Cultural values smuggling from Russia acquiring organized crime scales

The smuggling of cultural and historic values from Russia is acquiring the organized crime scale, according to RIA Novosti, said First Deputy Head of the Chief Department on Combating Smuggling of the Russian Customs Service Sergei Reshetnikov at the international conference on issues of cultural values illegal turnover held on Wednesday in Moscow.

"Criminals and smugglers are using still more sophisticated methods of exporting masterpieces and items of cultural and historic significance," he said. He admitted that combating cultural values smuggling "was far from easy". "In order to make substantial progress in this work we should closely cooperate with other countries' corresponding structures," Reshetnikov stressed. That is why the Russian Customs Service has recently joined the World Customs Organization including over 160 countries, he said. "With the help of our foreign colleagues, who provided us with operative information, we have managed to prevent 76 attempts of cultural and historic values smuggling in 2002," Reshetnikov pointed out.

During the first half of the current year the Russian Customs Services have confiscated the total of over 760 masterpieces and items of cultural and historic significance, he said. 46 criminal cases on rarities smuggling have been initiated.

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