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HP govt lodges protest with Russian embassy against allegations over IMRT

Govt says tenure of the Russian curator at Roerich gallery has not been extended

india Updated: Apr 25, 2012 20:13 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times

Amidst escalating row with Russians over International Roerich Memorial Trust (IMRT), Himachal Pradesh government lodged a protest with Russian embassy in New Delhi over allegations leveled by Russians in a letter written to state government.

“The statement is not only factually incorrect but is also malicious and appears to have been made internationally to malign the Government of Himachal Pradesh. Government of Himachal Pradesh has also lodged a formal protest with the Embassy of Russian Federation through Principal Secretary (Language and Culture) said the government spokesman. Russian side alleged that state government move was aimed at undermining Russia’s civilization values and aimed at provoking a scandal of bilateral and international dimensions. Apart from saying that state government was rude towards the Russian curator

Russian Embassy requested India to work out an “appropriate mechanism to take IRMT under the Central jurisdiction. Government clarified that the affairs of the IRMT, Naggar are managed by the IRMT Trust constituted under the Indian Trusts Act and the Government of Himachal Pradesh has nothing to do with the day to day management of the Trust. The decisions regarding the affairs of the Trust are taken by the Board of Trustees (BoT).

The tenure of the Russian Curator had not been extended beyond 31st December 2011 on the recommendation of the Executive Committee (EC) of the IRMT. “ The competent authority that is the Chairperson of the BoT( Chief Minister ) approved the termination of the Contract of the curator but the present curator chose to act in an irresponsible manner. Rather than harassment of the curator as alleged by the Embassy of Russian Federation, the district administration has acted in an utmost restrained manner keeping in view the friendly Indo-Russian relations” said the spokesman

Notwithstanding spate of allegations leveled by Russian against state government, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has agreed to form joint panel to oversee cataloguing and transfer of Roerich’s collection. The move is aimed at deescalating the ongoing row International Memorial Roerich Memorial Trust (IMRT) that manages affairs of estate in Naggar village in Kullu that houses collections of Nicholas Roerich and his sons.
Tripartite panel will comprise of representatives Russian and Indian government while officials from the state government. Russian side in a letter to the state government had suggested forming commission for transfer of Roerich collection. In the letter Russian diplomat had accused the state government of the trying to take control over Roerich Trust, which was set up by renowned India actress Devika Rani who was married to Roerich’s younger son Svetoslav, set up the IRMT in
1993, with then Himachal Pradesh chief minister as president and Russian Ambassador to India as vice-president. The trust was entrusted with the task of managing the affairs of the estate in Naggar and
Row over trust deepened after lifetime Trustee Shakti Singh Chandel alleged serious financial irregularities and accused the executive director and curator Trust Elena Adamkova of mismanagement at the estate in Naggar village in Kullu. Adamkova, a Slovakian, has been executive director and curator of IRMT since 2001.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had ordered an probe to ascertain the veracity of allegations. Russian embassy backed the Russian curator. Amidst the escalating the tensions Himachal Government between the Russian Embassy and the Himachal government, her contract was not renewed after it.

Later row deepened when in February this year Chief Secretary referring to ruling of Karnataka high court, asked the union ministry of external affairs to “advise” Russia’s ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin to withdraw his membership from the trust. Karnataka high court, in its order in 2002, held that the membership of foreigners in the trust, which was managing the Tataguni Estate and the properties of Roerich in Bangalore, was invalid.

First Published: Apr 25, 2012 20:11 IST