.
Andrew (Expat In Hong Kong)
And of course this all predated the seizing of Mexican territory (including California) and of Hawaii.
Martin (Germany)
The only two things I knew about Ukraine before the invasion where: 1) The charge of the light brigade 2) Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a brilliant comedian Turns out he's also an able statesman, great leader, relentless poker-in-the-eye of everybody, friend or foe, and all around good guy. You don't get that very often, there will be a movie in the future...
RosiePI (Charleston SC)
Putin steals the 200+ year old bones of the founder and builder of Kherson (among others in Ukraine) upon his army’s ongoing retreat from the city. And yet he invoked his name, Potemkin in his cause supposedly for Russia, a royalist and a nobleman whose name has been erroneously coupled with fakery, fraud and deception. There is however no erroneous aspect of this charge put to Putin and by extension Russia. Oh the irony!!
cossak (between)
@RosiePI Kherson was founded by Greek settlers in the 6th c. BC, not by Ukrainians 200 years ago. ie. 2600 years ago!
Anthony (Upstate NY)
No rest for the wicked. The beautification of a lie.
Miss Marple (New Zealand)
You can get any result you want by selective editing. Don't forget that Russia also said they want Alaska back, as well as Ukraine. Here is a link on the brief history of medieval Russia from the 9th century to the 15th centuries. https://brewminate.com/a-brief-history-of-medieval-russia-from-the-9th-to-15th-centuries/
South Of Albany (Not Indianapolis)
“Russia” didn’t exist as a nationstate in the 15th century.
NETransplant (NEast)
Putin wants to erase Ukrainian culture, history and people
Jay Dwight (Western MA)
Read Simon Sebag Montefiore's biography of Potemkin if you want some insight into how creepy this is. He was a towering genius of his age. Putin is a little man by comparison.
John Corr (Gainesville, Florida)
We are slowly getting closer to the much-ignored truth about the contemporary Ukraine situation: In Ukraine, there is a struggle between Independence and Pro-Russia factions. In February 2014, the Independence faction in Ukraine deposed a pro-Russia, democratically elected President, Victor Yanukovych, in a coup. Zelensky is their heir. Post coup, the anti-Russia coup victors began repressing the pro-Russian group, see Time magazine, https://time.com/6144109/russia-ukraine-vladimir-putin-viktor-medvedchuk/. Post coup, Vice President Joe Biden was serving as President Obama’s emissary-representative for Ukraine. He had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Obama into a hard line against Russia in Ukraine, See New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/10/us/politics/joe-biden-ukraine.html, which also states that Biden eventually helped sell Obama on sending about 100 American service members to train Ukraine’s security forces. Post coup, the CIA began a secret program training the Ukraine military, ending just before the Russian invasion, see https://www.aol.com/news/exclusive-secret-cia-training-program-090052594.html. U.S. unprecedented sharing of Russian troop and aircraft movement with Kyiv was behind the effective Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, see https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/unprecedented-sharing-of-crucial-intelligence-by-us-prevented-kyivs-capture-by-russia-41595077.html. Time for a better focus than Biden/Think?
@John Corr Your beginning, about events in 2014 is deliberately misleading.
Nel (Norfolk, England)
@John Corr By "pro-Russia" don't you actually mean either pro-USSR or pro-Russian Empire? Russia, the country as we currently understand it, doesn't seem to be military threat from any direction. The path to that led to Putin being in charge, and to supporting his stance, speaks to me more of the former than the latter. Potemkin would probably have been able to have a robust exchange of views with Putin on many topics.
South Of Albany (Not Indianapolis)
“Pro-Russia” factions in Ukraine on Russian border were manufactured by rusky intel services.
Peter Aterton (Albany)
Getting a comedian to run a country, you cannot be more serious. Whatever the great game, it is foot soldier s, common people suffering. Potemkin chinese rocket https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JVMB0rbOL7o Having seen bizzare activities on Earth, I am wondering what more is to come from lower worlds, where Earth now belongs.
Slann (CA)
Well they stole anything they could get their thieving hands on: computers, washing machines, TVs, car, trucks, clothes, etc., so maybe little vlad thinks these "magic bones" have a place in his czarist palatial estate on the Black Sea (see Navalny's YouTube video). vlad is insane, and a threat to all humanity, as long as he's in power. "russia, if you're listening", take him out. NOW.
The intertwined history of Russia and Ukraine, especially from the 19th century into the 20th, is inextricably bound up with anti-Semitism. (See "It All Fell Apart", London Review of Books, 7/21/22) It is not irrelevant that Putin is backed by his country's Christian Church and that the President of Ukraine, Zelensky, is a Jew. But lest we get smug about the subject, let's consider things here at home. Take Kanye West for instance. The problem is not so much him as it is those who enable him. That ranges from anyone buying his clothing or music to Apple and Spotfy which, so far, continue to promote him. West is West, as Trump is Trump. The power and influence of both depend on millions of others allowing them to be influentially hateful. Even the sources referenced in today's CNN article were essentially major enablers, inasmuch as they knew of West's beliefs but did not immediately cut ties and go public. "Kanye West has a disturbing history of admiring Hitler...." www.cnn.com/2022/10/27/entertainment/kanye-west-hitler-album/index.html It's easy to talk the talk, but there's no free lunch! Anyone buying an Apple product at the moment, or anything produced by any outfit connected to West is, at best, a hypocritical enabler. Walk the walk, folks! And why does the media still lead with pretty pictures of West? Maybe, instead, a picture of him with a Hitler mask would be more appropriate.
None (US)
Vladimir Lenin’s body has been on full display in a glass box in his mausoleum in Moscow Red Square since 1924. Maybe they can tuck the bag of bones in there someplace.
Blackmamba (IL)
Yes but who is in Lenin's and Stalin's Tomb? Who is in Peter the Great's Tomb? And who will be in Putin's Tomb in St. Petersburg?
Mark (OC CA)
Wouldn't it just be awesome if Ukraine had replaced them with chimpanzee bones....
Joe B. (Center City)
Putin is a war criminal. He is also trump’s master.
MH (Rhinebeck NY)
So, the Nazis invade and cart off artifacts then are driven out, now the Russians invade and cart off artifacts and are looking increasingly unlikely to remain.
Ron (Reading, UK)
This seems to me like a stupid stunt. The bones of Potemkin won’t make up for the shortcomings of Russia’s forces. And the fact that they’re in Putin’s hands won’t demoralise the Ukrainians, who are not fighting for plunder, or some silly symbols. I find it hard to believe that many Russians will care, either: those who might be conscripted and their loved ones will continue to worry about how they stay out of this stupid war. This is a great big stupid nothingburger on the part of Putin’s forces.
Daniel J MDJD (Sedona AZ)
Why? It’s simple. Putin is delusional. He thinks of himself as a czar, a second Peter the Great, rather the thug/crook dictator of a country with a second rate economy and a third rate conventional military…Like I wrote-delusional.
Sarah (USA)
Just when I think the Russians have hit the bottom with depravity
View from Europe (Stockholm)
Is it just me, or doesn't this constant re-opening of Potemkin's tomb to check if he is still there strike you as a little bit OCD?
Don (Blue State Nirvana)
@View from Europe “…constant reopening…” Makes me question whether anyone in this day and age would even believe the bones were actually Potemkin’s.
Calico (VA)
@Don If he has any living descendants it would be possible to do a DNA test. That’s how English King Richard III’s bones were determined to be his.
Julie (Denver)
Putin couldnt take Kherson or Odesa back to russia so he kidnapped poor dead Potemkin and stole him away back to russia. Victory!!
With Putin, Russia has become a Potemkin village.
S.B. (S.F.)
Ukraine will not miss Potemkin’s bones, of that we can be sure. Good riddance.
P!ink Plonk (The Hub of the Universe)
Reminds me of Muff Potter and Injun Joe in Tom Sawyer. Sam Clemens is probably rolling in his grave doubled up with laughter at Putin trying to memorialize his fiction about graverobbers. Next Putin will live out the phrase "suppose you were an idiot" etc
Jim K (Upstate NY)
Expanding NATO into the former Warsaw Pact countries alarmed the Russian people. Russia lost 20 million souls in WW2. Putin exploited the people's fear of invasion from the West. This conflict could have been avoided.
PureRed (Mississippi Born and Bred)
@Jim K Nonsense! Talk of NATO ‘expanding’ seems like they invaded a country and ‘took over’! If this were true don’t you think Russians would be gladly lining up to join the military to fight an invading army? Instead they are running away because this see this for what it is - a needless and disastrous Putin forced coup of an independent country. Russia must be stopped for the good of the entire region.
Doug (Melbourne, Australia)
I can't accept that the Russian people were alarmed. The annexation of Crimea was just Putin dipping his toe in the water to see if he could get away with such a thing. He has bided his time since but is now striving to form a new Russia which will be his legacy while America is preoccupied with China.
MEC (Hawaii)
@Jim K Putin's justifications have ranged from historical mythology to fear of NATO, de-nazifying, de-satanizing, biological labs, dirty bombs, etc, but these have had little purchase outside Russia. The current emphasis, which is shared by Xi and so more useful, is that the Western elites are trying to keep others down by imposing their own order on the world. Very clearly, Russia had no fear of NATO aggression as it did not position its forces defensively to counter NATO but rather offensively to conquer Ukraine. Sadly, Putin had no intention to negotiate so the war was unavoidable.
Mark (Golden State)
last guy to do this started WWII. he had delusions of grandeur also.
Casual Observer (Los Angeles)
Russians have a bizarre compulsion to erase Ukrainian identity from the people and lands. They have never respected the people nor the culture in anyway and yet forcing them to become Russian has become obsessive. Why do they care?
Mark (OC CA)
@Casual Observer Russia, on the national scale, has had an awesome inferiority complex since forever. They know they can't measure up, but the want to in the worst way, and so it comes out in the worst way. If they didn't have nukes, they'd be Turkmenistan writ large.
bill (southwest)
@Mark What would the US be without nukes? It's army and other ground forces are no better than the Russian army. Look at what happened in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The only reason it lasted in any of these conflicts is due to air power. Without air power it would have been out of these conflicts within a year. If you read any history, you'll find that Curtis LeMay wanted to use nukes on North Vietnam.
Don (Blue State Nirvana)
@Casual Observer It’s actually much simpler than that. For centuries it was always about having direct access to an ice-free port. That’s why, once the Soviets had the chance, Sevastopol (and thus Crimea) became such an important city. Nowadays St. Petersburg and Vladivostok are kept ice-free with ice breakers and thermal plants. But I’m sure that it’s nice not having to rely on that.
lance (texas)
Whats happening now is beyond any -ism. Its not even being dressed up as such. It took roughly 100 years for a peasant revolution to mutate into the very thing it tried to replace. If the super rich are allowed to rule the Earth then life for the rest of humanity will be like something out of "Salo: 120 Days of Sodom".
Susan McHale (Greenwich CT)
DNA tests were done? No, who has Potemkin DNA? I think the real bones are forever gone in Devil's Gorge. Ha ha.
Uncle Eddie (Tennessee)
Grave robbing, raping, pillaging, murder, and various other war crimes over the past 8 months and the powers that be still wait to lodge war crimes charges against Russia's leadership. It's like there's a bank robbing spree and the FBI says, let's wait to see if they are finished before we make an arrest. I predict that Iran will soon miraculously own nuclear weapons thanks to supplying Russia with conventional arms and kamikaze drones. Russia does not care about any treaty they have signed. The world needs to shut Putin down now, while there's still a world (and before the GOP takes control of Congress and implements their appeasement plan. Appeasement worked so well for Europe 90 years ago.)
Aberdeen (Houston TX)
Mr. Potemkin's name will forever be associated with "Potemkin village." Based or not on real events, the fact that the expression took root so deeply and quickly points to its accuracy.
MEC (Hawaii)
@Aberdeen It does not point to historical accuracy for which there is no evidence but rather to the very human practice of erecting a false facade in big ways and small. Who among us has never created a Potemkin living room by shoving all our junk temporarily to the bedroom?
LibertyLover (California)
Russia has stolen numerous items from Museums, Ukrainian citizens, everything from jewelry to washing machines. They stole some of the ancient Scythian gold and other artifacts and taken them to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. During this war, besides stealing ancient artifacts they have stolen harvesters, and millions of tons of grain, even huge steel coils produced in Mariupol. They are a nation of criminals committing wars crimes and thieves who will steal whatever they can. I have never seen such lack of civility and common decency.
Ab2022 (NJ)
Do we see similarities between Putin and 45 of what they have done or tried to do. Should we be surprised?
DieselEstate (Aberdeenshire)
I have been a student of Russian history from the final Romanovs in the late nineteenth century, then the Soviet period, for over forty years. Following the slowest invasion columns the modern world has yet to see, followed by the failure to blitzkrieg Kyiv - let alone Ukraine, maybe Bloodymir Putin has had an interesting idea about military command. The theft of Potemkin's bones may be for attempts at DNA extraction and, eventually,(!) a Potemkin clone. The Russian Federation army still seems to be using the same Stalinist era dearth of training and discipline implementation. We also seem to be witnessing the deep extent of Putin's kleptocratic example. Very little money to adequately equip and maintain the army. Maybe Putin thinks Potemkin could solve all this. Poor Tukhachevsky must be turning in his grave.
Hugo Rojas (Miami)
Putin looks to be exchanging old bones for many new Russian ones. Sad that young Russian soldiers are dying needlessly as this war continues.
Chandra Varanasi (Broomfield)
It is about time Putin and his crowd started living in the present, and use all the untapped potential of the Russians to make the country a scientific and technological powerhouse instead of "holding the bag."
Anush Apetyan (Look me up)
The Russians conquered it from whom? Was there a country named Ukraine? Who was ruling those lands before the Russians conquered it? If you are going to teach us history, why not paint a complete picture.
George (Kansas City)
Is that Potemkin, Potemkin? Same guy one now refers to about Kevin Costner/Andy Garcia Untouchables' revival of the stair steps shoot out of the Eisenstein's flick: Battleship that guy's name? Dat guy?
Miss Marple (New Zealand)
The Russian government is as mad as a meat axe with its assertions. Why stop there - at selective editing to justify their greed. Why not go back to 9th or 15th centuries. It's like saying I sold you a house, but I still own it. In todays modern civilised world we have recognised legal borders and boundaries to stay inside. And there is such a thing as international law.
Matthew (Herndon VA)
Oh how short sighted Americans are. It was really John Paul Jones, “the Father of the American Navy” who fought for Katherine the Great as Kontradmiral Pavel Ivanovich Jones who defeated the Ottomans. Russians, as usual, did not have the wherewithal. After which, as usual, Russians slandered him.
Dick Kaiser (Tucson)
I'm reminded of cultural artifacts of indigenous peoples held in U.S museums, an untold amount which can be considered loot. See Last Week Tonight's episode, titled "Museums". Generally, the most prestigious history museums are the worst actors, based on John Oliver's report.
Sean Thornton (Ames, Iowa)
They took them now because they know they won’t return for a long time.
Just Curious (Oregon)
One of my siblings visited Russia a couple times during the 1980s, and his overall impression was of a third world country, and he was amazed that he had spent most of his life fearing this supposed “super power”. Whatever Russia might lack in actual capability, they try to compensate for in ruthlessness I guess.
lester ostroy (Redondo Beach, CA)
Putin's war was entirely unnecessary. Their bases at Sevastopol in Crimea were within the Ukraine state but operated by Russia without interference from Ukraine. In 2014 Putin ordered his "little green men" to take over the Crimea so that he wouldn't have to say his fleet was based in Ukraine, abrogating the treaty Russia signed with Ukraine 22 years before. He then decided to take over the entire country of Ukraine. He forgot however that his government has been skimming off the military budget for decades, getting Putin and his friends very rich, but leaving the military with few modern weapons and little training. Ukraine repelled the initial assault on its capital and once it obtained modern weapons and ammo from the US has been able to roll the bilked Russian army back. Putin's orders have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, Ukraine soldiers and civilians, a massive crime against humanity.
Andrés García (Mexico)
"The 18th-century military commander and lover of Catherine the Great helped conquer Ukraine" This line is written to make the reader think Potemkin was a Russist imperialist conquering and subjugating peaceful indigenous Ukrainians even though the area he conquered was a sparsely populate steppe that had never before been under Ukrainian (Or any sort of Slavic) control and was part of the area of influence of the Crimean Khanate, a Muslim Turkic state.
Chris (DC)
Not even close to correct. The Zaporizhzhian Cossacks controlled the area for centuries before the late 18th century
Rob Patrick (Michigan)
@Andrés García, yes, just like Crimea. Time to return both places to multicultural Ukraine as nearly the whole of the Crimean population have voted.
Andrés García (Mexico)
@Chris You're wrong. The Zaporizhzhian Cossacks controlled an area of central Ukraine not the area which I or the article are referring to
Mary (Arizona)
Potemkin always recalls for me the Russian silent film of years ago (1925) that told the story of the crew of the battleship Potemkin and a mutiny aboard the ship while it was in the harbor at Odessa. The crew revolted when they were fed meat crawling with maggots and other unfit food.
‘The Battleship Potemkin’ and the famous scene of the Potemkin steps leading down to the harbor, as the citizens pour down the steps to evade the advancing Cossacks. The baby carriage bouncing down the steps is memorable-an early masterpiece of filmmaking and editing by Sergei Eisenstein.
PaulN (Columbus, Ohio, US of A)
What about the baby stroller going down on those steps, a scene repeated in the Untouchables?
Farblondjet (Virginia)
@Johnl Woody Allen memorably borrowed that scene for his movie Bananas.
Socrates (Downtown Verona, NJ)
Vladimir has reduced the entire country of Russia to a “Potemkin village”, with a cheap, propagandized external façade of strength and glory, beneath which the country is rotten to the core....with all its best and brightest minds fleeing the authoritarian country in droves as its despotic czar clings to a mythical past and refuses to evolve. Like the hollowed out 'Potemkin Village' Soviet Union that collapsed in 1991, Putin is repeating the exercise as he hollows out Russia of its human resources and its future. Russians are really good at national collapse.
Blackmamba (IL)
@Socrates Putin is no Georgi Zhukov nor Joe Stalin. Putin is no Mongol Prince nor Mongol General laying waste to Russia. Putin is no Peter nor Catherine the Great or Ivan the Terrible.
Tom J (Berwyn, IL)
If there's magic in those bones as Putin believes, and he's misinterpreting Potemkin, then it stands to reason that it will be dark magic, and Putin is doomed.
Rosalie Lieberman (Chicago, IL)
Weird. Putin isn't showing any national courage, but national insanity. Leave the dead where they belong, with rare exception.
Asher Fried (Croton-on-Hudson NY)
…..because Putin’s autocratic kleptocracy is an empty facade of legitimacy. Behind the false front of Czarist grandeur & opulence lies a deep hole where Putin buries his riches and his opponents…. and If Russian history has any relevance…hopefully Putin himself.
Pears (Westchester, NY)
Make no bones about it, Putin will get something out of this awful war.
Maya (LA)
@Pears he sure will
Mgte D'Acquigny (Mousechusetts)
Maybe the Kleptocrat-in-Chief can keep the bones, declare victory, and bring his troops home?
Steve (Moraga ca)
At least Putin and his crew are making sure that one Russian hero's bones can come home in a black body bag, while hundreds of other duped "heroes'" remains, to the shame of the Russian military, have been left behind in Ukraine.
Slann (CA)
@Steve Don't forget the mobile crematoriums they took with them. I doubt they returned any ashes.
AG (Tallahassee)
Should leave the bones where they are. Potemkin always hated retreating.
Kem Phillips (Vermont)
@AG Excellent! The comments here are terrifically sarcastic.
Tice (Connecticut)
The robbers entered Ukraine, attempting to steal the country. Now they are robbing graves.
Carter O'Brien (Chicago)
Putin is seriously unhinged. But people forget Russia allied with Nazi Germany before Hitler stabbed them in the back, they need to be bounced from the UN security council at the *very* least, no matter how this all ends.
DieselEstate (Aberdeenshire)
Carter O'Brien, While you are absolutely right about the Molotov - Ribbentrop Pact and, how that turned out for Stalin & the Soviets Union, seriously: What good would it do for the world for Russia to be excluded from the United Nations? Please remember that there are twenty one smaller autonomous republics that are more or less forced into the Russian Federation. What of them? The world under the auspices of the United Nations, needs to keep people talking.
PaulN (Columbus, Ohio, US of A)
It was not Russia but the USSR that had a pact with Germany. Stalin himself wasn’t even Russian just as many other VIPs in the USSR.
51 Years is Enough (Port Washington)
Ghoulish, but I suppose it's almost Halloween. Otherwise interesting in that the action may say something about Putin's confidence in his troops being able to hold Kherson against the impending Ukrainian assault.
Old Ben (Chester County PA)
Yes, Potemkin did lead the conquest of Ukraine in the era of George Washington, with a focus on Crimea. So what? My history classes grouped the times of Washington and Catherine the Great in Modern History, in the period of colonial conquests. American colonists had just defeated Britain. Crimea was settled in part by Ancient Greeks, and was part of the Roman Empire. Does that make it Italian? Later Novogrod, Kiev and Minsk were founded as part of the Varangian Empire. Does that make today's cities Viking? Putin is certainly full of, ah, peculiar ideas, but he is plainly not full of history. The colonial era has been in steep decline since 1945, and deservedly so.
A.X. (Central NJ)
@Old Ben - Potemkin did not lead the conquest of Ukraine for the simple reason that there was no Ukraine to conquer at the time. The sparsely populated land he conquered and claimed for Russia was then a remote outpost of the Ottoman Empire. None of that of course justifies Russia's barbaric invasion of Ukraine, to which those lands were ceded more than 100 years ago.
PD Gupta (US)
@Old Ben If your logic is correct and widely acceptable, this entire country USA and or CANADA still belong(s) to the native Americans (American Indians, etc.) and or native Canadians (Intuit, etc.,), and therefore, all others must go back to places where they originally belonged and make a peace treaty with rest of the world for good! Poor Putin is perhaps trying to do the same land grab in Ukraine that white Europeans did on this entire western hemisphere hundreds of years ago! Putin may or may not succeed in his land grab endeavor, but Europeans indeed succeeded many hundred years ago.
Old Ben (Chester County PA)
PD Gupta As someone whose name suggests East Indian ancestry, I am surprised that my meaning was unclear to you. I am not trying to deny history anymore than I would deny the Raj and the later decolonialization of India. I do assert that the conquest of Ukraine does not make it part of Greece or Rome or the Ottomans or Russia. I assert that wherever people live they are entitled to self-determination and that borders should not be determined by conquest. Did the 20th Century not already prove that?
JK61 (MD)
I know that I'm stating the obvious, but despair about everything that Ukraine has suffered prompts me to do so: Putin is a deeply damaged person, as are the tens of millions who support him. Ditto for every would-be autocrat everywhere, and their supporters. I fear for Ukrainians as the weather grows colder; I fear for the US if the midterms shove us closer toward autocracy.
Danny Swarzman (South San Francisco)
The name Potemkin reminds me of a silent movie, Battleship Potemkin. It's the story of an uprising starting with a revolt by sailors as the ship was docking at Odesa in 1905–a precursor to the Russian Revolution. The Russian army massacred Ukrainians by the hundreds. The movie is semi-historical. But the main fact is true. Russia's treatment of Ukraine was brutal then.
DieselEstate (Aberdeenshire)
Danny Swarzman, In Russia in 1905 there was a full revolution. It took the Imperial authorities about a year to quell. In history, it is known as the first Russian revolution. Look it up. It was a fascinating period and yes, it did lay the groundwork for 1917. Sadly, Russia has treated Ukraine very badly. Now, some Russians are even trying to rewrite the Holodomor.
Larry Leker (Los Angeles)
With sociopaths everywhere, watch what they do, not what they say. If Russia weren't on a revanchist paranoid pseudo religious crusade to soothe their wounded national pride why would they be 'desatanizing' their neighbors and stealing the bones of dead heroes of the fatherland? Creepy but all too telling.
Tracy Concha (savannah georgia)
@Larry Leker Have you seen the Russian Armed Forces cathedral? The floor is made from metal from melted nazi tanks. It's a truly creepy place.
LibertyLover (California)
Russian soldiers sent home 58 tons of Looted items from Ukraine. Imagine any western armed forces doing such a thing. https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2022/05/26/russian-soldiers-send-home-58-tons-of-looted-items-from-ukraine-investigation-a77811
Concernicus (Hopeless, America)
@LibertyLover It is not at all hard to imagine Western armed forces looting---it is documented fact. "How American soldiers looted $50m of Nazi gold: Coins hidden in a post office by Himmler were taken by troops during last days of the War" https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3114663/Americans-looted-25m-Nazi-gold-Coins-hidden-post-office-Himmler-taken-troops-days-War.html "Though stories of art looting during World War II invariably focus on Nazi plunder, German and American officials say thousands of works, among them masterpieces by Dürer, Cranach and Hals, crossed the Atlantic in footlockers and mail parcels in the 1940s. Very few have trickled back." https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/06/arts/design/returning-the-spoils-of-world-war-ii-taken-by-our-side.html That's the thing about war...it brings out the very worst in human beings.
BlueNorth (MN)
@LibertyLover Don’t have to imagine. Benin bronzes.
Tice (Connecticut)
@Concernicus - Do you equate individuals breaking the law to official theft ordered by the government? Will Russia allow this to be referred to as looting, or will that be banned by an amendment to the law banning referring to the Ukraine invasion as a war? Will the Russian state-controlled press publish articles about the return of Ukraine's heritage and property?
bob (concord, ma)
For all the canniness of the Ukrainians, I'm surprised they did not anticipate the Russians performing this grave looting. If they had anticipated this, I would guess they would have taken the remains themselves (for safekeeping) and put in their place an equivalent to "Kilroy was here".
back-button (Vermont)
@bob I inferred from the article that Potemkin's remains are not held in as high regards by the Ukrainians as the Russians hold them.
bob (concord, ma)
@back-button True enough. The point is to create a "neener-neener" moment. The Ukrainians seems very adept at tweaking the Russians.
Lars Krog (Stockholm)
@bob Kherson fell in the first days of the war. There was no time to think about old bones. Now that the Ukrainians really have a bone to pick with the Russians. They probably wish they had.
Gary V. (Oakland, CA)
"Russian forces have destroyed and systematically looted Ukrainian treasures, including Ukrainian Orthodox churches, national monuments and cultural heritage sites. They sent specialists to abscond with gold antiquities from the Scythian culture dating back 2,300 years." Of course they will plunder. They are just following the leadership of the fascist leader, Putin. The man who made Russia into a kleptocracy and is rumored to have plundered state assets worth $200 Billion or more and surrounded himself with oligarchs who have also followed his lead. There are also reports on why the military has been under performing in both materiel and personnel. The leadership again followed Putin's lead and diverted training and equipment maintenance funds to their bank accounts. Pitiful.
Maureen O'Brien (Long Island, NY)
@Gary V. Plunder and loot was one of the reasons they invaded. Despicable bunch.
Dr. Rick Sjoquist (Seoul, ROK)
No difference between communism and fascism other than its ideological symbolism. Both plunder for their own narrow and twisted purposes what is good and uplifting in society. Putin just happens to embody both dystopias.
See also