18 January 2019, 12:49

Russia will continue to delay the process on Scythian gold. Ministry of Culture told about an inside from the Crimean museums


Russia is actually preparing to a loss at the March court hearing in Amsterdam on the Scythian gold, but does not abandon its intention to delay the unpromising legal process by submitting a cassation.

This opinion was expressed by the First Deputy Minister of Culture of Ukraine Svitlana Fomenko at the final press conference of the Ministry, the correspondent of QHA media reports.

Fomenko recalled that on March 11 in Amsterdam, the appeal of the Russian side to the court decision, adopted in December 2016, will be considered, which ruled to transfer the collection of the Scythian gold to Ukraine.

We already have information that the so-called “Crimean museums” are hiring advisers, namely, lawyers who deal with purely cassation matters. That is, they are already waiting for their not winning, and are getting ready for the cassation stage.

The Ministry of Culture does not predict whether the trial will take a long time, since there are certain procedures in the process. For example, after an appeal hearing in March, two months will be provided for the court to make its decision.

According to Fomenko, it is difficult to predict the return date of the collection to Ukraine. Having adopted a decision in favor of Ukraine in December 2016, the court did not simultaneously recognize the need to immediately implement it. Therefore, “Scythian gold” is still stored in the Netherlands.

“The Netherlands practice has no such examples when a court decision is subject to immediate execution. No such decision was made during the first hearing and, unfortunately, we will not receive it during the appeal proceedings,” Svetlana Fomenko said.

Why Scythian gold was in Europe

In 2013-2014 Ukraine held exhibitions in Europe where collections from the funds of Kyiv and Crimean museums were displayed. Until January 19, 2014 an exhibition entitled “Crimea: A golden island in the Black Sea. Greeks-Scythians-Goths” was exhibited in Bonn, Germany. After being transported to the Netherlands, it opened under the title “Crimea – the Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” at the Allard Pearson Archaeological Museum, which operates at the University of Amsterdam.

The props were sent for an exhibit by the Kyiv Museum of Historical Treasures of the National Museum of History of Ukraine and four museums from the Crimea – the National Preserve Chersonesos of Tavria, the Bakhchysarai Historical and Cultural Preserve, the Kerch State Historical and Cultural Preserve, the Central Museum of Tavrida (Simferopol). Among the exhibits provided are a ceremonial Scythian helmet, artifacts from the collection of “Scythian gold”, swords, armor, household items of ancient Greek and Scythian origin.

The exhibition was supposed to continue until May 28, 2014. However, after the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine appealed to the government of the Netherlands with a request to return the exposition not to museums of the occupied Crimea, but to museums in mainland Ukraine, since the artifacts belong to Ukraine as a state. At the same time, the Crimean museums demanded to return the exhibits to their funds.

The authorities of the Netherlands decided not to return the collection to any of sides and extended the exhibition for three months in order to give the parties an opportunity to resolve the issue through negotiations. However, in the fall of 2014, the Crimean museums appealed to the Amsterdam court demanding the return the exhibits. The position of the Crimean museums was supported by the Russian State Duma, as well as the leadership of the Hermitage. Court hearings began in Amsterdam in January 2015.

In September 2014, 20 exhibits returned from the Netherlands to the National Museum of the History of Ukraine, which were displayed at the exhibition. Two months later, the exhibition was dismantled, 565 exhibits are still in the repository of the Allard Pearson Museum.

So far, litigation is in favor of Ukraine. In December 2016, the Amsterdam District Court decided to transfer the collection to Ukraine, but did not decide that this should happen immediately. Therefore, part of the collection of the Crimean museums will remain in storage in the Netherlands at the stage of appeal proceedings. It should be noted that Ukraine requires the return of 565 items from the amount of 2011 storage units to the territory of Ukraine. The decision of the court of first instance also said that Ukraine must pay 111 thousand euros for the storage of the collection.

In August 2017, the Crimean museums filed an appeal against the decision of the Amsterdam District Court, and in March 2018 Ukraine filed its objections to this complaint. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered the case to be considered on March 11, 2019.