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    STOLEN PICTURE RETURNED TO BELGIAN NATIONAL

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    MOSCOW, March 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Russia returns the 17th century's picture "Landscape with a Burning Church" by David Ryckaert stolen from a private collection in Antwerp (Belgium).

    On Wednesday Secretary of State, deputy director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Vyacheslav Ushakov handed this picture to Anatoly Vilkov, a representative of the Russian Culture Ministry, to draw up the documents needed to take the picture abroad.

    The picture was stolen from Mr. Cohls' collection in 1999. It was internationally wanted, the FSB said. In January 2004 some unknown people offered a similar painting for sale on Krymskaya embankment, Moscow. FSB officials found its photo and it was identified with the stolen picture, FSB deputy director, head of the anti-terrorist department Alexander Zhdankov told journalists.

    According to him, the buyer of this picture was later found in Moscow. He gratuitously handed the picture to the Federal Security Service for expert examination and return to the owner.

    Belgian ambassador to Russia Andree Mernier and an official representative of the Belgian police observed the handing of the picture to the Culture Ministry. The ambassador pointed out the development of anti-criminal cooperation between Russia and Belgium.

    He also expressed gratitude to the Russian Federal Security Service and Culture Ministry for the discovery and return of the picture to Mr. Cohls.

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