The icon of St. Nicholas, presented to Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, was brought to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) from occupied Luhansk, Ukraine by Serbian veterans. This was announced by the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz, which referred to a statement by Nebojša Vukanović, a member of the Republika Srpska parliament that is part of BiH.
Deputy Nebojša Vukanović explained that he was contacted by former president of the Republika Srpska Veterans Assembly Dragan Savić, who claimed that the Ukrainian icon was brought to BiH by Duško Vukotić, current president of the Republika Srpska Veterans Assembly. Consequently, Duško Vukotić declared that the current chairman of the Presidium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, officially welcomed a group of Serbian veterans on May 29, 2018, and they presented him with an icon taken illegally from occupied Luhansk.
This assertion debunks a recent statement by Milorad Dodik’s Office that the 300-year-old icon was owned for many years by an “honest family from Banja Luka”, who wished to present it to Russian Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Serbian veteran leader Duško Vukotić refused to confirm or deny the allegation.
“I have no intention of defending myself and thus adding to these insane allegations! What everyone knows, including me, is that Interpol is working on this case. It’s the world’s largest security agency, so let them do their job! I’m available and willing to be questioned by all agencies in the country where we live among madmen eager for media attention!” Vukotić says.
The icon was presented to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs by Milorad Dodik, Serbian member of the BiH Presidium on December 14, 2020. When local media and the international press began to report that it had been stolen from Ukraine, Moscow decided to return it to BiH. On December 25, the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zeljko Samardzija, delivered the icon to Sarajevo and handed it over to Milorad Dodik’s Office.
Milorad Dodik has not yet responded. He was hospitalized with COVID-19 two days after meeting with Lavrov.