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Chagall’s works not going to Sweden for fear of arrest on YUKOS case — Russian Museum

September 03, 2015, 21:56 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian Culture Ministry has cancelled an exposition of Marc Chagall’s paintings, which was supposed to open at Millesgarden Museum in Stockholm on September 12
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© ITAR-TASS/Mitya Aleshkovsky

MOSCOW, September 3 /TASS/. The Russian Culture Ministry has cancelled an exposition of Marc Chagall’s paintings, which was supposed to open at Millesgarden Museum in Stockholm on September 12 for fear of arrest in connection with the YUKOS case, museum’s director Vladimir Gusyev told TASS by telephone on Thursday.

"There are risks that Russian property abroad can be arrested in connection with the YUKOS case. We had those risks. That is why we (the museum) and the Ministry of Culture decided that the risks were higher than possible positive results from this exhibition. We can see many unfriendly moves these days. It was supposed to be an exposition of paintings of Marc Chagall and his contemporaries," Gusyev explained.

He added the decision had disappointed the Russian Museum’s partners in Sweden because they had spent money on the project.

According to the Russian Culture Ministry department for cultural heritage, the ministry recommended the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg not to send Chagall’s pictures to Sweden because the Russian side had not received the necessary guarantees that the exhibits would safely return to Russia.

The Millesgarden Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, reported on its website that a four-month exhibition of vanguard painters from the collection of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg to open on September 12. Twenty works by Marc Chagall and 30 pictures by his contemporaries, including Mikhail Larionov and Natalya Goncharova, were supposed to go on display in Stockholm.

In July last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague obliged Russia to pay almost 50 billion dollars in compensation to companies affiliated with the former YUKOS shareholders. Russia was categorically against the decision. The Russian Finance Ministry issued a statement, which said that the ruling directly contradicted the conclusions of the two chambers of the European Court of Human Rights.

However, attempts were made in June 2015 to use the Russian property abroad for enforcing the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and meet the claims of Yukos Universal Limited in France and Belgium. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Belgian and French authorities arrested the accounts of Russian embassies in Belgium and France as well as the accounts of Russia’s permanent missions to the European Union, NATO and UNESCO, the United Nations overseer of world heritage. The accounts were unblocked only after interference by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Swedish museum regrets cancellation of Chagall’s exposition

The management of Millesgarden Museum in Stockholm is disappointed with Russia’s decision to cancel the exposition of works by Marc Chagall and other vanguard painters.

The exposition from the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg was supposed to open on September 12. It was supposed to feature 20 works by Marc Chagall and 30 pictures by his contemporaries, including Mikhail Larionov and Natalya Goncharova.

Our colleagues from the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, which had to send the bulk of Marc Chagall’s works to our exhibition, are also disappointed, Millesgarden’s Director Onita Wass said.

She said the two museums had cooperated well despite some insurance and transportation problems, which arose in connection with the forthcoming exhibition.

We are very disappointed, Wass went on to say, that we failed to influence the final decision and the exhibition was cancelled at the last minute.

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