The desecration of an ancient Orthodox church near Tirana is a crime against Albania’s cultural heritage, Director of International Relations and Projects at the Albanian Television Kleart Duraj said in an interview to the Voice of Russia.
Media said that vandals had cut out and made away with a part of a 16th -century fresco by a famous icon-painter, Onufry, in a small village of Vlash some 60 kilometers south of the Albanian capital.
According to Duraj, the thieves sneaked into the church during the New Year holiday, so the damage to the frescoes was noticed only a while after the break-in.
He waved off media reports that suggested this could have come as a response to Kosovo Serbs’ attempts to establish an Autonomous Province of Kosovo within Serbia.
Albania has no religious in-fighting, Kleart Duraj stressed in the interview. The country is populated by both Catholics and Orthodox Christians, and it has no history of religious wars, he added.
“I don’t believe some Kosovo Albanians would have travelled all this way to “take revenge” on local Orthodox Christians,” Mr. Duraj said. “Most probably, the thieves hoped to sell the relics off and get rich,” he said.