Dutch court rules to hand over Crimean gold treasures to Ukraine
MOSCOW, December 14 (RAPSI) – A collection of gold artifacts from Crimea that was exhibited in a Dutch museum must be returned to Ukraine, The Amsterdam District Court ruled on Wednesday.
The court ruled that return of collection to Ukraine is partly justified since it is a “part of the cultural heritage of the country,” while arguments of Crimean museums that artefacts are a part of Crimean cultural heritage were dismissed on the grounds of neither Crimea, nor the Autonomous Republic of Crimea being sovereign states. In addition, the court noted that Crimea was part of Ukraine when collection was lent to Allard Pierson Museum.
The Amsterdam District Court recused itself from judging whether Scythian gold collection belongs to Ukraine or Crimea and ruled that this dispute is to be resolved by Ukrainian court. Both sides have three months to appeal the ruling and in those three months collection is to stay at the museum.
Ukraine was ordered to pay €111,000 to refund the costs for the temporary storage of the artefacts. Crimean museums are to pay €2,800 in legal costs to Ukraine and Allard Pierson Museum.
Russia’s Culture Ministry issued a statement condemning the court’s ruling. According to the ministry, such ruling serves as an example of cultural organization rights’ violation and destruction of collection’s unity. The ministry believes that it is also a violation of principles for exchange of exhibits between museums.
The exhibition “The Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” opened in Germany in mid-2013 and then moved to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam in early February 2014. The artifacts from five Crimean museums include a ceremonial gold helmet and jewels.
In March of 2014, Kiev demanded the gold be returned to Ukraine, not Crimea, since the latter had voted for independence and later joined Russia. Crimea, however, dismissed the demands as groundless.
The Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam decided to keep the disputed collection of Scythian Gold items until the ownership dispute is resolved either amicably or in court.
The exhibition closed in late August 2014, but the collection has not been sent back to the Crimean museums because of disputes between Ukraine and Crimea.
In November 2014, four Crimean museums filed a lawsuit with a court in Amsterdam seeking to return the Scythian gold that was exhibited in the Netherlands to Crimea.