Pillage of sacred treasures
Plunder of churches
In the 1990s the plunder of churches in eastern Europe, notably in Russia, the Ukraine and the Czech Republic, was on a scale normally associated with wartime. Thieves were either part of organized gangs working on assignment for art collectors, or simply petty thieves seeking valuable materials to melt down or adapt to other needs. The consequence has been the loss of icons, crucifixes, statues and paintings. In 1993 there were over 2,000 burglaries involving religious objects in the Czech Republic, compared to 100 in 1989. The illegal export of icons has proliferated.