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Last Updated: Monday, 31 December 2007, 11:31 GMT
Russian art show gets green light
Pablo Picasso's Dryad
The exhibition includes works by Picasso and Van Gogh
An exhibition of major Russian and French artworks is to go ahead in London after a law to protect them came into force in the UK.

Russia's culture agency had blocked the export of the paintings to the Royal Academy of Art until a law guaranteeing their safety was implemented.

It feared they could be seized because of disputes about their ownership.

A spokesman for the Russian agency told Echo Moscow radio that a licence would be issued so the exhibition could open.

Some of the 120 paintings included in the exhibition were taken from private collections after Russia's 1917 revolution.

It was thought some of them could be seized to settle private legal claims.

Immunity from seizure

The new legislation means that descendants of the original owners cannot bring forward their claims on British soil.

Anatoliy Vilkov, deputy head of Russia's cultural protection department, said the paintings would go to London as soon as any "technical questions" are resolved.

The UK government confirmed on Sunday that the "immunity from seizure" legislation had been brought forward from February.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that Culture Secretary James Purnell had made the order to bring the legislation in on 31 December.

From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings is due to open at the Royal Academy of Art on 26 January.

The exhibition is currently showing in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Both the British and Russian governments have denied the clash related to the fallout from the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London last year, which prompted strained relations between the two countries.

The Russian paintings

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