Ukraine has won a decades-long legal battle over ancient treasures

Ancient Treasures of Ukraine / Photo Museum Allard Pearson Amsterdam

A historic collection of ancient treasures has finally been returned to Ukraine, after a nearly 10-year dispute over its ownership with Russia, Kiev said. 565 objects – including Scythian and Sarmatian jewelery and sculptures – are said to have returned from the Netherlands.

The collection, mainly from the museums of Crimea, was loaned to the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam when Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014. Both Ukraine and Russia demanded the items back, but the Dutch courts sided with Kiev, it reports BBC.

In a statement on Monday, the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in Kyiv announced: "After nearly 10 years of court hearings, artifacts from four Crimean museums that were featured in the Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea exhibition in Amsterdam have been returned to Ukraine." . It added that the collection, which includes bronze swords, golden helmets and precious stones, will be kept in the museum until the "deoccupation of Crimea".

Ukraine's SBU security service released a video on Monday showing what it said was a 2.694-kilogram truckload of artifacts to be identified in Kyiv.

The Allard Pearson Museum said the items, which were "independently checked and carefully packed in accordance with museum rules" last month, arrived in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday.

Its director Els van der Plas described it as "a special case, in which cultural heritage has become a victim of geopolitical developments". The Crimean museums where they were originally kept – supported by Moscow – unsuccessfully argued that the artifacts should be returned to the peninsula.

A Dutch appeals court ruled in 2021 that the treasures belong to Ukraine and not to a specific museum. The country's highest court agreed with that decision in an announcement earlier this year.

"This decision puts an end to this dispute. The Allard Pearson Museum must return these art treasures to the state of Ukraine, not to the museums of Crimea," the Supreme Court said in a ruling in June.

This allowed them to be returned to the history museum in Kyiv. Sergei Aksenov, the Russian-appointed head of Crimea, said on Monday that the Dutch move to return Ukrainian treasures was expected "because both the West and Kiev do not care about the law".

He added that the issue will be resolved only when the "goals of the special military operation" set by Russian President Vladimir Putin are achieved. Aksenov was referring to the full-scale invasion of Russia launched against Ukraine by the Kremlin leader in February 2022.

Meanwhile, Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted by Russian state media as saying the collection "belongs to Crimea, it should be there."

The artifacts were borrowed from five museums: four in Crimea and one in Kyiv. These include a gold Scythian ceremonial helmet dating from the 4th century BC. and other treasures from the era when the ancient Greeks colonized the Crimea.

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