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Ukraine Invites Netherlands To Help Search For Stolen Art

Ukraine's police chief invited the Netherlands to help find a trove of 17th century paintings that was stolen from a Dutch museum.

Khatia Denakoidze told reporters December 10 that her office is waiting for an official request from Dutch prosecutors and that Ukraine welcomes Dutch investigators to join the police hunt.

The Westfries Museum in the northern town of Hoorn said that 24 Dutch Golden Age paintings snatched in a burglary in January 2005 had been found in a villa in a Ukrainian-controlled part of Donbas and are being offered for sale.

The museum said men from an Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists battalion fighting Russian-backed separatists showed the Dutch embassy a picture of one of the stolen works and demanded 50 million euros ($55 million) for the painting's return -- a sum that they later reduced to 5 million euros.

The nationalist group denied holding the artworks and Ukraine's chief prosecutor launched an investigation.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP