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Crimea to continue legal battle for Scythian gold

"We will never give up our struggle for Crimea’s right to these exhibits," Crimean head Sergey Aksyonov said

MOSCOW, December 13 /TASS/. Crimea will continue to fight for Scythian gold irrespective of an Amsterdam court decision expected on December 14, the region’s head Sergey Aksyonov told journalists.

"We will never give up our struggle for Crimea’s right to these exhibits. We will go ahead with our efforts together with the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Ministry of Culture. We have shaped our judicial and legal stances. It is hard for me to say how the situation is going to unfold. We will do everything within our power," Aksyonov added.

He said that in disputes, Western institutions always tried to take the side of any party, except the Russian side. "But these are their problems," Aksyonov added.

He said that any "responsible individuals" who might emerge in Western counties would certainly understand that the standpoint that the Scythian gold belonged to Ukraine would be non-constructive.

Museums hope to win case

Four Crimean museums which seek to return their Scythian gold collections from Amsterdam hope to win the case and are ready to appeal the verdict if they lose, Tatyana Umrikhina, director-general of the East-Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum told journalists on Tuesday.

"We certainly hope to win. But no matter what happens, we have an opportunity to appeal the verdict if anything goes wrong," Umrikhina told TASS.

She said that a lawyer defending the Crimean museums’ interests was expected to arrive on the peninsula from the Netherlands on December 16, two days after the verdict is supposed to be announced, to discuss any further action necessary for returning the collection.

"We hope for the prudence and good judgement (by the Amsterdam judges -TASS). We were satisfied with the work done by our Dutch attorney who based his arguments on international law. We are also satisfied with the court session, the result of which was favorable for us. The Ukrainian delegation’s behavior, however, was undiplomatic," Umrikhina stressed.

Litigation history

The uncertainty over the Scythian gold collection, which was put on view at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam in February 2014 when Crimea was still part of Ukraine, arose after the peninsula had reunited with Russia in March 2014. Both Russia and Ukraine claimed their rights to the exhibits.

The collection of Scythian gold exhibits has been kept by the Amsterdam University archaeological museum (the Allard Pierson Museum) for more than two years. The Dutch are seeking a court solution. Their argument is that one of the parties will object to the verdict whoever gets the collection back. If the exhibits return to Crimea, Ukraine, which considers the exhibits to be part of its national museum fund, will further pursue the case in court. If the exhibits are turned over to Kiev, numerous lawsuits from the Crimean museums, which had sent the collection to Amsterdam, will follow.

The Crimean museums have claimed their full right to the Scythian gold collection many times on the grounds that all the exhibits were found on Crimea’s territory and were stored in the peninsula’s museums.