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Crimean museums owned Scythian gold before Ukraine’s independence, expert says

On Tuesday, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal postponed a verdict in the Scythian gold case, requesting the parties to provide further information

SIMFEROPOL, July 19. /TASS/. Crimean museums had received most items from the disputed Scythian gold collection before Ukraine declared independence, Director of the Central Museum of Tavrida Andrei Malgin told TASS. He pointed out that according to international rules, the Dutch museum where the items are being kept should return them to the parties that provided the treasures for an exhibition.

On Tuesday, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal postponed a verdict in the Scythian gold case, requesting the parties to provide further information, particularly on the ownership rights. According to the Court, the parties have been given two months to provide the requested information. "A final judgment may be expected in six to nine months’ time," the Court pointed out. Until then, the Scythian gold collection will remain at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam.

"Our main argument is that these items were unearthed in Crimea and were kept in Crimean museums so Crimea has stronger ownership rights. We insist that this is part of the Crimean people’s cultural heritage. Crimean museums have owned a large number of the items since the Soviet era or even since pre-revolutionary times," Malgin noted.

According to him, Crimean museums have documents proving that they owned these treasures long before Ukraine became independent.

Malgin pointed out that not a whole collection but various items from different museums had been sent to the Netherlands to be displayed. At the time of the exhibition, the items formally belonged to Ukraine’s Museum Collections but were kept in Crimea. Even after world wars, many treasures returned to the museums from which they had been taken away, Malgin emphasized.

Scythian gold issue

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.

The Central Museum of Tavrida, the Kerch Historical and Cultural Preserve, the Bakhchysarai Historical and Cultural Preserve and the Chersonesus Historical and Cultural Preserve are among the museums whose items are being kept in Amsterdam. Items provided for the exhibition by a Kiev museum, were returned to Ukraine in September 2016.

In December 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold treasures be returned to Ukraine. The Crimean museums filed an appeal against this decision.