Rare Russian books vanishing from libraries across EU – NYT — RT World News

The newspaper reported that more than 170 volumes of the most famous writers in Russia were stolen

Dozens of unique Russian books with a total value of more than $2.6 million, including some works by poet Alexander Pushkin, have been stolen from libraries across Europe since the Ukrainian conflict began in 2022, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

One of the first thefts reportedly occurred in April 2022 at the University of Tartu library in Estonia. Two men presenting themselves as Ukrainian scholars took several 19th-century volumes containing the writings of Pushkin (1799-1837) and Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852).

Four months later, a routine annual inventory of the library found that eight books consulted by the same men had disappeared. The New York Times noted that they have been replaced with high-quality copies so that only experts can tell the difference.

Similar incidents involving rare Russian books worth tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars have been reported in major libraries across Europe, including the National Library of Latvia, the Berlin State Library, the National Library of Finland, and the National Library of France. The Warsaw University Library was the worst affected, with 78 books missing, according to Europol.

In most cases, they have been replaced with high-quality replicas that even mimic the age-related deterioration of the originals, indicating a complex process.

Pierre-Yves Guillemette, a London dealer who specializes in rare Russian books, told the New York Times that libraries are easy targets because they are often underfunded and lack security.

“Books are easy to get, easy to know what books to get, and easy to know their value.” It is to explain.

The newspaper pointed out that Western sanctions prevent European Union merchants from selling rare books to Russians, leading to shadow operations that are difficult to track. However, stolen Russian books are unlikely to appear at official Western auctions, according to Guillemette.

A special French police anti-cultural theft unit is overseeing the investigation in France and coordination across Europe, and nine people have been arrested in connection with the thefts, according to Europol. The New York Times reported that the French authorities suspect that they are trying to recover the treasures.

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