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Crimean museum director blasts court’s decision on Scythian gold as deplorable

December 14, 2016, 16:04 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Earlier on Wednesday, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold should be returned to Ukraine and not the Crimean museums

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© AP Photo/FRANKA BRUNS

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. The Dutch court’s decision concerning the return of the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine is a deplorable one, it may negatively affect cooperation between Russian museums and their foreign counterparts, Director of Crimea’s Central Museum of Tavrida Andrei Malygin told the national TV broadcaster Rossiya 24.

"This decision may have dire consequences as far as cooperation between Russian museums and their foreign counterparts goes, this situation is unlikely to build confidence between museums," Malygin noted.

He pointed out that there had never been any such precedents until this decision by the Dutch court, which would now set a precedent.

"The situation itself is a precedent as a gross violation of museums’ rights to the exhibits that had been preserved in the museums for a long time. In this case, state interests have been given priority while the museum is considered only as a keeper authorized by the state to carry out certain functions although many museums, including ours, had been established before there was any Ukrainian state. Of course, this is a very deplorable decision for us," Malygin added.

Appeal against Amsterdam's court decision

Crimea’s museums have grounds for appealing the court ruling on the Scythian gold case, lawyer Michel van Leeuwen who represented the museums’ interests in the Amsterdam District Court, told reporters on Wednesday.

"No, it’s not up to me to appeal or not, but there is no hurry. We will read carefully what the court has been saying. We will read this, we will analyze and we will see where we take this from here."

The lawyer noted that it is necessary to understand, first and foremost, "what items have been decided now by the court and which items have been left open, as there are many issues that were not decided by the court, because the court said this is to be decided in Ukraine." "But this is debatable," van Leeuwen stressed.

According to the lawyer, the court ruled that "the issue of ownership or the strength of operational management is to be decided in Ukraine." "In Ukraine itself, in Kiev, (Crimea’s) museums have no chance to prevail over Ukraine as a state. We have to consider that."

Amsterdam District Court Judge Illya Bilderbeek told reporters on Wednesday that it will take a year or more before the higher courts decide on a possible appeal against the decision to return the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine.

According to her, "there are three months to make an appeal and afterwards it will take maybe a year or more before the higher court has ruled."

The judge also said that, the artifacts would "remain in the Netherlands during the term that the parties can appeal to the higher courts" because "should the higher court make a different decision than it would be very hard for the Allard Pierson Museum to transport the artifacts to the Crimean museums once they are in Ukraine."

Earlier on Wednesday, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold should be returned to Ukraine and not the Crimean museums. According to the court, the artefacts are part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage, however, the court added that the legal owner of the exhibits should be decided by a Ukrainian court after the collection returned to the country.

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