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Seized Russian Paintings Leaving Switzerland

(RFE/RL) 17 November 2005 -- Paintings from Moscow's Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts -- which had been seized in Switzerland at the request of a Swiss company -- are on their way back to Russia.

The 54 paintings by French masters had been on display at an exhibition in Switzerland. They were impounded yesterday at the request of the Noga company, which claims Russia owes it millions of dollars on contracts from the 1990s.

The action caused outrage in Russia. The Swiss government ordered the release of the paintings within hours on the grounds that under international law, natural cultural assets are protected against confiscation.

The paintings are said to have an insured value of $1 billion. Representatives of the Russian diplomatic mission are accompanying the special trucks transporting them as they travel today to the Swiss border. It was not immediately clear when they will be back in Russia.


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