A priceless collection of gold artifacts from Crimea that was on loan to a Dutch museum when the Peninsula reunited with Russia must be returned to Ukraine and not Crimea, a Dutch court ruled on Wednesday in a judgment.
Kiev and the four museums have been wrangling over the fate of the archeological treasures, including gems, helmets and scabbards, which were on loan to Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum in March, 2014.
Four museums in Crimea asked for the collection to be returned, but Ukraine argued that it was state property.
The court decided that under UNESCO rules the treasures should be handed back to the sovereign state.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted: “This is an important victory for Ukraine.”
The ruling by a Dutch court to give Scythian gold to Ukraine violates international law and the principles of inter-museum exchanges, the items should be returned to Crimea where they had been discovered and kept for decades, the Russian Culture Ministry said in response.
“Unfortunately, the decision is an example of violation of the rights of cultural institutions and destruction of the unity of museum collections. It contradicts not only the provisions of the contracts, but also grossly violates the principles of international inter-museum exchanges and the right of the Crimean people to access their own cultural heritage,” the Russian ministry said.