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03:51 GMT +3 hours23 December 2014
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Christian relics in Internet auction in Russia are fakes - experts

Russia
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MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - An expert group invited to verify the authenticity of relics offered for sale through the Internet as being genuine remains of a Christian saint has proved they are fake, Russian Orthodox Church spokesmen said Friday.

Professor Yuri Molin, a prominent Russian anthropologist and an expert in forensic medicine, led the group in checking whether the skull and the shoulder bone put up for online auction earlier this year were the remains of Apostle Philipp, as the seller claimed them to be.

"It was established in the course of the examination that the remains could not have belonged to Apostle Philipp or any other known early saint because of their sex, age, and their recent origin (no earlier than the 18th century)," the Moscow Patriarchy said.

The experts said the skull is from a collection of a Novgorod-based archeologist, who offered this and other items to St. Petersburg's Anthropology and Ethnography Museum, and that the inscription - "St. Philipp the Apostle. Nutna, 1899" - denotes the place where it was found, St. Philipp's cathedral on Nutna Street.

The seller of the bones, Boris Georgiyev, has been detained. However, according to the Moscow Patriarchy, no criminal proceedings will be launched against him as the remains were misplaced from the Anthropology Museum's collection way back in 1940 - as objects of low scholarly value.