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Russia sets up new expert council to return Scythian gold collection

January 16, 12:52 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL

Crimea’s representatives have said on various occasions that they have every right to claim the artifacts since they all had been unearthed on Crimean territory and had been kept in Crimea’s museums

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© Vitaly Chugin/TASS

SIMFEROPOL, January 16. /TASS/. A new expert council has been established in Russia in order to return the Scythian gold collection from Amsterdam to the Crimean museums, General Director of the Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Preserve Tatyana Umrikhina told reporters on Tuesday.

Apart from the Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Preserve, the Central Museum of Tavrida, the Bakhchysarai Historical and Cultural Preserve and the Chersonesus Historical and Cultural Preserve are among those museums whose items are currently kept in Amsterdam.

According to Umrikhina, in order to return the Scythian gold collection to Crimea, "a new expert council has been established." "The Justice Ministry is now supervising these activities instead of the Culture Ministry, we are represented by Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Muradov," she said, adding that it was the Crimean museums’ duty to fight for the return of the Scythian gold collection to the Peninsula.

Umrikhina also said that the museums had worked out a new method of defense, hiring three new lawyers. "In addition to the lawyer that we had before, there are now three new ones… We very much hope that the new defense method will prove effective and the court will be willing to assess all the circumstances," she noted.

In late December 2017, Ukrainian Culture Minister Yevgeny Nishchuk told reporters and the Amsterdam Court would begin to hear the appeal on the Scythian gold case in February 2018.

According to the Crimean museums, the appeal will be heard in spring. "The exact date has not been announced, it was said that it would happen this year, presumably in March or April," Umrikhina said.

Legal battle

As TASS reported earlier, on December 14, 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold treasures should be returned to Ukraine and not the Crimean museums. The Crimean museums filed an appeal against the court’s decision.

The Scythian gold collection from the Crimean museums was put on view at the Allard Pierson Museum of the University of Amsterdam in February 2014 when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. However, after the peninsula reunited with Russia in March 2014, an uncertainty over the collection arose as both Russia and Ukraine claimed the exhibits. In this regard, the University of Amsterdam suspended the handover until either the dispute is legally resolved or the parties come to terms.

Crimea’s representatives have said on various occasions that they have every right to claim the artifacts since they all had been unearthed on Crimean territory and had been kept in Crimea’s museums.

The court also ruled that Ukraine must pay €111,000 to the Allard Pierson Museum in compensation for the cost of storing and insuring the collection. Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko said in this connection that the money would be transferred after the final verdict was announced.

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