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Crimea wants to see Scythian gold back because Kiev is unable to protect these exhibits

August 23, 2014, 1:57 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL
Four Crimean museums that loaned the collection of ancient cultural items on the basis of lease contracts believe that the exhibits should return to them
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© ITAR-TASS/Vitaly Chugin

SIMFEROPOL, August 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Crimea is ready to give up part of its cultural heritage in swap for the Scythian gold collection which is currently on view in Amsterdam.

Andrei Malgin, director of the Tavrida Central Museum, told Itar-Tass that ancient artifacts had been found during excavations at the Nogaichinsky Kurgan in steppe Crimea in the 1970s. The archeologist handed over his archaeological findings to Kiev. These exhibits from the Ukrainian Museum of Historical Valuables are also part of “Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” exhibition in the Netherlands.

“These things are very beautiful. They date back to a period of late antiquity. They are also part of Crimean cultural heritage,” Malgin said.

“But Crimea might give up its claim to these things if Kiev leaves what belongs to us in peace. Otherwise, I do not see how we can reach a compromise,” Malkin stressed.

Earlier this week, the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam decided to leave the disputed “Scythian gold” collection in the Netherlands until a qualified judge passes a decision or the sides reach a kind of compromise.

The exhibits have been claimed both by Kiev and Crimea but the Allard Pierson Museum is still at a loss to where they should be returned.

“Until recently, the museum has failed to pass any decision or meet the demands of either of the sides,” the museum said in its press release last Wednesday.

The four Crimean museums that loaned the collection of ancient cultural items on the basis of lease contracts believe that the exhibits should return to them. Ukraine’s Culture Ministry, however, claims that these exhibits are the state property (of Ukraine) and should, therefore, be returned to Kiev.

“As it was mentioned in previous statements, the situation is unique and extremely complicated. Therefore, the museum deems it necessary to study the problems in detail and find a way out of the situation,” the museum said.

The Allard Pierson’s Museum has by now studied the legislation and international treaties under which the “Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” exhibition went to Amsterdam.

Malgin said that the Dutch museum’s decision was not unexpected for the Crimean residents. He believes that any decision, including a court one, to hand over the exhibits to Ukraine would be unacceptable. He recalled how Ukrainian troopers had shelled a museum in Donetsk damaging its exhibits.

“This fact speaks for itself. It shows how the Ukrainian authorities care for museum exhibits. I do hope that (the Scythian gold) will not be handed over to Kiev. Ukraine is not in a position to ensure the safety of museum exhibits. It would be absolutely impossible to hand over any new exhibits to it under these circumstances,” Malgin told Itar-Tass.

The Amsterdam University’s Allard Pierson Museum has been hosting the exhibition titled ‘Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea’ since February 2014. It consists of exhibits loaned by a museum in Kiev and four museums in Crimea, which was a region of Ukraine back the time the items of the collection were consigned to the Netherlands.

Over 550 items that are on show in Amsterdam include pieces of goldsmithery, weapons and household appliances revealing the rich history of the Crimean peninsula.

The problem of where to return the artifacts sprang up immediately after Crimea’s reunification with Russia on March 18, 2014. The Amsterdam museum has obligations both to the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and the Crimean museums which are now in the territory of Russia.

“Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” exhibition will be open in Amsterdam until August 31.

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