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Thieves Break Into Russian Museum

December 6, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Art thieves broke into a St. Petersburg museum and made off with 16 paintings dating from the 19th century, including works by the Russian master Ilya Repin, a news report said Monday.

The thieves smashed in a door at the Museum of the Academy of Art, one of the city’s oldest museums, and grabbed the paintings before escaping unnoticed, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. It did not say which Repin works were stolen.

St. Petersburg, the Russian capital in czarist times, is home to some of the world’s great works of art, but most of its museums are run on tiny budgets and lack modern security equipment. The art is largely drawn from the former private collections of czars and nobles.

The latest incident was the city’s second museum theft this year. Thieves broke into the Russian Museum in April and took two paintings by Russian artist Vasily Perov, jumping through a window and firing a pistol shot at a guard as they fled.

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