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Russia: Parliament Declares Seized Art State Property

Moscow, 5 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - The upper house of the Russian parliament today unanimously approved a law proclaiming as state property art works seized by the Soviet Red Army in Germany during World War II.

The lower house or State Duma passed the measure last month.

If signed by President Boris Yeltsin, the law would bar the return of most art treasures seized from Nazi Germany.

A Kremlin spokesman said he could not predict Yeltsin's position on the issue. The government warned yesterday that the law contravenes international law.

The Russian leader maintains warm relations with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. If Yeltsin vetoes the law, a two-thirds majority in the Duma would be needed to push the measure through again.

The German government has repeatedly pressed Moscow to hand back the huge booty of 200,000 works of art pillaged by the Red Army when it swept into Germany towards the end of the war.