Crimean museums launch legal bid in Holland to recover treasures
Four Crimean museums on Wednesday announced a joint legal bid to force a Dutch museum to hand back priceless treasures loaned to the art-house shortly before Russia's annexation of Crimea.
"On November 19, four Crimean museums filed a complaint before an Amsterdam court demanding that the Allard Pierson (museum) return their collection," said the director of one of the four, Andrei Malgin of the Tavrida museum in Simferopol.
Amsterdam's Allard Pierson museum in August decided not to return a historic collection of archeological artefacts on loan from the museums for an exhibition titled "The Crimea: Gold and Secrets from the Black Sea."
With the museums, now under Russian authority, and Ukraine demanding the return of the works, The Allard Pierson feared a legal tussle.
Crimea was at the crossroads of ancient trade routes and the rich collection of items spanning the 2nd century BC to the late medieval era was loaned to the Amsterdam museum less than a month before Russia annexed Crimea in March, splitting it off from Ukraine.
Malgin told AFP that under international law "the objects on display must be returned to where they were discovered and where they were preserved ... and that is the museums of Crimea."
In a joint statement the four Crimea establishments said there could be no question of choosing between Kiev or Moscow.
"The museums of Crimea are the legal owners of the objects," which have become "hostage of the political situation."
The Netherlands, like its other allies in the West, does not recognize Russia's March annexation.
© 2014 AFP