Moscow, Feb 25 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The US Friday returned to Russia 21 historical documents that were recovered by authorities after being smuggled from Russia to America.
The documents, which were stolen from Russian national archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg between 1994 and 2002, include two decrees signed by Catherine the Great and a decree and an award signed by the last tsar, Nicholas II.
After handing over the documents to Russian authorities at a ceremony in Moscow, US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle told Russian and US officials that the return of the documents marked the end of a detective story on two continents.
“Today we celebrate a success in the battle against the theft and smuggling of cultural and historical artefacts, and a success in our effort to build a closer and more productive relationship between Russia and the United States,” the ambassador said.
Russian Deputy Culture Minister Andrei Gagarin said it was right that the priceless documents should return home. He said the event was a result of improved ties between Russia and the US fostered by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama.
Russian officials say 2,500 documents were stolen by Ze’ev Feinman, a Russian antiquarian who now has Israeli citizenship.