Sergey Lavrov and the icon of discord
Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia, at Raisina Dialogue 2020
Bosnia and Herzegovina intends to find out how an ancient Ukrainian icon from Donbass became a gift for Minister Sergei Lavrov
KIEV – The three-hundred-year-old Orthodox icon presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bosnia and Herzegovina could have been stolen in the territory of Donbass not controlled by Ukraine. This was reported by the international press over the past week..
In the notes of the publications it is noted that one of the members of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the head of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik presented the icon to Sergei Lavrov on December 14, when he visited the country..
The gift to the Russian minister sparked a diplomatic investigation in Bosnia, the Associated Press reported. – On Thursday 17 December, Bosnian authorities launched an investigation into how a possibly stolen 300-year-old gilded icon from Ukraine became a gift to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The Ukrainian side, according to the Internet edition «European truth», with a link to the portal Klix.ba, also called for an answer. The Embassy of Ukraine in Bosnia and Herzegovina sent a note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country with a request to provide information on why the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov was presented with a three-hundred-year-old Ukrainian icon from Luhansk.
According to the publication, the Ukrainian embassy has requested information on the origin of the icon, which, it is said, was found in Luhansk and is about three hundred years old..
Icon on the eve of St. Nicholas Day
As he told the correspondent of the Russian service «Voices of America» a representative of the Ukrainian clergy, a photograph of the icon that accompanies the texts about Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the Balkans, depicts «Archbishop Nicholas of Myr-Lycia is a miracle worker and belongs to the Old Believer letter».
«It is very likely, if we are talking about this particular icon, that this is the image of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the Old Believer school. A characteristic letter, the addition of the sign of the cross of St. Nicholas», – noted the interlocutor on condition of anonymity. According to the source, the metal frame on the icon may have gilding, but it is difficult to determine from photographs on the Internet..
He stressed that there are several parishes and houses of worship in the territory of Donbass, which is not controlled by Ukraine, belonging to Old Believers of various accords..
Orthodox Eastern rites December 19 celebrate the day of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Mir-Lycia, wonderworker.
There is little information in the Russian press about which icon could have been handed over to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Search query «Lavrov, icon» there is a phrase from the RIA material «news» about the manners of the political environment of Eastern European and Russian politicians.
«According to Bevzenko [image consultant Yulia Bevzenko], Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov can be considered an icon of style in Russia.», – underlined in the text.
The reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry about the fate of the icon, presumably from Luhansk, at the time of writing this material had not yet been.
Icon in geopolitical orbit
Political strategist Dmitry Bachevskyhe believes that the scandal with the Ukrainian icon – it is a disservice to the Kremlin from the Bosnian Serbs, which is indicative of deep-seated problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina itself.
«The icon, brought from Luhansk to Bosnia, could only be delivered there by Serbian militants who fought on the side of the pro-Russian forces. If the icon was then given by the militants to Milorad Dodik as a gift and «trophy», this means that the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs has close ties with the Donbass terrorists and, it is possible, contributed to their organized departure to Donbass to help "Russian brothers"», – says Dmitry Bachevsky to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».
He notes that the scandal around the icon affects not only the image of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but provokes an unnecessary scandal for Russia..
«Milorad Dodik, in an effort to serve Moscow, set up the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov, provoking a diplomatic scandal unnecessary for Russia. The Kremlin will have to make excuses and, what is most unpleasant for them, – return the icon to Ukraine or be known as accomplices in the theft. Although, it is possible that they will decide to return the icon to Lugansk – that is, to where it was taken from», – notes Dmitry Bachevsky.
According to him, the Bosnian Croats and Muslims, who absolutely do not support the imperial aspirations of Russia, would hardly want their country to participate in an international scandal..
Ukraine in this situation, according to Dmitry Bachevsky, should demand a full investigation of the circumstances of the case, punishment of those responsible and the immediate return of the stolen icon to the country..
It is shameful to give stolen goods
Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of Extremism Bohdan Petrenko notes that the gift of an icon stolen in Ukraine – may be a protocol service error.
«But at the same time – it is also a signal that the Russian border is full of holes. After all, other ways to export the stolen – «trophy» valuables from the occupied Donbass, except through Russia, simply do not exist. Therefore, in addition to the mercenaries who fought on the territory of Ukraine, the question can also be addressed to the official Russian structures that facilitate the removal of property from the occupied territories, including those that have historical value.», – says Bogdan Petrenko to the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America».
At the same time, the stolen icon, according to Bohdan Petrenko, – this is «signal» on the part of the Bosnian Serbs that the support of Russia is more important for them than the norms of international law.
«After all, the gift to Lavrov was from a member of the Serbian presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. But at the same time, such a scandal can exacerbate the internal situation in the country, where there are actually three separate societies. – Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. Throwing such sparks into a common fire in such a situation – it is to provoke political crises in your country», – believes Bogdan Petrenko.
The development of events around the gift to the Russian minister, in his opinion, will be a kind of test for Ukraine’s ability to defend its interests.
«And the slogan «Russia – return the stolen» – quite now it can be used even in the diplomatic language. Meaning not only the icon», – notes Bogdan Petrenko.