AUSTIN, Texas — Amid the clear and present danger of Russia's military destroying Ukraine's architectural marvels, museums and other cultural sites, Ukraine plans to digitize "every single piece of art or history" it can, announced Michael Chobanian, President of the Blockchain Association of Ukraine, at Consensus 2022 on Saturday.
"Today we are announcing a new project [aimed at] how we can save the DNA of the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian history," Chobanian said. "Right now, they are bombing museums, churches, and cultural sites. So before they are destroyed...we're going to digitize every single piece of art or history that we have in museums. We're going to NFT it and put it on the blockchain," Chobanian said.
Ukraine has already leveraged crypto and blockchain to finance its defense against Russia's invasion, raising over $135 million in crypto from donors around the world by mid-May, analytics firm Crystal Blockchain told CoinDesk.
Chobanian made the NFT plan announcement alongside Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine's deputy minister in the Ministry of Digital Transformation and the de facto crypto spokesperson for the government, on a panel entitled "Crypto at War: Behind Ukraine's Historic Crypto Fundraiser."
However, the project is not a government initiative, but rather an effort by Ukraine's blockchain community.
NEAR Protocol's co-founder, Illia Polosukhin, who was also on stage, revealed later that NEAR will be the first blockchain partner of the project.
"It is extremely important to bring all the Ukrainian heritage on-chain and offer it to the world and preserve it forever," Polosukhin said.
Ukraine's historic NFT-ization of its artifacts will also reveal "what is being held" where, in order to prevent corrupt government officials from stealing items during unpredictable times like these, Chobanian added.
Digitizing and placing an artifact as an NFT on a blockchain will be proof that an artifact existed. The project will aim to provide a digital window into Ukraine's cultural DNA because anyone from anywhere will be able to view the items as NFTs all in one place.
"It's a national project, not a private project; it's what we do as the Blockchain Association of Ukraine and this way no one can delete it," said Chobanian, who is also the person managing donations for the Crypto Fund of Ukraine and the founder of Ukraine's Kuna exchange.
The first government NFT project was Ukraine's MetaHistory NFT Museum, which was created to preserve facts about the war intended to defy "Putin's disinformation campaign." NFT's bought on that platform will be used to fund the latest NFT preservation project.
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