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Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court


A Dutch court ruled Wednesday that priceless Crimean art treasures loaned to an Amsterdam museum shortly before Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014 should go back to Ukraine.

Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court
A Dutch court has ruled that a priceless collection of gold artefacts from Crimea that were on loan to a Dutch museum 
when Russia occupied the peninsula must be returned to Ukraine [Credit: emgoldex]
Four Crimean museums launched a joint legal bid in November 2014 to force the Allard Pierson Museum to return the historic collection of archaeological artefacts, displayed in an exhibition titled: "The Crimea: Gold and Secrets from the Black Sea."

Kiev also demanded their return, and the Dutch judges ruled "that the objects must go to Ukraine, the artefacts' country of origin and cultural heritage," the court said in a statement posted online.

"The claim by Crimean museums that the artefacts are Crimean heritage, or belong to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was not accepted by the judges, because neither are sovereign states," the Amsterdam regional court added.

Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court
A Scythian gold helmet from the fourth century B.C., which is part of the collection that was in limbo after Russia 
annexed Crimea [Credit: Peter Dejong/AP]
The judges however "made no ruling as to the rightful owner of the collection," saying it was a question for Ukrainian courts once the artefacts had been returned.

The parties in the case now have three months to appeal, with the treasures remaining at the Allard Pierson Museum, the judges said.

Ukraine was ordered to pay the Allard Pierson 111,000 euros ($118,000) in temporary storage costs.

Ukrainian 'victory'? 

Crimea was at the crossroads of ancient trade routes and the rich collection of items spanning the second century BC to the late medieval era was loaned to the Amsterdam museum less than a month before Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014.

Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court
A spiraling torque from the second century A.D. is displayed as part of the exhibit called The Crimea - Gold and Secrets 
of the Black Sea in 2014 at Allard Pierson historical museum in Amsterdam [Credit: Peter Dejong/AP]
Kiev says Russia illegally annexed the Black Sea territory, a month after Ukraine's Moscow-backed president was ousted in a pro-EU revolt.

It also accuses Moscow of backing the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine's industrial east in a conflict that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since April 2014.

Ukranian officials welcomed the ruling, which they hailed as a wider victory.

Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court
A Dutch court has ruled that a trove of historical artefacts that is being held by an Amsterdam museum, including this
 jewelry, must be returned to Ukraine and not to four museums in Crimea that loaned out the objects 
for an exhibition in 2014 [Credit: AP]
"The decision of the Amsterdam district court means that not only Scythian gold is Ukrainian. Crimea is also Ukrainian," President Petro Poroshenko said on his Facebook page.

"Crimea is ours, period. This follows the decision of a European country's court. We look forward to other positive news from The Netherlands," he said.

"Scythian Gold is coming back home -- to Ukraine. I'm sure, it will also return to Ukrainian Crimea. Grateful to all members of our team," tweeted Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.

Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court
This photo provided by the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam shows jewellery in the shape of a deer 
[Credit: Allard Pierson Museum via AP]
But Moscow reacted with outrage.

"Unfortunately this decision is an example of the violation of the rights of cultural institutions and the destruction of the unity of museum collections," the Russian Culture Ministry said.

"It goes against not only the contracts' provisions but also blatantly violates the principles of inter-museum exchanges and the right of the people of Crimea to their own cultural heritage," it said in a statement on its website.

Crimea treasures must be returned to Ukraine: Dutch court
This photo provided by the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam shows a statue called 'Sea Woman' 
[Credit: Allard Pierson Museum via AP]
It said the Dutch court "ignored the principle of conservation of archaeological finds in close connection with the history and culture of the place they come from," saying "the museum items must return to Crimea where they were found and where they were kept for decades and studied by archaeologists."

Earlier this week both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said they favoured extending EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

Author: Jan Hennop | Source: AFP [December 14, 2016]
TANN

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