Lithuanian president demands ‘punishment’ for Russian book thefts




VILNIUS: Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda on Thursday called for “severe” punishment for those responsible for thefts of rare 19th-century Russian books from libraries in Eastern Europe.
On Thursday AFP reported that Lithuania was one of the countries targeted by a spate of thefts of rare Russian classics, worth 440,000 euros ($480,000) in the Baltic country alone.
The probe into the theft from the library of Vilnius University is ongoing.
“This is really huge news and I hope those responsible will be punished. Punishment for such things should be severe,” Nauseda, a book collector himself, told reporters.
In May, Lithuania’s Vilnius University library discovered 17 of its rare Russian books — including by Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol — had gone missing, with most of the stolen books replaced with fakes.
Similar thefts were reported in the fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia and most recently in Poland at the University of Warsaw.
In each case Russian classic literature was targeted.
The University of Warsaw has so far identified 79 books as missing, meaning it suffered the most substantial losses of all four countries.
A university employee with knowledge of the matter estimated the value of the stolen books at “around a million euros”.
Experts believe the stolen works have found their way to Russia, with at least some sold off at hasty auctions in Moscow.


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