The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled on October 26 that the collection of Scythian gold taken previously from Crimea should be transferred to Ukraine. The presiding judge, Pauline Hofmeijer-Rutten, said the artefacts in question were part of Ukraine’s cultural heritage and must be handed over to the Ukrainian side.
Scythian gold is a collection of more than 2 thousand items that were used to decorate the exhibition “Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, held from February to August 2014 at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. An uncertain situation arose after the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March 2014. Both, Crimean museums and Ukraine, have claimed their rights to the exhibits. The University of Amsterdam suspended the procedure for transferring valuables until an agreement was reached between the parties.
However, the last decision of the court in Amsterdam to transfer the collection of Scythian gold to Ukraine doesn’t seem to be “an agreement”, just the opposite – it was taken in a politicized context and should be challenged in the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, as stated by the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoi. In his opinion, the trial took place in a “politicized, anti-Russian atmosphere,” and this context influenced the decision.
“From my point of view, this conflict is of an inter-museum nature. If the items were taken from one of the museums, then they should have been returned there – so the agreement stated, but this is a formal way. In addition, the Dutch themselves recognized at the time that there is no such legal norm in Dutch legislation that can describe the situation that has developed with Scythian gold,” Shvydkoi added.
Anyway, the efforts for securing the return of the Scythian Gold collection to Crimea must go on, according to the Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Axenov.
“Scythian gold was found in the Crimean land, where it has lain for many hundreds of years, these values are an integral part of the historical and cultural heritage of Crimea, the property of all Crimeans, they should be returned to the funds of Crimean museums. This is required by both law and justice. But the court, as it seems, does not care about the first and the second. It preferred to be guided not by law, but by politics and followed the hysterical demands of the Kiev regime representatives,” wrote Axenov in his VK post.
He expressed strong confidence that “the struggle for the return to the homeland of values that rightfully belong to the peoples of Crimea must go on”.
According to the Crimean republic’s envoy to the Russian President, Georgy Muradov, the Scythian gold collection should actually be returned to Crimea as these artefacts were unearthed in Crimea and were exhibited in Crimean museums afterwards.
“It is about the Crimean people’s right to its historical heritage, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions. We proceed from the fact that these items were unearthed in Crimea and placed with Crimean museums, so, they must be brought back to where they belong,” he stated.
According to Muradov, the people in Crimea will never put up with the loss of their historical treasures. He promised that in case the collection is handed over to Kiev, Crimean activists will demand it be immediately returned to Crimean museums and they will expect international organizations to support them on this matter.
In addition, the First Deputy Speaker of Crimea’s parliament, Yefim Fiks, said that the Scythian gold collection has nothing to do with Ukraine as it had been brought from Crimea, not from Ukraine.
“It is very sad that the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, which positions itself as the most humane, fair and unbiased, has demonstrated obvious political bias and complete a lack of objectiveness,” he concluded.