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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hermitage Chief Gets a Vote of Confidence

Itar-TassAndrei Chernikov, grandson of the architect and artist Yakov Chernikov.
Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum, should not step down as a result of the theft of some 220 artworks from its collection, Mikhail Shvydkoi, head of the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency, said Tuesday evening.

"I don't think [Piotrovsky] should resign," Shvydkoi said on Ekho Moskvy radio. "That does not seem appropriate in this case. If it were, everyone would have to resign, including me."

Three people have been arrested in the Hermitage robbery: the husband and son of museum curator Larisa Zavadskaya and well-known antiques dealer Maxim Shepel.

Shepel's lawyer, Andrei Pavlov, said the antiques dealer had been hospitalized Tuesday with a severe eye injury sustained in his holding cell, reported.

A source in the prison service refuted Pavlov's account, Interfax reported. The source said Pavlov had behaved strangely and was being treated in the psycho-neurology wing of a St. Petersburg hospital.

In a second high-profile art theft this week, drawings worth at least $1.3 million by architect and artist Yakov Chernikhov were removed from Moscow's State Literature and Art Archive.

Some 80 percent of the 3,000 works by Chernikhov in the archive's collection are thought to be missing, Anatoly Vilkov of the Culture and Press Ministry's department in charge of protection of cultural values told Mayak radio.

The artist's grandson, Andrei Chernikhov, first became aware of the theft when he learned that nine of the drawings were up for sale at Christie's auction house in London.

"I looked at the works online and realized that they were very familiar," Andrei Chernikhov said in comment published in Kommersant.

Many of the missing works were replaced with crude copies, Chernikhov said.

Some 700 copies have been discovered to date.