Russian culture ministry to strike back at US over Schneerson Library
- Russia may sue US Chassids for failure to return religious texts
- Chassidic sect won't insist on freeze of Russian assets in America
- U.S. verdict on Schneersohn collection has no legal value, Foreign Ministry
- US court orders Russia to pay $50k per day until it returns religious books
- U.S. court defies Soviet nationalization of Schneerson Library
MOSCOW, February 8 - RAPSI. The Russian Foreign Ministry has recommended that the Ministry of Culture and the Russian State Library appeal to the courts and fine the US Library of Congress for failing to return seven books from the Schneerson Collection which Moscow lent to Washington as part of an interlibrary loan in 1994, the Kommersant daily reports.
Deputy Director of the Russian State Library Alexander Samarin told the paper that the seven books in Hebrew were published in the Russian Empire in the 19th century. He said that although they are not one of a kind, they are nevertheless very valuable and rare.
The collection belongs to Russia's Library Fund and is known as the Schneerson Library. It appears that Russia may demand a larger fine than the US ordered Russia to pay last month.
On January 16, a US District of Columbia Court ordered Russia to pay $50,000 per day in fines until it returned the religious books and manuscripts collected by Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned in late January that Moscow's response to the US court decision on the Schneerson Library would be tough. He said the US court decision was "outrageous" and unjust.
"Russia lent these books to the Hasidim for a few months out of goodwill. This was ten years ago. The books have still not been returned. It is probably time to take this issue to court," Lavrov said at a news conference on the 2012 foreign political results.
Russia's Foreign Ministry began to prepare its concrete response measures several days ago, according to Kommersant. The Ministry of Culture and the Russian State Library could not clarify the steps they planned to take.
Washington hopes to prevent the escalation of the conflict.
Schneerson was forced to leave the Soviet Union in 1927. He took his collection of books with him to Latvia and then to Poland, where he left it after Nazi Germany attacked Poland. The books were then taken to Germany and later confiscated by the Red Army. Yitzchok Schneerson died in 1950 without leaving any instructions as to the future of his book collection.