Meanwhile, a valuable bronze statue removed by wheelbarrow from an

East Lothian gallery more than a year ago has been found buried in woods

near the scene of the raid.

Detectives, acting on information, made the discovery of the #24,000

work, known as Football Supporters, during a search yesterday of

woodlands near Haddington.

The recovery of the 26in-high statue -- said to be in good condition

-- comes only days before its creator, Ukrainian artist Valentin Znoba,

is due to arrive in Scotland to mount an exhibition of his work at the


Arrangements are now being made for Znoba to travel in person to

Haddington police station to collect the statue, which has three

figures, two sitting on a bench and another standing behind.

Yesterday the directors of the Sands Gallery at Haddington,

celebrating the discovery of the work, telephoned Kiev to tell the

sculptor it had been found safe and undamaged nearly 14 months after

what they termed had been ''a violent smash and grab raid''.

Gallery director Mrs Gill Bethell said last night: ''I can't express

enough our thanks to Lothian and Borders Police. The Ukrainian

Ambassador is a close friend of Valentin's and is coming to Edinburgh

soon to visit the exhibition.

''I feel so relieved that we have been able to tell him that one of

Ukraine's national treasures has been recovered.''

Mrs Bethell spoke of the ''pure coincidence'' that 50 of the artist's

works, some on loan from the Ukrainian National Museum of Fine Arts,

would be arriving overnight for the festival exhibition at Edinburgh's

Morningside Church.

Znoba himself will arrive on Wednesday and, once the work is collected

from the police station, it will take pride of place in the exhibition

at which a tribute will be on show to the police.

Mr John Bethell said they were ''gobsmacked'' about the find. ''I was

in Kiev just 10 days ago, going over an inventory of the pieces for the

exhibition. Valentin looked at me and asked if there was any news and I

told him not to give up hope.''

Last year there was a series of thefts involving statues in the

Lothians and at the time detectives did not rule out a link and the

possibility they were ''stolen-to-order'' raids.

Among items stolen were a #2000 bust from the foyer of Edinburgh Royal

Infirmary and a #10,000 classical statue of a winged god from a stately

home in East Lothian.