The court ruled that the “Scythian gold” from the collection of Crimean museums should be transferred to Ukraine. The museum called this decision “legalized theft”, and Zelensky promised to return “Crimea” after the return of the exhibits
The Court of Appeal in Amsterdam ruled that “Scythian gold” from the Crimea belongs to Ukraine and decided to transfer it to Kiev, reports Reuters.
“Scythian gold” is a collection of 2 thousand objects, which the Crimean museums in February 2014 transferred to the Allad Pierson Museum in the Netherlands for an exhibition. After the entry of Crimea into Russia, which occurred in March of that year, Ukraine claimed the rights to the exhibits.
The court decided to transfer the collection to Kiev until the situation in Crimea stabilizes, the decision says. It also notes that Russia can appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. Until that time, the exhibits will not be transferred to Ukraine.
RBC sent a request to the Ministry of Culture and the director of the East Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve Tatiana Umrikhina.
Before the court’s decision, the Kremlin reported that they were monitoring the fate of the Scythian gold, the correspondent of RBC reports. “This is mainly done by our lawyers and the Ministry of Culture. But the topic is important, of course, we are following,” said presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov. He later refused to comment on the court’s decision, RIA Novosti reports.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, in turn, called the court’s decision a “long-awaited victory”. “I am grateful to the court for a fair decision. We always get our own back. First we will return the Scythian gold, and then the Crimea, he said.
In the Central Museum of Taurida, the court’s decision was criticized, while noting that it did not become unexpected. According to the director of the museum Andrey Malgin, there is a “legalized theft” in which the Ukrainian side “steals” part of the cultural heritage from the Crimea, calling it a return”.
“We are particularly outraged by the double standards of our European partners, who, with one hand, give away the cultural heritage that they once stole in Africa and Asia, on the other hand, award the cultural heritage of the peoples of Crimea that does not belong to Ukraine in any way, declaring it a fair decision. I have the nastiest impression of all this action, inside of which we have been cooking for the last seven years,” Malgin told RBC. He added that while the museums are waiting for the advice of their lawyers.
Alexander Molokhov, deputy Head of the working group on international legal issues at the Permanent Mission of Crimea to the President of Russia, also criticized the court’s decision, calling it politicized. “I hope that in the very near future a cassation appeal will be filed with the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, and the execution of this decision will be suspended,” he told Interfax.
Crimean museums demanded that the Dutch Allard Pierson Museum return the exhibits to the peninsula. In December 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that “Scythian gold” belongs to Ukraine and should be transferred to Kiev. Crimean museums have filed an appeal, the final decision has been postponed several times.
Among the exhibits are a golden Scythian helmet, a sword and a scabbard for it, a painted altar from the burial of the Scythian king Skilur in the mausoleum of Scythian Naples in Simferopol, a statue of the snake-footed goddess of the Scythians, as well as Chinese lacquer boxes from the Ust-Alminsky burial ground, jewelry and other items. In 2017, the approximate estimated insurance value of “Scythian gold” was about “euro;2 million, said the Minister of Culture of Crimea Arina Novoselskaya. According to her, the real value of the exhibits is much higher.
“Such a loss is equivalent to the loss of Copenhagen sculpture “The Little Mermaid” by Edward Eriksen or Amsterdam painting “Night Watch” by Rembrandt. Together with these objects, we may lose not only objects of world significance, but also the archaeological heritage that forms the basis of the cultural code of our people,” the joint statement of the Crimean museums said.
They repeatedly asked for the return of the exhibits, which “turned out to be hostages of the political situation”, and stressed that “the loss of archaeological finds will not only impoverish the collection, but will also complicate, and in many ways make impossible, the further scientific work of historians and archaeologists”.
The Kremlin also stated that they want to return the “Scythian gold”. “The question is very complicated. But, of course, we want to see the return home of these exhibits,” Peskov said.
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