Mystery of Tsar's treasure is solved

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The Independent Online

One of the world's great cultural mysteries has apparently been solved. Sixty years after Peter the Great's Amber Room disappeared in the chaos of the Second World War, a report has claimed that its fate has finally been uncovered.

The amber-panelled room went missing after Nazi troops invaded the Catherine Palace of St Petersburg, Russia. It has been valued at £150m and often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. It was thought that the panels had been destroyed by the Germans, sunk with a Nazi ship, or secreted away by the Russians.

But a newspaper investigation has revealed that the panels were destroyed in a fire by theRed Army, a fact that was systematically concealed by Soviet officials anxious to avoid being blamed. Only last year President Putin promised that the Amber Room "will be found as a result of properly organised searches".

Taken by the Nazis from the palace, the panelled room was stored at a castle at Königsberg. When the Russianstook over the castle, the room housing the stolen art was accidentally burnt down.

The authors of the new report, who found archive papers kept by the official in charge of the search for the Amber Room, Anatoly Kuzumov, discovered the secret. The papers revealed that a castle staff member had told Mr Kuzumov that the panels had been destroyed in a fire, but he omitted this from his report.