On February 4, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina questioned Head of Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik in the case of Ukrainian icon presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in December, 2020 as Balkan Radio Liberty reported.
The prosecutor’s office confirmed that the questioning concerned the public case known as ‘Icon’; however, it refused to disclose the details of the hearing.
Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov visited the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina on December 14. Two members of the presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina refused from the meeting with Lavrov. The same day, Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb representative in Bosnia’s three-member presidency, presented a 300-year-old gilded icon to Lavrov. Later, Lavrov returned the icon.
Ukraine’s Embassy in Sarajevo asked Bosnian authorities to provide further information about the artifact after the Bosnian Serb news agency Srna published a photograph of the icon and its seal of authenticity, which suggested it could be from the city of Luhansk, where pro-Russian separatists have been battling Kyiv’s forces.
In its turn, the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina opened the criminal case due to the icon incident to hold necessary inspections.
On January 20, BiH announced that acting prosecutor in the case is collecting evidence and questioning the witness. The number of witnesses was heard, including BiH’s Ambassador in Russia. Moreover, the competent bodies received the request on the international legal aid.
On January 15, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine confirmed that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine opened the criminal case due to the illicit export of the icon. It is specified that the origin of the icon from Ukraine is beyond controversy.
However, Milorad Dodik stated that the icon would be returned to Ukraine only when Kyiv proves that it was searched earlier; while Ukraine did not provide any proves that it belongs to it.
On December 23, 2020, Russia returned the ancient icon to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides, the representatives of the Russian diplomacy recommended Bosnia and Herzegovina to ‘involve accessible legal mechanisms to establish all circumstances of this case’, including the origin of the icon.