27 Oct 2021 10:29

Investigative Committee to probe non-return of Scythian gold collection to Russia

MOSCOW. Oct 27 (Interfax) - Russian Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin has ordered to probe the non-return of the Scythian gold collection to Russia, the agency's press service said in a statement seen by Interfax on Wednesday.

"Given the exportation of cultural heritage items owned by museums in the Republic of Crimea and the ruling of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal that awarded the Scythian gold collection to Ukraine, the Russian Investigative Committee's chairman has tasked head of the Investigative Committee's main investigative department in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol [Vladimir] Terentyev with organizing a probe into the non-return of cultural values belonging to the Republic of Crimea," the statement said.

In addition, Bastrykin tasked the Investigative Committee's legal affairs and international cooperation department with acting together with the Russian Foreign Ministry in order "to assist the check and to thoroughly examine the situation," the statement said.

"Investigative bodies of the Russian Investigative Committee will duly assess the breach of Russia's interests within the legal framework," it said.

Four Crimean museums, i.e., the Kerch Historic-Cultural Reserve, which later became part of Eastern-Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum Preserve, the Central Museum of Tavrida, the Historical, Cultural, and Archaeological Museum-Reserve in Bakhchisarai, and the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, sent an exhibition called Crimea: Golden Island in the Black Sea to Bonn and then to Amsterdam in 2013.

The peninsula became part of Russia following a regional referendum in March 2014. The Netherlands' refusal to recognize its new status led to the question of where to return the collection of Scythian gold, consisting of 2,000 items, after the exhibition closed in August 2014.

The Amsterdam District Court ruled in December 2016 that the Scythian gold belonged to Ukraine and had to be returned to Kyiv.

The Crimean museums filed an appeal in January 2017. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal began hearing the appeal in March 2019 and postponed the pronouncement of its judgement several times. On October 26, the court ruled to give the collection to Ukraine.

Crimean Culture Minister Arina Novoselskaya said earlier that, while the insurance value of the Scythian gold has been estimated at around 2 million euros, the real value of the artifacts is much higher.