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27 February 2005
Altai Republic demands the return of 'Princess of Ukok'

About five thousand residents of Altai Republic demand the return of the so-called "princess of Ukok" mummy which is now kept in Novosibirsk (Siberia) back to the republic. Written appeal with such request was sent by the residents addressing head of the republic Mikhail Lapshin, chairman of the State Assembly Igor Yaimov and deputy of the State Duma Sergey Pekpeyev. 4654 personal signatures are affixed to the appeal.
     As authors of the appeal inform, many inhabitants of Altai complain of disrespect to their religious views, according to which mountainous Ukok plateau always had its sacral and mystical character. 'Princess of Ukok' is not only a religious and spiritual, but also a cultural and historical heritage of all Mountainous Altai people". Many spiritual leaders of Altai, the request says, connect deseases and natural disasters in the republic to this particular excavation and taking 'the princess of Ukok' out of Altai.
     The mummy was discovered by an archaeological expedition of Novosibirsk scientists headed by doctor of historical sciences Natalia Polosmak in the early 90s. Excavations were carried out at Ak-Alakha tract on the Ukok plateau located in the south of the Mountainous Altai. The plateau borders on Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. Later academician Vyacheslav Molodin discovered one more mummy at this same place, a male warrior. As scientists claim, the mummies were contained in Scythian burial places made in 4-5th centuries BCE. At that time it was a so-called period of 'Pazyryk culture' in Altai.
     The mummies remained preserved due to the permafrost. Scientists insist on continuation of the excavations as interdisciplinary researches indicate possible warming of the climate as a result of which thawing of ice lenses will occur. At present there is even data showing in which exactly barrows on Ukok plateau ice is still existent.
     Today, a powerful movement has emerged in Altai aimed at claiming the mummy back to its 'native land'. Among supporters of this idea, however, there are two directions. One suggests simple returning it to Altai and exposing the mummy in Mountainous Altai Museum. Others demand to re-bury 'princess'. For the last ten years supporters of the mummy's returning were constantly sending appeals to authorities with requests for solving the problem. Still the latest actual form of address has beaten all records by amount of people who had signed it. Novosibirsk archeologists repeatedly declared that they are not against transferring of the mummy to Gorno-Altaisk. Special expensive equipment is necessary to preserve it though, which is currently unavailable at the Altai museum.

Source: Pravda (21 February 2005)

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