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Russian culture minister calls Dutch court ruling on Scythian gold unprecedented

According to the court decision, the Allard Pierson Museum is to dispatch the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine, which it deems to be part of the country’s cultural heritage

MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said on Monday the court decision on Scythian gold was unprecedented, as it deprived museums of their collections.

"The decision of a Dutch court is unprecedented, as this means that museums are practically deprived of their ownership, their collection," the minister told reporters, saying no courts have given such rulings since World War II times.

Medinsky said the Russian Federation acting through the Ministry of Culture was not taking part in legal proceedings concerning Scythian gold as Crimean museums were a party to the lawsuit.

Court Ruling

According to the decision handed down by the Amsterdam District Court, the Allard Pierson Museum is to dispatch the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine, which it deems to be part of the country’s cultural heritage. The court’s verdict is based on the 1970 UNESCO Convention on cultural heritage.

The court refused to hand down any decisions on the exhibits’ ownership since both sides had claimed their right to the artefacts. That is why the court ruled that a Ukrainian court should study the case after the collection arrives in Ukraine.

The collection may remain in the Netherlands over the course of the next three months during which the Russian side can appeal the court’s ruling. The appellation procedures may last for a year or longer, Illya Bilderbeek, the judge who handled the case, said. The court also ruled that the Ukrainian government should pay 111,000 euros to the Allard Pierson Museum for storing the treasures for more than 2 years.

The exhibits were part of the "Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea" collection, which was on view at the Allard Pierson Museum from February to August 2014.

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 collection. The Crimean museums claimed their full right to the Scythian gold many times on the grounds that all the exhibits were found on Crimea’s territory and were stored in the peninsula’s museums. That said, the University of Amsterdam suspended the procedure of returning the artefacts until a legal decision was passed or until the sides reached a settlement agreement.