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    MOSCOW, February 5, 2004. /RIA Novosti/. Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg's purchase of the Faberge collection at Sotheby's can launch a major process of the return of art masterpieces to Russia, Dmitry Shvidkovsky, a member of the Russian President's culture and art council, Doctor of Arts, acting member of the Russian Arts Academy and the Russian Architecture and Building Academy, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.

    "Undoubtedly, this is on of the greatest returns of art piece to Russia which disappeared from the country in different ways over the last 100 years," he said.

    This deal is compared with the purchase of the English football club Chelsea by other Russian businessman, Chukotka governor Roman Abramovich. The club and the Faberge collection have equal prices but contradict each other.

    The purchase of the Faberge collection is a remarkable event, which gives big hopes, Shvidkovsky said.

    This is not the first and the only case of the return of art works to Russia but the most important, of course, Shvidkovsky stressed.

    A lot of works of Russian art, mainly jewels and icons, was taken abroad in the 1920-1930s.

    The first Soviet pyatiletka /five-year plan/ was paid by Russian jewels and icon ornaments, he said.

    As a result, we don't have such major collections as Faberge jewelry here in Russia.

    "I hope now we shall see a backward process, the restoration of the great losses in Russia's art which happened in the beginning of the 20th century," Dmitry Shvidkovsky concluded.

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