Potemkin: Russia removes bones of 18th-century commander revered by Putin from occupied Ukrainian city



CNN

Pro-Russian officials say they have removed the remains of legendary 18th-century Russian emperor Grigory Potemkin from the Ukrainian city of Kherson.

Potemkin’s remains were taken from the Cathedral of St. Catherine and went over the Dnipro River and into Russian territory, along with the image of the military leader, pro-Russian proxy director Vladimir Saldo told Crimean TV.

“We have removed the bones of His Highness Prince Potemkin from the Church of St. Catherine and the monument itself to the left. [east] of the bank,” Saldo said, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Potemkin played an important role in the capture of the Crimea from the Turks in 1783, and his memory is among those in Russia who intend to restore access to the country’s former empire. Putin largely relied on his legacy to justify the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Monuments to captain Fyodor Ushakov and captains Alexander Suvorov and Vasily Margelov were also removed from the church and moved to an undisclosed location, Saldo said. The relics will be returned when the city is safe, he added.

Prince Grigory Potemkin was an 18th century Russian president, military general, favorite and adviser to Empress Catherine the Great. His name has come up a few times in the Kremlin since Russia invaded Ukraine. Recently, in his speech at a ceremony to hold the new territories, Putin mentioned Potemkin as one of the founders of the new cities in the Eastern part of Ukraine referring to the region as Novorossiya which stands for “New Russia.”

Potemkin is believed to be behind the plan to seize Crimea which was first annexed by Russia in 1783 as a result of a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire. He was then awarded the rank of field marshal and founded the city of Sevastopol in the Crimea, making it the main Russian naval base on the Black Sea. Potemkin’s newly built Black Sea fleet played an important role in Russia’s success in the second Turkish war of 1768-1774.

In Russia, Potemkin’s name is common in “Potemkin villages,” a term used to describe hidden facades designed specifically to hide the unpleasant truth and create the appearance of a social lie. The phrase goes back to the disputed historical legend that he prepared unusual decorations, such as putting up cardboard villages with painted ships and cannons, to impress Catherine the Great and her foreign allies on a trip to the Crimea following its installation.

The move to remove his remains came as Ukrainian forces stormed the city of Kherson, following a series of successful attacks in the surrounding area.

The situation in the city is “bad” and Russia has stationed “a large number of Russian troops” there, a city official told Ukrainian TV on Friday.

Halyna Luhova, a member of the Kherson city council said: “People in the occupied areas that I am in contact with say that there are more Russian soldiers on the streets than the local population.”

The UK Defense Minister said in a daily intelligence update on Friday that it was “possible” that “recruited militia” could be sent to reinforce Russian forces in the regional capital and on the west bank.

For the past two weeks, Kherson’s Kremlin-backed regime has been spreading alarming messages about Ukraine’s upcoming attempt to take over the city, and thousands of residents have crossed the Dnipro River, deep into Russian-held territory. Ukraine has accused Russia of creating “hysteria” to force residents to leave.

Moscow has already begun to reduce its area of ​​operations in Kherson. Ukrainian officials say the Russians are moving wounded people, administrative services and financial institutions out of the city, while sending more troops to reinforce their positions.

Museums and other cultural organizations in Ukraine have been fighting to save the country’s artefacts and relics since Russia invaded in February.

In May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces had destroyed hundreds of culturally important sites.

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