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The war-torn historical center of Odessa is on the UNESCO World Heritage List in Danger

The historic center of Odessa, a famous Ukrainian port city on the Black Sea coast, was added to Unesco’s World Heritage List in Danger on Wednesday for having been “at risk of destruction” since the conflict began.

During a sometimes stormy extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris, the inscription of this wartime city was approved by six votes in favour, one against (Russia) and fourteen abstentions.

“Odessa, a free city, a cosmopolitan city, a legendary port that has shaped cinema, literature and art, is thus under the increased protection of the international community,” said the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO ), the Frenchwoman Audrey Azoulay in a tweet.

Although largely spared since the Russian offensive began on February 24, 2022, Odessa, best known for its monumental Potemkin Stairs and architecture, has been hit by Russian bombardments on multiple occasions.

When submitting the files, the representative of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos), an NGO partner of Unesco, assessed that the conflict poses “a threat to the historic center of Odessa”, whose “cultural heritage is threatened with destruction”. . She also stressed the multi-ethnic, multi-confessional and multi-cultural character of Odessa.

The Russian Federation, which multiplied procedural maneuvers during the session, protested a “superficial file” and accused the Ukrainian authorities of compiling a candidacy based on “a copied and pasted Wikipedia page about Odessa”. She also claimed that Ukraine “itself destroyed monuments” in that city. It is “a diplomatic victory”, reacted First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzheppar on Wednesday.