The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Source: Alamy / Legion media
Russia's Ministry of Culture and Interior Ministry are looking into the possibility of using a government security organization to protect the country's cultural treasures following the withdrawal of police posts from museums.
In early September Anatoly Yakunin, director of the Russian Interior Ministry's Chief Directorate on Moscow, said that the ministry is removing the posts due to large-scale cutbacks in the ministry. But after several attacks on exhibitions, including an assault by Orthodox Christian activists on artwork in Moscow's Manezh exhibition hall, the question of who will guard the museums was raised.
Now the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Interior Ministry are holding negotiations about engaging the Okhrana organization within the Interior Ministry, which consists of retired policemen, to protect museums.
The Okhrana is a commercial structure supervised by the Interior Ministry, so they earn money for the federal budget.
"We have mailed out letters to all cultural organizations, suggesting executives to use service of Okhrana from Nov. 1," the organization's official representative Valery Gribakin told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
But all museums' directors are free to decide who will work with them: either Okhrana, or any other private service, Gribakin added.
According to presidential cultural advisor Vladimir Tolstoy, Okhrana is a compromise and would be better than using private security services.
An abridged version of the article first published in Russian by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
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