The struggle between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea’s arts and culture heritage has recently ramped up, with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month proposing that Tauric Chersonese, a Unesco World Heritage site in Crimea, be promoted as “Russia’s Mecca”.

The ancient Hellenic site on the Black Sea, on the outskirts of the modern city of Sevastopol, is where Prince Vladimir of Kiev is believed to have been baptised in the tenth century, so it is culturally significant to both Russia and Ukraine.

Putin makes a regular pilgrimage to the site. “It should become a Russian Mecca of a kind,” he told a group of officials, scholars and cultural leaders during a visit to Chersonese on 18 August. “The point is not just that Prince Vladimir was baptised here; what is more important is that afterwards the Russian state started to become centralised.”

Tauric Chersonese was listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site in 2013, when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. Since Russia’s annexation of the penninsula is not recognised by most UN member states, it is still listed as a Ukrainian site. read more