On Thursday, the Federal District Court of Washington ruled that the Russian Federation should pay 50,000 dollars daily unless the so-called Schneerson library is brought back to the Hasidic movement Chabad Lubavitch. The Russian Foreign Ministry immediately threatened to take tough retaliatory measures.
On Thursday, the Federal District Court of Washington ruled that the Russian authorities should pay a daily fine of 50,000 dollars unless the collection of religious books and manuscripts known as the Schneerson library is brought back to the Hasidic movement Chabad Lubavitch, the Kommersant daily reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry threatened in retaliation that “if the Russian state property not protected by the diplomatic immunity is arrested in the United States, as Chabad demands as an injunction, Russia will have to take tough retaliatory actions.” The newspaper recalled that back in early August 2010 the trial was held in the US that has made a ruling in favour of the organization Chabad Lubavitch, because the Schneerson library passed into Russian property, according to the US court verdict, in the discriminatory way, not for public needs and without any fair compensation.
In the same year 2010, when the US court has passed the first court verdict to oblige Russia to hand over the Schneerson collection to the movement Chabad Lubavitch, Russia officially dismissed these claims, and the then Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev proposed to the Hasids to address in the Russian court in return. Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Ivliyev gave the same piece of advice on Thursday, “The library makes part of the Russian library fund, we cannot hand it over outside our country.”
In retaliation to the US court verdict in 2010 Russia has frozen up the exchange of cultural exponents with the US over the concerns for their arrest on the demands from the community Chabad Lubavitch. The Russian Culture Ministry “has been taking the measures for a long time so that there were no our cultural valuables in the US,” Grigory Ivliyev said. The proposals were earlier made to impose court sanctions in Russia and to introduce the court procedure to review the verdicts of the foreign courts in case of their deliberately broader legal powers.
In 2011 the US attempted to arrest the collection of Russian icons put on display in the country, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily recalled. Then a tense situation was settled, but since then Russia suspended any exhibitions in the US. Several major Russian museums, including the Tretyakov Art Gallery, the Museums of the Kremlin, the State Hermitage Museum had to refrain from the participation in the exhibitions in the US, in retaliation the US museums have taken similar decisions.
Deputy Director of the Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Prof. Valery Garbuzov told the newspaper that “we should deal with the Schneerson library ourselves.” He recalled that back in 1991 the RSFSR Supreme Court of Arbitration found the demands of the Hasids grounded and obliged the Lenin State Library (the Russian State Library now) to bring the collection back to them. The library did not fulfil this decision, stating that the library archives are the national heritage of the Soviet people. However, shortly after that the plenum of the Supreme Court of Arbitration cancelled the previous court verdict, and the collection remained in the Russian State Library. Moreover, the inspection found in 1995 that several manuscripts were lost. The media reported that these manuscripts were found on the black market in Israel. So, many similar detective stories happened with the Schneerson library.