Switzerland allows seized Russian art collection to leave country

A collection of paintings from Moscow's Pushkin State Art Museum seized briefly in a Swiss dispute are being allowed to leave the country, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

"Cantonal (state) authorities have been requested to carry out the release immediately," said Oswald Sigg, a Cabinet spokesman.

Under international law, national cultural assets are protected against confiscation, Paul Seger, a Foreign Ministry official, told a news conference.

Switzerland hopes the prompt release will avoid a legal dispute with Russia, officials said. Under Switzerland's federal system, the government had to invoke a constitutional clause giving it priority over cantons when national interests are at stake. A.M.