Amsterdam court rules to return Scythian gold artifacts borrowed from Crimea to Ukraine

Crimean Tatars
Canan Kevser
26 October 2021, 15:46
Canan Kevser
26 October 2021, 15:46

The Amsterdam Court of Appeals has ruled to return the Scythian gold collection borrowed for an exhibition by a Dutch museum from Crimea to Ukraine.

The Scythian Gold artifacts were brought to Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum from four museums in Crimea and one in Kyiv in early 2014.

The pieces, including a solid gold Scythian helmet and a golden neck ornament each weighing more than a kilogram, were on display in the Netherlands when Russia occupied the Ukrainian peninsula.

"The Allard Pierson Museum is no longer obliged to return the pieces to the Crimean museums," said the court ruling on October 26, adding that "the rights of the Ukrainian state, based on the Law of Museums ... take precedence."

Zelensky praised the decision

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky praised the court decision to return Scythian gold to Ukraine, calling it a "long-awaited victory."

"The long-awaited victory in the Amsterdam Court of Appeal! 'Scythian gold' returns to Ukraine," Zelensky said on Twitter on Tuesday.

He expressed gratitude to the court for a fair decision; and to the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine for the result. 

"We always regain what is ours. After the 'Scythian gold,' we will return Crimea," the Ukrainian president said.

Background

The collection of Scythian gold had been delivered to the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam as part of the exhibition entitled “Crimea – the Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” prior to the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

On December 14, 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the exhibits of the Crimean museums had to be returned to Ukraine. The judgment was delivered pursuant to the UNESCO convention, according to which the art treasures should be returned to a sovereign state, which provided them for a temporary exhibition.

On March 28, 2017, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal received an appeal against the ruling from the representatives of Crimean museums.

On October 28, 2020, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal granted Ukraine's motion to disqualify a judge in the Scythian gold case due to confirmation of the presiding judge's link with the lawyers of Crimean museums which could indicate his bias.

On April 22, 2021, the parties held a final debate in the Amsterdam Court of Appeal the Scythian gold collection currently is in the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam.