Illegal annexation of Crimea: Ukraine goes to court in a bid to return Scythian gold

10:28 Sep. 13, 2016

Ukraine goes to court in a bid to return Scythian gold

A Chinese lacquer box from the first century A.D., a burial gift for a Late-Scythian woman, is displayed as part of the exhibit at Allard Pierson historical museum in Amsterdam April 4, 2014 (AP photo)

Hundreds of artefacts went to The Netherlands just before the annexation of Crimea, and never returned

Ukraine has embarked on a legal battle in a bid to return hundreds of artefacts lost after the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia.

On October 5 the Amsterdam District Court is set to hold the first hearing in a high-profile Scythian gold case.

The collection, featuring some 565 exhibits from four Crimean museums was dispatched to the Netherlands in February 2014 for the exhibition entitled "The Crimea. Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea", just before Russian sent its troops to seize Crimea.

Watch also Securing national heritage: What fate for Ukraine's cultural artefacts in occupied territories?

The artefacts were exhibited at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, but after the Crimean peninsula was illegally incorporated into the Russian Federation in March 2014, the museum decided not to return the Scythian gold to either Ukraine or Russia.


A Scythian gold helmet from the fourth century B.C. is displayed as part of the exhibit called The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea, at Allard Pierson historical museum in Amsterdam Friday April 4, 2014. The museum has gotten more than the bronze swords, golden helmets and precious gems it bargained for as it is unsure where to return the collection after Russia annexed Crimea. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Russian-appointed Crimean authorities claim the exhibits back because they have been found in the peninsula's territory and have been kept in its museums.

Ukraine, which last year was found eligible to claim rights for the disputed objects, demands the entire collection to be returned to Kyiv.

Ukrainian lawyers say the return of the collection to Ukraine was guaranteed not only by the terms of the contract, signed by Ukraine's National History Museum and Allard Pierson Museum, but also by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Since The Netherlands does not recognise the annexation of Crimea, Kyiv claims it is clear where the precious artefacts should be returned to.

Read also Ukraine slams Russia's decision to include Crimean monuments on federal property register

The Allard Pierson Museum said in a statement it had decided to not make a decision as to which of the parties the disputed objects should be handed over to:

"The Allard Pierson Museum will abide by a ruling by a qualified judge or arbitrator, or further agreement between parties. The disputed objects will be safely stored until more becomes clear."

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