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Tajik Parliament Approves Controversial Restitution Treaty

Tajikistan's national museum
DUSHANBE -- The Tajik parliament's lower house has approved the CIS Treaty on Restitution, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Deputy Culture Minister Mirali Dostiev told the parliament that ratification of the treaty would help bring back home all the artwork and historic valuables lost and stolen during the 1992-97 civil war in Tajikistan.

However, Abduvali Sharifov, the head of the Tajik National Museum, says that the ratification of the treaty is not enough. According to him, a list of the lost and stolen historic valuables should be created.

Sharifov says that Tajikistan's attempts to have the ancient art masterpiece known as the Treasure of Amu-Dariya repatriated from the British Museum were fruitless in the past, in part because Tajik authorities failed to prove property rights to the British Museum.

Another example, Sharifov says, is the fact that a huge number of historic documents, valuable artwork, and other ancient materials from Central Asia are still held in Russia's Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and there is no way to return them to the now independent states.