The 11th Century ivory icon Okon is estimated to be worth 1.6 million euro. (

TBILISI, DFWatch–Separatists in South Ossetia have repeated a call to Georgia to hand over an 11th Century icon currently being kept in the National Museum in Tbilisi.

Representatives of the breakaway republic raised the issue during the latest round of talks in Geneva talks on June 19-20.

The ivory icon Okon, whose estimated value is 1.6 million euro, first surfaced in early 2001, when a Russian national put it up for auction at the British auction house Christie’s, as reported by Radio Liberty the following year.

Swiss authorities handed it over to Georgia in 2004.

“Members of the South Ossetian delegation have called on the Georgian side to allow experts to investigate and evaluate the situation of Ossetian historical and architectural heritage,” the official statement of the de facto authorities says.

Tskhinvali claims there is a serious threat to the preservation of historical and architectural monuments in ‘East Ossetia’, a term used by breakaway politicians to refer to an area covering Truso Valley north of Tbilisi. This area, which lies in Kazbegi municipality in Mtskheta-Mtianeti province, was emptied of its Ossetian minority population in the South Ossetia war in the early 1990s.