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Part of Leo Tolstoy's 'War & Peace' leaves Russia for first time

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Part of Leo Tolstoy's 'War & Peace' leaves Russia for first time
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For the first time, and under tight security, a small part of Leo Tolstoy’s lengthy epic tale 'War And Peace' has left Russia.

Six pages are now in Geneva in Switzerland where they're the highlight of an exhibition - also called War and Peace - which is sponsored by the United Nations and the International Red Cross and Crescent.

It's widely regarded as one of the finest novels ever written on humankind’s conflicting desires to fight and live together.

And just as Leo Tolstoy was a pacifist by the time he came to wrote it, so was the main protagonist in the novel, the exhibition's director explains.

"Just before this battle, Prince Andrey, who is himself an officer, speaks with utter desolation. He says very clearly that the war cannot be compared at all to a game of chess, that war is a totally dirty detestable affair," Jacques Bechtold said.

Tolstoy once lived in Geneva in a villa which is now used by the United Nations.

Established after World War Two, the UN aims to promote peace by working with all the world's nations, multilaterally.

The exhibition is also marking a centenary of multilateralism which began in 1919 with an array of peace treaties and the setting up of the League of Nations after the First World War.

"For us, it’s really restoring the lessons of the past, that we have to work for peace, work on all levels, and the only possibility now to work for peace is new multilateralism," said Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The excerpt is on display at the Martin Bodmer Foundation in Geneva until March.