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Some 160,000 exhibits are missing from museums throughout Russia
Some 160,000 exhibits are missing from museums throughout Russia, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday, citing a government cultural commission report. Medvedev said checks were conducted in 500 federal, regional and municipal museums in the first half of 2007 following a theft reported in 2006 by the country's largest museum, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. "On the whole, I would call the situation very worrisome. Five hundred museums with a total of 20 million exhibits - a quarter of the overall number of Russia's exhibits - have been checked," the official said. "What is most important is that 160,000 exhibits have been lost in the past 80 years." Medvedev said the bulk of the missing exhibits, including those missing from art sales, dated back to the 1920s-30s. He demanded "bringing the investigation to its conclusion, even in cases where it is extremely difficult to establish where a work of art disappeared to." Medvedev said the commission would consider the situation with museum buildings, most of which also perform secondary functions, or are in need of repairs. The commission will also discuss security at museums, in particular exhibit marks. The Hermitage Museum announced at the end of July 2006 that 221 items, including icons, medieval and 19th-century jewelry, silverware and enamels, had been stolen from its Russian section. The theft of items worth a total of around $5 million was discovered during a routine check. On March 15, 2007 a court in St. Petersburg sentenced a defendant to five years in prison for the theft of 77 exhibits from the museum.
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