By Kostas Onisenko
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has returned the Ukrainian icon, which was gifted by the former President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, to Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Seeing the issue develop into a diplomatic scandal, the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry decided not to get further involved and even advised the Bosnians to start a process in order to reveal how the specific icon was found in their hands.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was on a working visit to Sarajevo on December 14-15, when the representative of the Bosnian presidency, Milorad Dodik, gave him as a gift an old icon of St. Nicholas. According to the examination of the photos, this is a 300-year-old icon that was previously located in the city of Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine, which is now occupied by separatists and the Russian army.
The Ukrainian embassy in Sarajevo sent a note to the Foreign Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina asking for explanations on how the object – which Ukrainians say is Ukraine’s cultural heritage – was found in its possession and its return to Ukraine. The Bosnian prosecutor’s office has already launched an investigation into the matter.
Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry returned the icon to the embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Moscow. According to official statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry, “on December 23, the image was given to the embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Moscow. At the same time, it was recommended to our partners to activate the available legal mechanisms to clarify this case, including the origin of the specific object”.