Prosecutors to question BiH Presidency members regarding icon Dodik gave Lavrov

NEWS 06.01.2021 17:16
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Bosnia’s Prosecutor’s Office told N1 on Wednesday that all three members of the tripartite Presidency, Bosnia’s ambassador in Moscow, and “anyone involved” in the visit of Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov in December will be questioned regarding the Orthodox icon which Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik gave him.

After the Chairman and Serb member of the tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, gave Russia’s Sergey Lavrov the 300-year-old gilded icon in December, the Ukrainian Embassy in Sarajevo sent a note to the BiH Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking for detailed information on the origin of what it suspects is a piece of Ukrainian cultural heritage. Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture said the icon could have been illegally taken from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Luhansk by mercenaries.

Bosnia’s Prosecutor’s Office has meanwhile launched an investigation into the matter and the Ukrainian Embassy asked Bosnia to return the icon to Ukraine.

By the end of December, the icon was returned to Bosnia via the Bosnian ambassador in Moscow, per Russia’s request.

“As part of this case, activities are being carried out, as well as requests and collection of documentation through international legal assistance, and the Ambassador of BiH in Moscow will be questioned as part of the investigation,” the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH stated for N1.

“All persons who participated in the organization of this visit, as well as all three members of the Presidency of BiH, will also be questioned, due to possible omissions and events that damaged the reputation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” it said.

The Ukrainian Embassy earlier said that the lack of an answer from Bosnia to how the artefact ended up on Bosnian territory indicates that it was brought to the country illegally.

In his first address to the media after his 16-day battle with COVID-19 on Tuesday, Dodik said the entire narrative regarding the artefact was made up and that the media in Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Federation (FBiH) was tasked with creating a “false story.”

“Ukraine has never raised the issue of the disappearance of that icon. It is a family icon. Even today, the government bodies have not asked for that icon,” he told reporters.

However, according to Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, this is not true.

“The Ukrainian icon even burned the hands of experienced cynical Russian diplomats who disowned it. But Mr Dodik continues to lie, surpassing his older friends. Ukraine continues to demand the return of the icon,” Kuleba tweeted on Wednesday.