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Russia says Dutch court decision on Scythian gold is against norms of international law

Earlier on Wednesday, a district court of Amsterdam ruled that the collection of the Scythian gold must be returned to Kiev

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. The ruling of Amsterdam’s district court on returning the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine violates the principles of international inter-museum exchange, Russia’s Culture Ministry said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, a district court of Amsterdam ruled that the collection of the Scythian gold consisting of more than 2,000 items must be returned to Kiev, and not to the Crimean museums. The sides have up to three months to file the appeal against the ruling.

The decision "is a very negative precedent that was taken against the norms of international law on protection of cultural values," the ministry said. "After considering the case for two years, the court passed a judgement to satisfy Ukraine’s lawsuit on handing over the exhibits to Kiev and refuse to return the museum items to Crimea’s museums," the press service said.

This decision is an example of "violating the rights of culture institutions and destroying the unity of museum collections." "It does not only contradict the provisions of contracts but blatantly violates the principles of international inter-museum exchange and the right of the Crimean people to have access to their own cultural heritage."

The ministry stressed that the "court ignored the principle of keeping archaeological finds in indissoluble connection with history and culture of a location where they come from." It believes the museum items should be returned to Crimea where they had been found, stored for decades and studied by scientists.

Crimea’s museums will appeal the Dutch court’s decision, the republic’s Culture Minister Arina Novoselskaya earlier told TASS.

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 Amsterdam University suspended the procedure of handing over the gold collection until the dispute was solved.

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.