St Nicholas Icon in International Controversy

18th century icon at the center of investigation

This small gilded icon, believed to be about 300 years old, has found itself to be in the center of a diplomatic snafu.

The co-chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia & Herzegovina gave the icon to the Russian Foreign Minister when he was on working visit to Sarajevo.

The icon had originally come from Luhansk, Ukraine, and has an official Ukrainian government seal indicating that it belonged to the Ukrainian government and is part of Ukraine's cultural heritage. It's been announced that the icon was taken to Bosnia & Herzegovina by Serbian veterans when the area around Luhansk was occupied by separatists and the Russian army, aided by Serbian military. The icon was then given in 2018 to the current chairman of the Presidium of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik. 

It has now been returned to the Bosnian & Herzegovinian embassy in Moscow. Ukraine is asking that the icon be returned for examination and is willing to cooperate with Bosnia & Herzegovina to determine accurate provenance. 


  • "Almost a diplomatic incident between Ukraine, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina over an icon of St. Nicholas," OrthodoxTimes, December 24, 2020
  • "Ukrainian icon stolen from Luhansk and brought to Bosnia & Herzegovina by Serbian veterans, says Republika Srpska MP," Euromaidan Press, December 127, 2020
  • "Icon of St. Nicholas for Lavrov and the Diplomatic Difficulties of Bosnia," PrimeTimeZone, December 18, 2020
  • "Ukrainian icon presented to Russian Foreign Minister in Bosnia and Herzegovina is worth 12.5 million euros," UAWIRE, January 13, 2021
  • "Diplomatic game about St. Nicholas in chains – World," TekDeeps, December 19, 2020
  • "Russia Returns Gifted Orthodox Icon to Bosnia After East Ukraine Controversy," The Moscow Times, December 24, 2020
  • "The Ukrainian Icon Presented to Lavrov Left Donbas via Moscow," PromoteUkraine, December 27, 2020
  • "Dodik told the Ukrainian Embassy that the icon presented to Lavrov belonged to a Serbian family," RISU, December 29, 2020

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