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Russian Foreign Ministry: Amsterdam court ruling on Scythian gold sets dangerous precedent

Such decision calls into question further prospects of inter-museum cooperation, the ministry's Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stressed

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. The Amsterdam court’s judgment on the Scythian gold exhibits has set a dangerous precedent and called into question future cooperation between museums, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The verdict of Amsterdam’s Court of Appeal sets an extremely dangerous precedent that undermines trust between museum communities of a variety of countries and calls into question further prospects of inter-museum cooperation, including between Russia and the Netherlands. It is regrettable," she said.

Zakharova emphasized that handing the Scythian gold collection belonging to Crimean museums over to Ukraine was exclusively a politically motivated decision.

"Until the last moment we hoped that at least the area of culture would remain outside of politics. However, with Ukraine’s participation in the dispute as a third party, the museum exchanges have turned into an arena of political confrontation," she said.

"Guided solely by political motives, the Dutch judges totally ignored the indisputable fact that the Scythian gold is a cultural and historic heritage of the peoples of the Crimean Peninsula, where those artifacts were found and which they have never left," she said.

On October 26, Amsterdam’s Court of Appeal ruled that the Scythian gold collection had to be handed over to Ukraine. The court said that the artifacts were part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage and must be handed over to the Ukrainian state. Russia said it would file a cassation appeal.

About the Scythian gold collection

The exhibition ‘Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea’ consisting of over 2,000 exhibits from the Scythian Gold collection went on display at the Allard Pierson Museum of the University of Amsterdam between February and August 2014. After the peninsula reunited with Russia in March 2014, uncertainty over the collection arose as both Russia and Ukraine claimed the exhibits. In this regard, the University of Amsterdam suspended the collection’s handover until either the dispute is legally resolved or the parties come to terms.

In December 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the Scythian gold be returned to Ukraine based on Dutch laws and international regulations. In March 2017, Crimea’s museums launched an appeal to fight the decision. In March 2019, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal reversed the district court’s ruling but did not determine the collection’s ownership.