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Verdict in Scythian Gold case shatters trust towards international courts — legislator

According to Viktor Vodolatsky, the decision made in Amsterdam does not match a single article of international legislation

SIMFEROPOL, October 26. /TASS/. Tuesday's verdict by the Amsterdam court of appeal to hand over to Ukraine the Scythian Gold collection from Crimean museums shatters trust towards international courts. Should they be transferred to Ukraine, the treasures may be stolen, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma's committee on CIS affairs, European integration and relations with compatriots, Viktor Vodolatsky, told TASS on Tuesday.

"The decision made in Amsterdam does not match a single article of international legislation. This is an entirely politicized affair. Too bad international courts today are involved in a campaign that is booming in Europe these days - a campaign that can be briefly called Anti-Russia. As a result there follows chaos in international relations and in the agreements and treaties that are being signed today.

Vodolatsky recalled that the Scythian Gold collection was a property of Crimean museums.

"It had been in the Crimean museums before the illegal handover of the Crimean Region from the Russian Soviet Socialist Federative Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954," Vodolatsky recalled. "If only international lawyers had taken a closer look in court at all the documents, and I believe they did study them closely enough, they would have returned the collection to its legal owners with 100-percent certainty. But politics intervened." He stressed that US pressure forced the Dutch court to pronounce a verdict in Crimea's favor.

About the prospects for the valuables' return to Crimea Vodolatsky said that the current Ukrainian authorities needed the assets first and foremost to deal with economic problems. He even warned that after the handover the gold items might be stolen.

"The Ukrainian leadership does not hesitate to trade any asset, it uses any item that is of some value as a collateral to borrow from international lending organizations, to obtain loans to survive somehow," Vodolatsky said. "I suspect that some politicians in Kiev have already had an idea of making forged replicas of the gold artefacts and of selling or stealing the real ones."

Scythian Gold collection

The Scythian Gold is a collection of more than 2,000 items that were put on display at an exhibition at the Allard Pierson Museum of the University of Amsterdam in February 2014 when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. Uncertainty over the collection's future emerged when Crimea reunited with Russia in March 2014. Crimea’s museums and Ukraine both laid claim to the collection. The University of Amsterdam, which oversees the Allard Pierson Museum's activities, put the handover procedure on hold until either the dispute was legally resolved or the parties came to terms.

In December 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold treasures be returned to Ukraine in accordance with Dutch legislation and international law. At the same time, the judge refused to decide on ownership, noting that this issue should be resolved after the collection returns to Ukraine.

In March 2017, the Crimean museums filed an appeal against this decision. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal issued an interim judgment overturning the District Court's one in March 2019. However, the judge did not resolve the ownership issue, requesting additional documents from the parties. In October 2020, at the request of the Ukrainian side, the court disqualified Judge Duco Oranje from hearing a lawsuit and appointed Gerard Levin.