Russian experts for VOA: Ukrainian icon probably ended up in BiH illegally

Source: N1

Russian experts speaking for Voice of America (VOA) claim there is a high probability that an ancient icon which BiH's Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on December 14, was stolen from Luhansk Ukraine during the Ukrainian conflict.

According to Yulia Nisnevich, a doctor of political science, the old religious icon came to Bosnia and Herzegovina through illegal channels, thanks to mercenaries who acted on the side of the separatists in the Ukrainian Donbas region. Nisnevich believes other possibilities are practically invisible.

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“During the war in Bosnia, many Russians fought on the Serb side,” she recalled in an interview for Voice of America. “Its also no secret that Serbs took part in the conflict [against the Ukrainian Army] in the Doneck and Luhansk region. Mercenaries are usually not that picky and will gladly bring with them even the things that are bad. While they were in Luhansk, some of them used the situation and stole the icon which then ended up on the black market (BiH). In any case, it seems there is no and there can not be any religious component here,” she said for VOA.
Director for Centre for East European Studies Andrei Okara also believes there is a slim chance for the icon of Luhansk to have ended up in legally in BiH.

There are two ways for this, Okara said:

“After 2014, due to the general confusion a wide-spread crime which always follows military operations [on the territory of East Ukraine outside the country's control], such icon could have been smuggled to the black market of cultural goods and from there to Dodik's associates. Besides, the icon could have been brought out [from Ukraine]only by militants who fought in Donbas.”

The other way is that it was imported via religious channels There are ancient religious communities in the Luhansk region, Okara recalls: “Specifically, they are priests (the so-called “Belokrinitsky Agreement”). However, judging by the seal, the icon could hardly have been in any church. It was most likely kept in a museum or museum holdings. “

Two members of Bosnia's tripartite Presidency Zeljko Komsic and Sefik Dzaferovic rejected the meeting with the Russian Minister because they believed, Lavrov's statement regarding the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, and the lack of state flag during a meeting with BiH officials from the Republika Srpska entity a day earlier.