March 7, 2017. At present in Moscow representatives of law enforcement agencies on the initiative of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation are carrying out seizure of the largest heritage of the Roerichs from the International Centre of the Roerichs. “Right now the building of the Centre – at Myalyi Znamenskyi Str. 3/5 [in Moscow] – is being blocked by representatives of law enforcement agency. The armed special mission unit has taken away from us the keys, they are carrying out search and seizure” – said the First Vice-President of the International Centre of the Roerichs Alexander Stetsenko.
At present the phones of the leaders of the International Centre of the Roerichs have been taken away from them and they are cut off from the outside world. The entrance door of the Museum has been broken. The paintings are being torn down.
The Roerichs are a renowned family of great Russian artists, scholars, philosophers, public figures. The Roerichs heritage was transferred by Svetoslav Roerich (1904-1993) – a citizen of India – to the founded by him in Moscow non-governmental organization “The International Centre of the Roerichs” (ICR).
The International Centre of the Roerichs on the basis of the transferred to it by Svetoslav Roerich heritage and in accordance with his will established a world-class museum – the non-governmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, it is situated in the very heart of Moscow, in the Lopoukhin Mansion. The preserved by the non-governmental Museum of the International Centre of the Roerichs heritage consists of the largest in the world collection of Roerichs’ paintings, unique archive, rare collections of small plastic art gathered by the Roerichs during their Central Asian Expedition (1924-1928), memorial library, memorial museum fund and other rare museum items.
The value of the heritage of the International Centre of the Roerichs is enormous. The paintings of Nicholas Roerich (1984-1947) invariably are among the most expensive lots at the auctions of Russian art of the leading auction houses.
The non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the International Centre of the Roerichs is the largest non-governmental museum in Russia and the biggest centre of the independent culture in the country. For some years now the leaders of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation do everything possible to misappropriate the heritage given by Svetoslav Roerich to the International Centre of the Roerichs (ICR), as well as to take away from the ICR the museum premises – the Lopoukhin mansion – and thus to annihilate the non-governmental Nicholas Roerich Museum of the ICR. Having failed to seize the heritage through court decision, they have now initiated coercive measures by the law-enforcement agencies.
The International Centre of the Roerichs was nominated in 2016 for the Nobel Peace Prize, it has received a number of European and Russian awards and prizes for outstanding achievements in the field of museology and the preservation of cultural heritage, and in particular Lyudmila Shaposhnikova, the Director General of the Nicholas Roerich Museum of the ICR has been awarded the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage “Europa Nostra” (in 2010) (http://www.europanostra.org/awards/31/) for the scientific restoration of the old Lopoukhin Mansion in Moscow, wherein the non-governmental Museum of the ICR is housed since 1990. The restoration of the Lopoukhin Mansion was executed entirely by the efforts of the ICR due to finds from the wide public, without a single penny from the government.
The wide-scale cultural, educational, scientific, publishing and exhibition activity of the International Centre of the Roerichs and its Museum has won not only renown, but also a well-deserved international cultural recognition, it has been praised by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.
We regard the seizure of the Roerichs heritage of the International Centre of the Roerichs in Moscow carried out forcefully by representatives of law enforcement agency as an unprecedented violation of the rights of the civil society and a display of coercive measures by the government authorities which contradicts the established and generally accepted democratic principles and norms.