International conference on smuggling of cultural artefacts opens in Moscow

On Tuesday an international conference opened in Moscow to address the issue of illegal movement of valuable works of art. It has been organised by the Moscow office of UNESCO, the Russian ministry of culture, and the Russian committee of the International Conference of Museums.

At the opening of the conference, Guido Carducci, director of UNESCO's department for the protection of cultural heritage, named the starting point for the discussions as an international convention aimed at ending and preventing the illegal import, export and transfer of ownership rights to cultural treasures. According to UNESCO, this convention was agreed upon in 1970, and has since been signed by 96 countries.

In Carducci's words, the smuggling of such artefacts bears the hallmark of "well organised international criminal organisations". To combat them, stressed the UNESCO representative, "our actions must be organised and co-ordinated at the local, national and international levels".

An exhibition of works of art is also being held within the framework of the conference. It consists of items confiscated by Russian customs officials while being illegally removed from the country.

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