The Scythians’ gold treasures belong to Ukraine, must be returned to Kiev, as follows from a verdict presiding judge Dudok van Heel read out at a session of the Amsterdam district court on Wednesday.
The court ruled that only sovereign countries could claim objects as cultural heritage. Since only Ukraine, not Crimea, was sovereign, it was for a Ukrainian court to adjudicate the competing ownership claims.
"Ownership questions have to be settled when they have been returned to the state and in accordance with the law of the state in question. The Allard Pierson Museum must return the treasures to Kiev," Mieke Dudok van Heel said.
The Crimean museums have three months to appeal the ruling, Reuters reports.
Director of the Leo Tolstoy State Museum, Sergey Arkhangelov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, explained that Scythian artifacts are owned by the museum. As to the question whether Russia has the opportunity to overturn the decision, the expert assured that such an outcome is quite likely.
"I think that, of course, they will be playing for time. But still, we will submit to a court, to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, for example. These are just property disputes between economic entities," the director of the Leo Tolstoy State Museum said.
"Today's decision of the District Court of Amsterdam in no way corresponds to the inter-museum communication and the International Council of Museums I repeat once again: there is a museum, in which funds these items are listed, then they belong to this museum. This situation meets the Russian legislation on museums and museum collections," Sergey Arkhangelov summed up.
The Director of the Diplomatic Resolution of International Controversies Center of the Russian Academy of Economy and State Administration, ad hoc judge of the European Court for Human Rights, Dmitry Matveyev, is also confident that justice in the matter of Scythian gold can be achieved through the court.
"Crimean museums will appeal - this is the next step. The international courts are not needed in this case, they need to pass the internal appeal procedure at first, and only then they can think about the international courts," the expert believes.
"Firstly, theoretically Russia has the ability to overturn the decision of the District Court of Amsterdam. That is why I think we should use it," Dmitry Matveev concluded.