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Russia Stops From Russia Exhibition Due to Lack of Guarantees
Henri Matisse, The Dance, 1910, Oil on canvas, 260 x 391 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, St Peterburg. Photo Archives Matisse, Paris.

MOSCOW.- Russia's Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency, Roskultura, announced it will not loan works for the From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings exhibition that was planned to open in January at the Royal Academy of Arts because it claims that Britain failed to guarantee the return of the works.

British Culture Secretary James Purnell stated he would promote legislation offering better guarantees. He had assured Russian in a letter earlier this month that the works were protected under the State Immunity Act of 1978.

Some of the works in the From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings exhibition were taken from private collections after the 1917 revolution and there is worry that some works could be seized to settle private legal claims related to the paintings.

Purnell said he had assured Russia in a letter earlier this month that the artworks were protected under the State Immunity Act of 1978.

Roskultura spokeswoman Natalya Uvarova stated: "We have not received a state guarantee from the United Kingdom. We have only a guarantee from the culture ministry, which is not enough for the exhibition at such a level. This is the usual practice."

Mr. Purnell stated he would bring forward the implementation of the Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Bill 2007, part of which contains the assurances the Russians are seeking.

"Their letter says that that's what they require and that's what we will be doing because we attach such importance to cultural relations as a way of furthering relations between our countries," he stated, "Because this is such an important exhibition we are prepared to go the extra mile," he added.

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