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Investigation opened against ex-senior Crimea official in artifacts heist – KyivPost

Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation has opened a pre-trial investigation into the alleged theft by a former member of parliament of valuable ancient artifacts belonging to the nation’s cultural heritage.

In a video statement on its official website, the SBI said on June 24 it has opened the case against Valery Horbatov, a former Ukrainian parliament deputy, as well as the former head of the Autonomous Crimean Republic in the autonomy’s Cabinet of Ministers prior to its annexation by Russia.

According to the SBI, the former deputy fled from Kyiv to the occupied territories on the eve of the full-scale invasion of Russia. During the SBI’s searches, in one of the “secret rooms” of Horbatov’s Kyiv office, there were over 6,000 rare items from different historical eras.

Experts of the National History Museum of Ukraine say the historical artifacts are from the eras of the Bronze Age up to the late Middle Ages. During their searches, investigators found such artifacts as Scythian swords, spears, axes, arrows, coins, 12th century chainmail, helmets from the Hellenistic era, and dishes of the Trypillian culture.

The stolen cultural heritage has been preliminarily estimated to be worth at least several million dollars. Investigators surmise the artifacts were probably stolen from Crimean museums and bought from so-called “black archaeologists” dealing in illegal trade in the field.

Under the law, if found guilty, Horbatov could face up 10 years of imprisonment with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a period of up to three years, as well as the confiscation of personal property.

“SBI investigators have gathered irrefutable evidence of Valery Horbatov’s involvement in financing actions aimed at overthrowing the constitutional order in Ukraine, changing its borders or state borders, and justifying aggression against Ukraine,” said SBI director Oleksiy Sukhachev in additional statements regarding Horbatov.

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