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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paintings Were Copies

Officials at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg have said that three paintings confiscated in Chechnya by federal troops and believed to belong to the museum were copies executed by a Chechen painter with the museum?s official permission.

According to news agencies, Lechi Abayev, an ethnic Chechen and St. Petersburg resident, was detained earlier this week at the border between Chechnya and Dagestan and accused of trying to smuggle abroad 14 paintings, three of which bore inventory numbers from the Hermitage.

But museum officials said Tuesday their records show that Abayev had permission to paint copies of the three paintings ? by El Greco, Vermeer and Renoir ? in 1984-85 while studying at the Repin Art Institute, Interfax reported.