50 Old Icons Stolen in Western Ukraine: A theft in Old Believers’ community
Bosnia and Herzegovina announced that the icon donated to Sergei Lavrov will be publicly returned to its owners
KIEV – Ukraine demands the return of the icon stolen from Luhansk. This was announced on Twitter on January 6 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmitry Kuleba.
“The Ukrainian icon has burned the hands of even experienced Russian diplomats in cynicism, they have disowned it. But Mr. Dodik continues to lie, surpassing his older friends. Ukraine demands the return of the icon, ”wrote Dmitry Kuleba.
As previously reported by the international press, Chairman of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Milorad Dodik presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a gilded icon of the 18th century.
The CPHA agency posted a photo of the image, presumably, of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and a photo of a red wax seal on the back of the icon, on which an imprint is visible: “URSR. People’s Committee for Education. Ukrnauka. Odessa Regional Commission “.
The icon was handed over on December 14, 2020 during Sergey Lavrov’s visit to BiH, on the eve of the feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, which Christians of the Eastern rite celebrate on December 19.
According to the Associated Press, on December 17, local authorities launched an investigation into how a possibly stolen 300-year-old gilded icon from Ukraine turned out to be a gift to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov..
As TASS reported on December 19, the 18th century icon from Luhansk, donated by the chairman of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, will be returned to donors to clarify its history through Interpol.
The Russian side intended to return the icon “to donors for further clarification of its history through Interpol”.
Icon will be returned
The publication “Balkansky Observer” on Facebook on January 6 posted information that Milorad Dodik explained the details of the transfer of the icon to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
As noted in the report, during the donation, Dodik stated that the three-hundred-year-old icon of St. Nicholas was “found in Lugansk,” and the media published a photo of the icon with a seal stating that this object of religious art belonged to Soviet Ukraine..
Dodik promised to return the icon to those from whom he received it. “I will call the people who gave me this icon, I will return it to them publicly, and let them explain other things,” he said, reports Balkan Observer.
Milorad Dodik said that Ukraine has never raised the issue of the disappearance of the icon. “This is a family icon. Even today, the authorities in Ukraine are not looking for this icon, “he said..
Politicians are not looking for an icon
Director of the Center for Religious Security, religious scholar Dmitry Gorevoy believes that there is not enough attention on the part of Ukraine to the problem with the return of the icon, except for the reaction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and statements by Minister Kuleba.
“We do not see that Ukrainian people’s deputies raise these issues at various international platforms, in international discussions. On the part of the ruling coalition, one does not see any interest in this topic at all, and no desire to discuss the situation, for example, in the Council of Europe, “Dmitry Gorevoy says to the Voice of America correspondent..
At the same time, he notes the reaction of Bosnian and Croatian politicians, law enforcement agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who expressed their desire to investigate the circumstances associated with the gift to Sergei Lavrov.
“You need to understand the specifics of this country, in which the state-forming ethnic groups are Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. Each of the ethnic groups has a head on the presidium, they all have equal rights. This action with the gift of the icon was a symbolic gesture of the Serbian community, but representatives of the Bosnian and Croatian communities expressed their indignation, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina launched an investigation, ”underlines Dmitry Gorevoy.
He believes that the investigation should be qualified as a criminal case in order to identify the chain of those involved in the theft of the icon from the uncontrolled territory of Ukraine..
Politics in the case of the missing icon
Political scientist Petr Oleshchuk believes that the situation with the icon is not so much a “puncture” of protocol services on the part of the Russian Foreign Ministry or Serbian politicians, as a likely “deliberate political action”.
“Russia is constantly trying to emphasize the subjectivity of these unrecognized republics. For her, the situation with the icon is another opportunity to show that it was taken out without the permission of Ukraine, thereby indicating the subjectivity of these unrecognized republics, “says Petr Oleshchuk to the correspondent of the Russian service of the Voice of America..
The reaction of the Ukrainian side, according to him, is “sufficient” and allows the icon to be returned to Ukraine on legal grounds..
“It is necessary to prepare the relevant documents and claims to international authorities, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a competent body that reacts to this situation in a legal manner,” says Petr Oleshchuk.