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Roerich row: Himachal counters Russian embassy remarks

Himachal Pradesh,Art/Culture/Books,Diplomacy, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Shimla, April 25 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh government Wednesday objected to the Russian embassy's allegation that it was trying to take over the trust managing late Russian artist Nicholas Roerich's estate in Kullu.


The state government said that the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT) manages by the estate and it was constituted under the Indian Trusts Act. 'The state government has nothing to do with its (the estate's) day-to-day management,' said a government statement.



It said the state's principal secretary (language and culture) had lodged a protest at the Russian embassy in New Delhi.



The embassy, in a statement issued some days ago, said: 'The Embassy of the Russian Federation strongly rejects aggressive attempts to take over IRMT, undertaken by officials of the Himachal Pradesh government and representatives of the district administration. The second such attempt took place April 17, 2012'.



It said the government authorities behaved in 'a rude and uncivilized manner' and harassed Alena Adamkova, the trust's curator-cum-executive director.



The embassy last week also asked the Indian government to take over the trust and take stock of the estate's property.



However, the Himachal government said a board of trustees took decisions regarding the trust's functioning.



It said the tenure of the curator was not extended beyond Dec 31, 2011, on the recommendation of trust's executive committee.



'The board's chairperson approved the termination of the contract of the curator but the present curator chose to act in an irresponsible manner,' the Himachal government statement said.



'Rather than harassment of the curator as alleged by the embassy, the district administration acted with utmost restraint keeping in view the friendly Indo-Russian relations.'



'The board's chairman has agreed in principle to form a panel with state government officials, Russian representatives and representatives of the ministry of culture to oversee the documentation and handing over of the Roerich collection,' said the statement.



The trust has five Russians and 12 Indians. It was founded July 6, 1992, to manage the estate and preserve the artist's legacy.



Russia's Ambassador to India Alexander M. Kadakin is IRMT's lifetime trustee and vice president, while Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is the ex-officio president.



The estate is located at Naggar, 25 km from Kullu, where Nicholas Roerich, an artist from St. Petersburg, lived and worked for more than 20 years.


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