Former Russian Vice-Premier Valentina Matviyenko who was recently appointed as President Vladimir Putin's plenipotentiary in the North-Western federal district spoke against returning the so called Baldin collection to Germany. The collection contains 364 items from the Bremen kunsthalle, brought to the USSR during World War II.
It is a very sensitive issue, as "a great number of values were taken from Russia during the war", Valentina Matviyenko said at a farewell meeting with journalists in the House of Government in Moscow on Monday. When commenting on Russian Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi's initiative to return unconditionally the collection to Germany, Matviyenko stressed that such issues must not depend on "separate individuals' desire".
The Baldin collection got its name after a Soviet captain, Viktor Baldin, who had privately taken it to the Soviet Union. The President's plenipotentiary does not agree that the officer's deed was "immoral". "It was immoral to destroy Peter's Palace, steal the Amber Chamber, block Leningrad, destroy thousands of Soviet cities and kill millions of Russians," Matviyenko stressed.
She believes that Russia can possibly return Germany its cultural values, but only in exchange for similar actions from the German side. "We have every right to make terms on our values' return, for it is us who paid the highest price for World War II," the former Vice-Premier stated.
She believes the fact that many masterpieces Germany stole from Russia are being currently kept in private collections must not hinder their repatriation. Vladimir Putin's plenipotentiary believes the states keeping these collections must buy these values from private art lovers and repatriate them.