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Culture Ministry: Netherlands to return Scythian gold from annexed Crimea to Ukraine

by Nate Ostiller November 22, 2023 1:04 PM 1 min read
A Scythian sword with Sheath from the 6th-5th cent. BC, found in the collection of Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Simferopol, in occupied Crimea. (Photo for illustrative purposes) (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
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The Netherlands will return to Ukraine ancient Crimean Scythian artifacts that it has held since Russia's illegal annexation of the peninsula in 2014, Ukraine's Ministry of Culture and Information Policy reported on Nov. 22.

Ukrainian Culture Minister Rostyslav Karandieiev has signed an agreement with Dr. Fred Virmen, acting director of the University Library of the University of Amsterdam, finalizing their return, the ministry announced.

The artifacts were on loan to the Allard Pierson Museum of Antiquities in Amsterdam when Russia illegally seized Crimea in 2014, and both Ukraine and museums in now occupied Crimea claimed them once the exhibition in Amsterdam ended.

As the museum awaited a final legal decision on what to do with the artifacts, it kept them in storage.

The museums in occupied Crimea that had originally lent the Scythian artifacts to the Netherlands claimed that the terms of the loan were violated and that they should return to their place of origin, politics aside.

On the other side, Ukraine said that the items legally belonged to Ukraine and that the Netherlands recognized that Crimea was sovereign Ukrainian territory, so there was no reason for the artifacts to be returned there.

A long legal battle followed, with Dutch courts ruling several times that the artifacts should return to Ukraine.

The Dutch Supreme Court concurred, ruling in June 2023 that they should be returned to Kyiv.

In addition, the Allard Pierson Museum said that it would not charge Ukraine for 9 years of storage fees.

In August 2023, Ukraine's Culture Ministry reported that at least 763 cultural heritage sites in Ukraine had been damaged by Russian forces. Other ancient items were allegedly looted from occupied Crimea in May 2023.

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