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CHELAYBINSK, August 11. /TASS/. The Chelyabinsk regional department of the Russian Security Service (FSB) has launched a criminal case against a private collector who is suspected of stealing a fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite from the regional historical museum, the department’s press service said in a statement on Friday.
In early July 2017, the museum authorities filed a report with the FSB saying the fragment was missing.
"The Chelyabinsk regional department of the Russian Security Service has launched a criminal case in accordance with Article 159.4 of the Russian Criminal Code (large scale fraud) against a private collector who stole a fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite from the South Urals State Historical Museum," the statement reads. According to the FSB, being a geologist, the collector served as a consultant for the museum." "A meteorite fragment weighing 2.5 kilograms was found in his collection," the FSB added.
The FSB sources also said, citing experts from the South Urals Chamber of Industry and Commerce, that "the market value of the meteorite fragment is estimated at around 1.5 mln rubles ($25,000)".An investigation into the case is underway.
The Chelyabinsk meteorite entered the Earth’s atmosphere on February 15, 2013, causing a strong explosion at a height of 30-50 kilometers. The shock wave from the explosion broke the windows in hundreds of buildings in the city of Chelyabinsk and its suburbs.
Numerous meteorite fragments fell on the Chelyabinsk region’s territory. Hundreds of thousands of people in Russia’s Urals area, as well as in northern Kazakhstan, witnessed the event. The largest meteorite fragments fell near Chebarkul Lake, located 78 kilometers west of Chelyabinsk, and were taken to the city museums.