The Amsterdam Court of Appeal will deliver its final judgement on the case of the Scythian Gold collection, on loan at the Allard Pierson Museum of the University of Amsterdam from museums in Crimea, today.
The collection was put on display in Amsterdam in February of 2014, just before the Russian annexation of Crimea. The question then arose of whether to return the collection to Ukraine or to the Crimean museums – effectively giving them to Russia. In 2016 a district court in Amsterdam decided that the collection would return to Ukraine. The Crimean museums appealed the decision in 2017, and proceedings have continued since then.
Expect the court to rule that the collection be returned to Ukraine. The lower court kept with the UNESCO convention that artifacts be returned to their sovereign states, and there is no compelling reason for the court to break with that or overturn the decision of the lower court. The battle over heritage in Crimea, especially artifacts taken or excavated by Russia, is an issue Ukraine has tried to bring further international attention to and, in the long term, may become another arena in which Ukraine aligns itself with the EU and other Western entities.
Robert is a research analyst with the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. His primary focus is on politics, technology, and development, with particular regional expertise in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe.