Europe

Ukraine recovers masterpieces stolen from Italy museum

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (front) looks at the recovered paintings. 11 May 2016 Image copyright AP
Image caption Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (front) said the paintings were recovered during a "brilliant operation"

The Ukrainian authorities say they have recovered 17 paintings - worth more than €17m (£13m; $18m) - that were stolen from an Italian museum in 2015.

They say border guards found the works of art hidden in plastic bags in the southern Odessa region, near the border with Moldova.

President Petro Poroshenko said it was a "brilliant operation", which showed Ukraine's fight against art smuggling.

The paintings include works by Tintoretto and Rubens.

They were stolen from Verona's Castelvecchio museum in November 2015.

Three masked armed men entered the building after it closed for the day and just before the alarm system was activated.

They quickly overpowered a security guard and a cashier, before escaping with the paintings in a car.

Last month, 13 suspects were arrested in Italy and Moldova, the Italian authorities said.

President Poroshenko said Italian art experts would now be invited to Ukraine to authenticate the paintings and formalise their handover.

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