Russia asks Christie's not sell "stolen" documents

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MOSCOW, Nov 13 (Reuters) Moscow has asked Christie's auction house to withdraw from sale 41 Russian army documents, it believes could have been stolen from military archives, Russia's culture watchdog said.

''We suspect these documents were stolen from the State Russian Military Archives in Moscow,'' Yevgeny Strelchik, spokesman for Rosokhrankultura, the state media and culture supervision authority, told Reuters.

''These are military documents -- resolutions and orders of various kinds,'' he said. ''They date back to the 20th century, including the Soviet period.'' He said Rosokhrankultura was in talks with Christie's lawyers, asking the auction house to withdraw the documents from a November 29 sale.

''As a rule, they are very attentive to our requests, especially if we prove them by documents,'' Strelchik said.

He declined to estimate how much these documents could cost or give any further information.

The auction house said on its Web site it would sell ''valuable Russian books and manuscripts'' on November 29.

These include, among others, a collection of 40 typed orders and profiles, signed ''Zhukov'' to the Kiev Military District, from July 15 to December 19, 1940.

Georgy Zhukov was one of Russia's greatest military commander's during World War II and led one of the vast Soviet army groups that captured Berlin in 1945.

''We treasure such documents as part of our history,'' Strelchik said. ''For us this is our historic legacy we have to protect.'' REUTERS CS KP0917

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