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    MOSCOW, January 14 (RIA Novosti) - Director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Patrushev handed over two sculptures by famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin to Minister of Culture Mikhail Shvydkoi. The sculptures had been stolen from the Stalingrad Battle museum in Volgograd, a regional center in the Southern Federal District.

    The masterpieces were handed over in a ceremony on Wednesday in Moscow at the Federal Security Service building.

    The 30cm tall bronze "Jealousy" and "A Kiss" sculptures were made by Rodin in 1899.

    These sculptures were presented to Stalingrad (former Volgograd) in 1945.

    The artist's copies were stolen in 2000. The criminals were detained while attempting to sell one of the sculptures at the end of the last year.

    Nikolai Patrushev said that the purposeful searching operations to find the two statuettes lasted for three years. When they were found experts confirmed their authenticity.

    Minister of Culture Mikhail Shvydkoi expressed a special gratitude to the FSB for the work done. "For us it is a tremendous event," he underscored. "This is a wonderful operation which should be reflected in art," he added.

    The Minister of Culture said that the found sculptures were presented to the residents of Stalingrad by well-known British collector Lady Margaret Westmacott as a sign of recognizing their merits in the victory over fascism. Thus, he noted, "this is not only an artistic but also a historical value." In his turn, the head of the department for the preservation of cultural values of the Ministry of Culture, Anatoly Vilkov, said that the detained criminals tried to sell the stolen sculptures abroad for six million rubles (approximately 200,000 dollars).

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