The Chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency and its Serb member, Milorad Dodik, said on Tuesday that media in Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity made up “lies” about the Orthodox icon which he gave to Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister in December and that Ukraine never raised the issue regarding the disappearance of the artefact.
After Dodik gave Russia’s Sergey Lavrov the 300-year-old gilded icon in December, the Ukrainian Embassy in Sarajevo sent a note to the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for detailed information on the origin of what it suspects is a piece of Ukrainian cultural heritage. Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture said the icon could have been illegally taken from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Luhansk by mercenaries.
Bosnia’s Prosecutor’s Office has meanwhile launched an investigation into the matter.
By the end of the month, the icon was returned to Bosnia via the Bosnian ambassador in Moscow, per Russia’s request.
In his first address to media after his 16-day battle with COVID-19, Dodik said the entire narrative regarding the artefact is fake.
“You invented it from FBiH and created a false story. Ukraine has never raised the issue of the disappearance of that icon. It is a family icon. Even today, the government bodies have not asked for that icon,” he told reporters.
He said the media was given an “editorial task” to invent the story.
“The icon is here, Mr. Lavrov thought it should be returned. I will now call the people who gave me that icon and return it publicly. There is nothing incriminating here, but you are making up lies to cover up the moves of Komsic and Dzaferovic,” he said, referring to the other two members of the Presidency.