The Dutch Allard Pierson Museum handed over a prized collection of Scythian gold to Ukraine despite protests from Russia
A vast collection of Crimean gold jewelry and antiquities that was handed over to Ukraine by the Netherlands after a lengthy legal battle should have instead been returned to the Russian peninsula, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.
The saga of the so-called Scythian gold collection kicked off in 2013 when four Crimean museums sent hundreds of artifacts – including ceremonial helmets, gemstones, and ancient swords dating from the 6th century BC to the 7th century AD – to the Netherlands to be displayed in Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum.
Following a Western-backed coup in Kiev in 2014 and Crimea’s historic vote to join Russia, authorities in both Ukraine and Crimea laid claim to the treasures and demanded their return. In 2016, a court in the Netherlands – a country that has not recognized Crimea as part of Russia – ruled that the collection must be handed over to Ukraine, with Moscow appealing the verdict.
At the time, Russia’s Ministry of Culture insisted that the court’s ruling was in violation of international law, given that the artifcats were found on the peninsula’s territory and had been kept there for decades. In June 2023, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands rejected the appeal.
On Monday, Kiev’s customs service announced that a truck loaded with 2,694kg of “Scythian gold” had arrived at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, the capital’s iconic Orthodox monastery. Meanwhile, the National Museum of the History of Ukraine said it would store the precious items “until the deoccupation of Crimea.”
Commenting on the development, Peskov said that “the Scythian gold belongs to Crimea and should be kept there.” Meanwhile, the head of the Crimean republic, Sergey Aksenov, suggested that the peninsula would be able to recover the treasures only once Russia had achieved the goals of its military operation against Kiev.
He also warned that the “Scythian gold” could face a bleak future from a cultural point of view, suggesting that many items could potentially end up in private collections.
Last month, the Spanish police said five people had been arrested who were allegedly trying to sell 11 Greco-Scythian artifacts valued at around €60 million ($65 million). These were believed to have been stolen from Ukraine in 2016. However, several experts suggested at the time that the works of art could have been fake and created specifically for private collectors.
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