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Private collectors key to boosting Russia's art market

In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019, Russian art collector Roman Babichev speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his apartm...
Natalia Opaleva, a banker and head of a Siberian gold mine, and collector of the Soviet-era underground art speaks during an interview with The Associ...
In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019, Russian art collector Roman Babichev arrives to an interview with The Associated Press in his apartment...
In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019, Russian art collector Roman Babichev speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his apartm...
Natalia Opaleva, a banker and head of a Siberian gold mine, and collector of the Soviet-era underground art speaks during an interview with The Associ...
In this photo taken on Monday, March 18, 2019, visitors look at Marc Chagall illustrations for "Dead Souls", a novel by Nikolai Gogol projected on a s...
In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, a view of the building of the AZ Museum in Moscow, Russia. A small space tucked between grand apartmen...
In this photo taken on Thursday, March 21, 2019, Dmitry Aksenov, property developer and art collector gestures while speaking during an interview with...
In this photo taken on Monday, March 18, 2019, visitors look at an installation by Anatoly Zverev at the AZ Museum, in Moscow, Russia. The AZ Museum w...
Marina Loshak, director of the Moscow Pushkin State Art Museum speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 14...
In this photo taken on Thursday, March 21, 2019, Dmitry Aksenov, property developer and art collector gestures while speaking during an interview with...
In this photo taken on Monday, March 18, 2019, visitors look at an exhibition of Marc Chagall illustrations for "Dead Souls", a novel by Nikolai Gogol...

In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019, Russian art collector Roman Babichev speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his apartm...

Natalia Opaleva, a banker and head of a Siberian gold mine, and collector of the Soviet-era underground art speaks during an interview with The Associ...

In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019, Russian art collector Roman Babichev arrives to an interview with The Associated Press in his apartment...

In this photo taken on Friday, March 15, 2019, Russian art collector Roman Babichev speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his apartm...

Natalia Opaleva, a banker and head of a Siberian gold mine, and collector of the Soviet-era underground art speaks during an interview with The Associ...

In this photo taken on Monday, March 18, 2019, visitors look at Marc Chagall illustrations for "Dead Souls", a novel by Nikolai Gogol projected on a s...

In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, a view of the building of the AZ Museum in Moscow, Russia. A small space tucked between grand apartmen...

In this photo taken on Thursday, March 21, 2019, Dmitry Aksenov, property developer and art collector gestures while speaking during an interview with...

In this photo taken on Monday, March 18, 2019, visitors look at an installation by Anatoly Zverev at the AZ Museum, in Moscow, Russia. The AZ Museum w...

Marina Loshak, director of the Moscow Pushkin State Art Museum speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 14...

In this photo taken on Thursday, March 21, 2019, Dmitry Aksenov, property developer and art collector gestures while speaking during an interview with...

In this photo taken on Monday, March 18, 2019, visitors look at an exhibition of Marc Chagall illustrations for "Dead Souls", a novel by Nikolai Gogol...

MOSCOW (AP) — Private collectors have become key players in Russia's art market, at a time when sanctions and economic woes have pushed culture down the Kremlin's agenda.

Wealthy individuals like Roman Babichev are filling the gap by bringing much-needed cash to support young Russian artists and bring historical works to galleries and museums.

The tradition of private art collectors in Russia precedes even the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution when magnates like Sergei Shchukin and Pavel Tretyakov amassed priceless troves, now in the country's top museums. Today's collectors may not have the same stature, says Pushkin Museum director Marina Loshak, but they are key to developing Russia's art scene.

Loshak told The Associated Press: "Collectors are the big impetus, without collectors there are no galleries and these are the laboratories, the test tube, in which everything happens."