Stolen Dutch paintings found in eastern Ukraine, - Interior Ministry
The collection to be shipped back to the Netherlands
Ukraine's police found 24 Dutch paintings, stolen in 2005 from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands. They are currently kept in eastern Ukraine, in an area controlled by Russia-backed militants.
"The collection of paintings stolen 10 years ago from a Dutch museum, has been found near Donetsk on the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. The collection is kept in a private mansion, owned by a member of ousted Ukrainian president Yanukoych's inner circle", Ukrainian writer Borys Humenyk posted at Facebook. According to Humenyuk, negotiations and all possible measures are underway to secure transportation of the paintings to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government and further to the Netherlands.
Arthur Brand, Dutch art historian of the Westfries Museum, earlier said that the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) battalion had stolen the works and tried to sell them for 50 million euros. The OUN battalion denied the charges. In their statement, the battalion also claimed that Humenyuk never was the commander of the OUN volunteer battalion, as he was mistakenly titled on the Internet. The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said Humenyuk never even served with the Armed Forces.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov confirmed that Ukraine is in close contact with the Netherlands on the issue of the stolen paintings. "Some paintings identified as those from the stolen Dutch collection were found in a private house in Donetsk region of east Ukraine, and there were attempts to sell them on the black market. We are working on the issue", he said.
According to Chief of the National Police of Ukraine Khatia Dekanoidze, Kyiv expects an official request from the Dutch prosecution agencies on looking into the circumstances in which a collection of paintings disappeared from a Dutch museum. "We will welcome a visit of investigators from the Netherlands to address the matter", Dekanoidze said.
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