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Oct 5, 8:57 AM EDT

Peter the Great bust unveiled in French academy of sciences

AP Photo
AP Photo/Michel Euler

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PARIS (AP) -- Russia has donated a statue of Peter the Great to the French Academy of Sciences to mark 300 years since the Russian czar visited Paris in a pivotal moment in his crusade to open his country toward the West.

In unveiling the bust Thursday, Russian Deputy Culture Minister Alla Manilova told The Associated Press it's a "gesture that underlines the depths of our relations."

She also called it a gesture of "historic justice": While the French academy holds busts of other great world thinkers, she said, "there was one who wasn't here - it was Peter."

The ceremony in the prestigious, domed Paris academy comes as French President Emmanuel Macron has cautiously sought to improve ties with Russia after years of East-West tensions over Moscow's actions in Syria and Ukraine.

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