A rare German-made self-propelled assault gun has disappeared from a memorial site at a small village in the Moscow region after being replaced with a copy during restoration, prosecutors said on Monday.
One of the few remaining Sturmgeschutz III Ausf D assault guns was dug up from a marsh in the 1980s and set up as a memorial near the village of Strokovo – the site of fierce battles during the German push on Moscow in 1941.
The vehicle was recently dismantled for restoration work, but when it was put back on a pedestal in July 2011, it turned out to be a similar-looking copy made with the use of modern technology.
“According to expert evaluation, the examined assault gun is a precise copy which does not have any cultural value because its hull and some parts have been made from modern materials and with the use of advanced technologies,” prosecutors said in a statement.
According to the investigation, local authorities contracted a firm that had no license to carry out reconstruction works, but rather traded in furniture and home appliances.
A criminal case has been opened over the disappearance.
Stug III Ausf D is a slight modification of the original Stug III assault gun. A total of 150 vehicles were manufactured from May to September 1941.
Another remaining Stug III Ausf D is on display at the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.