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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Icons Are Damaged

MOSCOW (AP) -- Several valuable icons in the Kremlin's Assumption Cathedral were damaged when helicopters flew in and out of the Kremlin grounds last week carrying President Boris Yeltsin and Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, a Kremlin Museum official said.

The 17th-century religious paintings in the Assumption Cathedral, the Kremlin's oldest and largest church, were damaged by vibrations from three helicopters that landed nearby.

Helicopters rarely fly into the Kremlin, which was founded nearly 800 years ago as a wooden fort and was built up over centuries into its current grandeur with crenelated walls and gold-encrusted cathedrals.

Irina Kachalova, a senior researcher with the Kremlin Museums, told Itar-Tass that visible damage to the icons consisted of plaster falling out of cracks in the boards on which the icons are painted. She added that the cathedral itself may have sustained damage.

According to witnesses, the vibrations from helicopters were so strong that they could hear the rattle of glass in windows.

Bookshelves shook visibly in one of the museum buildings, Itar-Tass reported.

It was unclear why Yeltsin's aides decided to use helicopters during Kohl's visit. Like Soviet leaders before him, Yeltsin usually leaves and enters the Kremlin in an entourage of limousines while traffic is stopped.