Scythian artefacts return to Ukraine after decade-long court battle with Russia - Museums Association

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Scythian artefacts return to Ukraine after decade-long court battle with Russia

Items from Crimea had been on loan to Dutch museum when Russia annexed peninsula in 2014
Ukraine
A gold Scythian ceremonial helmet
A gold Scythian ceremonial helmet Allard Pierson Museum

A collection of ancient Scythian artefacts has been returned to Ukraine after an almost 10-year legal dispute with Russia over ownership rights, according to Reuters.

More than a thousand artefacts from museums in Crimea, including a solid gold Scythian helmet and golden neck ornament, were on loan to Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum when Russian troops seized and annexed the peninsula in 2014. 

Both Ukraine and the Moscow-controlled museums in Crimea claimed ownership of the collection, with the Crimean museums arguing the artefacts had to return to them due to loan terms. The Dutch supreme court backed Kyiv in a judgment earlier this year.

In a statement, the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in Kyiv, said: "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 Allard Pierson Museum has returned 565 items including ancient sculptures, Scythian and Sarmatian jewellery and Chinese lacquer boxes.

Kyiv's national museum says it will keep the items "until the de-occupation of Crimea".

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The Allard Pierson Museum said the objects had arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday.

Its director, Els van der Plas, told Reuters the dispute had been a "special case, in which cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical developments".

Sergei Aksenov, the Moscow-installed head of Crimea, said this week that the decision to return the treasures to Ukraine had been expected "because both the West and Kyiv do not care about the law".

Ukraine has accused Russia of looting thousands of cultural objects from museums and of delibrately attempting to erase Ukrainian cultural heritage since the full-scale invasion began in 2022.

Unesco has verified damage to 329 cultural heritage sites in Ukraine, including 29 museums. Earlier this month Odesa National Museum of Art was damaged in a missile strike.

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