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Suspect nabbed in brazen art theft from Moscow museum

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A man who snatched a 19th-century painting off the wall in a busy Moscow museum and calmly walked out has been arrested, authorities said Monday.

The suspect took a Crimean landscape by Russian artist Arkhip Kuindzhi and carried it through a room filled with visitors on Sunday, footage aired on state television showed.

It is the second security incident to hit the capital’s Tretyakov gallery in a year, after a visitor in May seriously damaged a painting of Ivan the Terrible.

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The Russian interior ministry said a 31-year-old man was detained Monday in a village outside Moscow.

He admitted hiding it on a construction site from where it was recovered, a ministry statement said.

The painting, depicting the Ai-Petri mountain in Crimea, was completed between 1898 and 1908.

The ministry published a video of his arrest that showed armed police holding the man to the floor and recovering the painting, that appeared not to be damaged.

Russian Interior Ministry/AFP / Handout It’s the second security incident to hit the capital’s Tretyakov gallery in a year, after a visitor in May serously damaged a painting of Ivan the Terrible

Authorities said the man had previously been charged with drug possession and was currently not allowed to leave Russia. Police are working to establish if he had accomplices.

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“At the time of the theft, the museum’s security — carried out by forces of the National Guard and the museum’s security service — was working normally,” the gallery said.

“Security measures at the Arkhip Kuindzhi exhibition and all sites of the Tretyakov Gallery have been strengthened,” it added.

The Kremlin on Monday said the gallery is “protected at a proper level” but added that “conclusions must be drawn”.

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It also praised authorities for recovering the painting.

“Thank God, thanks to the energetic efforts of our law enforcement officers, the painting was found quickly and efficiently,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

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The theft comes after a man slashed a painting by celebrated Russian artist Ilya Repin, depicting 16th-century Tsar Ivan the Terrible after he killed his son.

Police arrested a 37-year-old who used a metal pole to break the glass covering the picture, damaging the work in three places.

The gallery is currently hosting an exhibition with more than 120 Kuindzhi paintings that will run until February 17.

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On its website, the gallery calls Arkhip Kuindzhi, who died in 1910, “one of the most memorable figures in Russian painting of the second half of the 19th century.”


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Democrats face critical decision on adding new charges to articles of impeachment

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House Democrats are divided over whether to add special counsel Robert Mueller's evidence to the impeachment process.

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday will hear evidence turned up during testimony from the impeachment inquiry focusing on President Donald Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, but some Democrats want to expand the process to include the Russia investigation, reported The Daily Beast.

“This office has been abused and damaged in profound ways,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “I personally would be for holding him accountable for every bit of it. Not for every grievance we have — I wouldn't include his bad behavior or his offensive rhetoric — but some specific actions that I believe that have abused authority and rise to the level of impeachable offense, in my view, would go well beyond the current Ukraine scandal.”

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Trump aides facing jail time counting on pardons as president faces impeachment: report

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According to a report from Politico, former Trump aides facing jail time -- or already in jail -- are using every means possible to get President Donald Trump to issue a blanket pardon before he faces impeachment in the Senate.

The report notes that advocates for former campaign manager Paul Manafort, security adviser Michale Flynn, and Trump supporter Roger Stone are fanning out to right-wing outlets such as Fox News to get the president's attention.

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What would Russia prefer to happen in the UK election?

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The UK election comes against the background of one of the worst periods in Russian-British relations since the end of the Cold War. Badly shaken by the 2006 poisoning of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London, relations spiralled further down in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The poisoning of another former spy, Sergei Skripal, in March 2018 in Salisbury then killed off any hopes of a recovery in bilateral relations.

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