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Russia's Famed Hermitage Museum Seeks To Help Restore Palmyra

The director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky
The director of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky

The head of Russia's renowned Hermitage art museum has submitted a proposal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to get involved in the restoration of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

Mikhail Piotrovsky told state news agency TASS that the plan was worked out with the Russian Academy of Sciences. He said Russian efforts could be part of an international restoration plan that he discussed with the director of UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural organization.

"I think that's a nice opportunity to do something that military conflicts don't always achieve -- namely, to offer everyone to work together," the St. Petersburg musuem director said. "This will be a fair trial test for international solidarity."

Syrian troops with the support of Russian air strikes regained control of Palmyra from the Islamic State (IS) militant group last month.

IS blew up some of the archaeological site's most prominent monuments and executed a well-known archaeological expert who defended the site on the ruins after it seized control of the city last year.

Piotrovsky said he would not try to "re-create" the monuments that were destroyed, but rather would "revive" or "rehabilitate" them using any fragments of the original stones that remain at the site.

"If we can return them to their original places, then they should be returned, and nothing more than that will be done," he said.

"Palmyra is to become a monument that people can adore, a monument to the tragic page that has been entered in its history, and a monument to the museum experts who died there," he said.

With reporting by AP and TASS
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