Sat, 24 Aug 2019

MOSCOW -- The trial over the theft of a 20th century Russian painting from Moscow's state-run Tretyakov Gallery in January has begun in the Russian capital.

The defendant in the case, Denis Chuprikov, said he 'partially accepted guilt' as the trial began on July 22.

Prosecutors say Chuprikov damaged the 1908 painting of mountain ridges by the Russian artist Arkhip Kuindzhi after he stole it and unframed it in January.

Prosecutors also estimated the cost of restoration work at 13,300 rubles ($211).

But the prosecution also charged that by stealing the painting, Chuprikov inflicted damages of nearly 20 million rubles ($317,600) upon the Culture Ministry.

The prosecutors also said the theft had marred the reputation of the Tretyakov Gallery.

After one witness for the prosecution failed to appear at the July 22 hearing, the trial was adjourned until July 30.

Ai-Petri. Crimea by Arkhip Kuindzhi

Chuprikov, a 32-year-old Russian citizen who was born in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, was arrested on January 28 -- just one day after the painting was stolen in broad daylight while the museum was open.

Chuprikov was charged with theft after authorities said the painting was recovered at a construction site near his home outside Moscow.

The stolen work -- titled Ai Petri. Crimea -- depicts a mountain on the Crimea Peninsula and was valued at $1 million but was insured for only about $185,000.

Kuindzhi, a Russian artist of Urum-Greek origin who lived from 1842 to 1910, is known for his landscape paintings.

In 2008, a Kuindzhi painting from 1881 titled Birch Grove was sold at Sotheby's auction house for more than $3 million.

The Tretyakov Gallery is one of Russia's leading art museums. It has been targeted by criminals several times in recent years.

In April, a Moscow court sentenced a man to two and 1/2 years in prison after convicting him of vandalizing a famous 19th century painting of Tsar Ivan the Terrible at the Tretyakov in May 2018.

The court found Igor Podporin guilty of using a metal pole to damage a Russian cultural treasure: realist painter Ilya Repin's 1885 work depicting the seemingly anguished ruler cradling his bloodied son after mortally wounding him in a fit of rage.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and Interfax

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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