The continued acts of vandalism with regard to cultural landmarks in Iraq "cause alarm and grave concern" in Moscow.
As RIA Novosti was told in the information and press department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, "an irrecoverable damage has been done to the cultural wealth of the country, which is one of the most ancient world civilisations".
The Foreign Ministry officials pointed out that Russia "in proper time drew the world society's attention to the necessity of taking urgent measures to stem similar acts of vandalism". The lists of the landmarks, which are in immediate jeopardy, prepared by Russian specialists, were sent specifically to the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow.
In these conditions, the initiative of UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura to send a group of international experts to Iraq for determining the scale of the damage, as well as his call upon the governments of the USA and Great Britain, the leaders of the states neighbouring on Iraq, and the international police and customs organisations to ensure safety of the country's cultural institutions and archaeological monuments and to prevent the stolen objects and values from being taken abroad and sold deserve universal support, the Russian Foreign Ministry officials disclosed.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, "expressing concern over the preseent situation," states "the Russian side's readiness for full-scale participation in the actions under the UNESCO aegis, aimed at saving the cultural heritage of Iraq and at giving assistance to the resumption of activity of the country's cultural institutions."