Bosnian Serb Leader Dodik Admits Grilling Over ‘Icon’ Case

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, confirmed on Thursday that he had been called to the Prosecution in connection with the case of the 300-year-old Ukrainian icon that he presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in December during his visit to Bosnia.

Ukraine claims he had no right to give away the gilded icon of St Nicholas that it says originates from eastern Ukraine.

Dodik remained defensive about the issue on Thursday, however. "The icon does not belong to Ukraine because it did not seek it. There is no case here, no evidence, no crime. Everything is a lie," he said.

After it was published that Dodik had given Lavrov the icon, the Ukrainian embassy sent a protest note to the Bosnian Foreign Ministry, seeking "detailed information on the origin of this item".

On December 23, Russia returned the icon to the Bosnian embassy in Moscow. A few days later, the Bosnian ambassador to Russia brought the icon back to Bosnia and handed it back to Dodik.

The Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia opened a case on December 18.

Ukraine claims the icon is part of its cultural heritage and originates from Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, part of a region now held by Russian-backed separatists. Lugansk is currently the capital and administrative centre of the Lugansk People's Republic, an unrecognised breakaway state established in 2014 by the separatists.

The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA published a photo of the icon and a seal confirming its authenticity, which clearly shows that its origin was in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian media, it was used as the seal of the Ukrainian Committee for Culture in 1920.

Dodik said earlier that the icon was now in a safe in his office in East...

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