WASHINGTON, January 17 - RAPSI. The US District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday ordered the Russian government to pay $50,000 per day until it returns to the Hassidic community a massive collection of historic books seized during the process of Soviet nationalization.
The Schneerson Library collection includes 12,000 books and 50,000 rare documents collected by a Hasidic rabbi who at the time was based in Russia's modern-day Smolensk region.
The U.S. court ruled in late July that Russia should return the Schneerson collection to the Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch organization.
The legal dispute has prevented Russian state cultural organizations from taking part in cultural exchanges, because they would be open to third-party claims. As a result, several major Russian museums have been forced to decline invitations to participate in exhibitions in the US, after which US museums replied in kind.
US District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth passed the ruling despite protests from the US Justice Department, which argued that the court cannot introduce sanctions of this kind against Russia and that this would damage US foreign policy.
The Hasidic movement's lawyers said they would demand that Russian property in the US be frozen if Russia continues to ignore the court ruling.
The US Justice and State Departments have not yet commented on the court's decisions.
Russia announced in January 2012 that it would not discuss the Schneerson Library.