18:05 GMT27 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the icon presented to Minister Sergey Lavrov during his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina last week would be returned to the presenter for its history to be clarified by Interpol.

    The gift sparked a controversy after Bosnian media alleged that the Orthodox Christian icon could have been smuggled out of Luhansk, a breakaway region in Ukraine's east.

    "The icon will be returned to the presenter for further clarifications of its history by Interpol", the Russian Foreign Ministry told journalists.

    Lavrov was gifted the 300-year-old gilded icon last Monday during his meeting with Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian tripartite Presidency.

    After media allegations about the icon's Luhansk roots, the Ukrainian embassy in Sarajevo issued a protest note to the Bosnian Foreign Ministry, demanding explanations over the religious token's history, which it described as an "object of Ukrainian cultural heritage."

    Sputnik learned from the Bosnian Foreign Ministry that it had forwarded the note to the Presidency. On Friday, Bosnian prosecutors said they had launched a probe into the foreign ministry's data to track the icon's history.

    gift, icon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Foreign Minister, Russia
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