| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Ancient artefacts returned to Ukraine after long dispute with Russia

Ancient Scythian artefacts from museums in Russian-occupied Crimea have been restored to Ukraine following a legal fight over ownership rights that lasted over a decade in the Netherlands, according to a Ukrainian museum on Monday.

When Russian troops invaded and annexed the peninsula in 2014, more than a thousand artifacts, including a solid gold Scythian helmet and golden neck decoration, were on loan to Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum.

Both Ukraine and the museums located on the Moscow-controlled territory claimed ownership rights to the pieces when the exhibition ended. The items date from when the Scythian people lived in the area between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC.

“After almost 10 years of court hearings, artefacts from four Crimean museums that were presented at the exhibition ‘Crimea: gold and secrets of the Black Sea’ in Amsterdam have returned to Ukraine,” the National Museum of History of Ukraine said.

It said the Allard Pierson Museum had returned 565 items including ancient sculptures, Scythian and Sarmatian jewellery and Chinese lacquer boxes.

It said the collection would be stored in the museum until the de-occupation of Crimea.

The Allard Pierson Museum said the artefacts had been returned to Kyiv on Sunday.

“This was a special case, in which cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical developments,” said Els van der Plas, director of the Allard Pierson. “We are pleased that clarity has emerged and that they have now been returned.”

In June, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled the items should be returned to Ukraine. Kyiv sees the artefacts as part of its national heritage, while the Moscow-controlled museums said they had to return to the peninsula due to loan terms.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by TASS state news agency as saying the artefacts “belong to Crimea and should be there”.

The Moscow-installed governor of the peninsula, in comments on Telegram, suggested they should be returned by “achieving the goals of the special military operation”, Russia’s official title for its war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian customs services reported on Monday that a truck carrying “2,694 kg of cultural property” entered the 980 year-old Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery complex, where a further identification process would take place.

  • Reuters