On the pages of this blog I previously followed the long-drawn saga with the Crimean Scything gold that the Netherlands refused to return to the museums that owned the artefacts. These articles are from 2016 and 2019 and can be found, following the Scythian Gold tag. The collections that were lent out to Holland, technically belong each to its legal entity (therein, the 4 Crimean museums).
Holland now sent the valuables to Kiev, and with the current kleptocratic neo-Nazi regime in power there, the chances to this heritage of mankind staying there is very slim. Ironically, if Holland was hell-bent on not returning the items to the proper owners in Crimea, it would have been better for the collection to stay in Holland until the end of the SMO and the de-Nazification of Ukraine, but that is, apparently, not in the interests of the overseas managers of Holland.
Below are two articles from “Argumenty i Fakty”. The first one is with the breaking news from yesterday regarding the delivery of the invaluable cargo to Kiev, while the second is from last year, that looks into the troubled legal canvas that surrounded the case. The articles overlap somewhat in the historical section, complementing each other.
by Konstantin Mikhalchevsky, RIA Novosti, 27.11.2023
The collection of Scythian gold from Crimean museums has been handed over to the Kiev regime. Representatives of the authorities announced the arrival of a truck with the valuable cargo in the Ukrainian capital.
A truck with valuables
The Ukrainian portal “Strana”, with reference to the customs, reports that a truck with 2694kg of cultural valuables arrived on the territory of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. It is planned to perform the identification and registration of the cargo with the subsequent transfer of the valuables to the treasury of the museum.
Earlier, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine stated that all issues of the transfer of the collection have been resolved with the Dutch side and Kiev will not have to pay the payment for long-term storage. (Translator note: such generosity is shown by a pirate towards a robber!)
The Exhibition of Discord
At the beginning of 2014, a collection of valuables from the museums of the Crimea and the Ukraine, numbering several hundred exhibits, arrived in the Netherlands. The exhibition called “Crimea — the Golden Island in the Black Sea” was held at the Allard Pierson Archaeological Museum with the assistance of the University of Amsterdam from the 7th of February until the 31st of August 2014.
Important note — after the end of the exhibition, the valuables from the Kiev and Odessa museums were returned to their rightful places. It was the exhibits of the four Crimean museums that were left “hanging” in the Netherlands — 2111 storage units, with the estimated cost of €1.4 million.
During the time that the “Scythian gold” was in the Netherlands, Crimea, based on the results of the referendum, became part of Russia. However, as you know, there is a peculiar understanding of democracy in Europe. Kosovo, where no referendum was held at all, is recognized by the Netherlands as an independent state, but the Dutch do not want to recognize the freely expressed will of the inhabitants of Crimea.
The Un-Solomonian decision
The Dutch directly participated in the NATO armed attack on Yugoslavia, as a result of which Kosovo was separated from Serbia. So there the authorities legalized their own robbery.
In the situation with the “Scythian gold”, the Netherlands behaved within the framework of the same logic — guided by political considerations.
In 2016, the Amsterdam District Court, and in 2021, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal decided to transfer the Scythian collection to Kiev. “Although the museum exhibits originate from the Crimea and in this sense can also be considered as the heritage of the Crimea, they are part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine, since the latter has existed as an independent state since 1991,” the court said.
Since we are talking about cultural heritage, it is very appropriate to recall where the collection of the Scythian gold came from.
And what does Ukraine have to do with it?
The remains of the city of Naples Scythian (translator note: Neapol Skifskij, the Scythian New City) were discovered in the middle of the XIX century, that is, during the time of the Russian Empire, while active excavations began in 1926 by the forces of Nikolai Ernst’s group. The main findings were made by Pavel Schultz’s Tauro-Scythian expedition in the 1950s, that is, already under the USSR.
Some of the exhibits in the collection were discovered at the Ust-Alminsky settlement of the Scythians, discovered by Ernst in the 1930s. All active research work in this place occurred during the Soviet period, meanwhile the independent Ukraine never cared neither for the valuable exhibits, nor for the science in general.
The incident with the Scythian gold is similar to the story of the AN-225 Mriya aircraft, which Ukraine was very proud of, despite the fact that it was the brainchild of the Soviet design mind and Soviet industry, while they were physically unable to reproduce it in “Nezalezhnaya” (independent Ukraine).
The burden of a “civilized” man
The Crimean authorities noted that after the transfer of the Scythian gold, there is a high probability of its plundering. Knowing the 30-year history of Ukrainian independence, we can confirm that such fears have a basis. Stealing is a common feature of all the regimes that have existed here since the country left the USSR.
As for cultural relations with the West, the history of the last year and a half has shown that the Europeans only consider their own values as inviolable, while the destruction, looting or “cancellation” of what is outside of the “civilized world” can be ignored.
Some time ago, there was a lot of talk in our country about restitution — that is, the return of displaced cultural values that ended up in the USSR after the Great Patriotic War.
The Nazis and their accomplices stole and destroyed 1,135,900 museum items from the Soviet Union. After the war, no more than 1/20th of the Soviet losses were transferred from Germany to the USSR in the form of the museum exhibits as part of the displaced valuables.
Much of what was stolen from the looted Soviet museums is still circulating through private Western collections, and there is no question of their return. Instead of that they, for some reason, always tried to shame us.
The case the Scythian gold was taken up by the Investigative Committee. Who will be held responsible for “cultural looting”?
19.01.2022, Andrei Sidorchik
The story associated with the collection of the Scythian gold from the museums of the Crimea, which has stretched over the past eight years, has received a new development. The competent authorities of the Russian Federation have joined the case.
“It was not done in a timely manner”
“The Investigative Committee is conducting a preliminary investigation into the theft of items of special cultural value, known as Scythian gold. Those involved in the export of Scythian gold from the territory of Crimea are being questioned, it is being established – and this is the main question – what was done to return it, whether these measures were enough,” Alexander Molokhov, deputy head of the working group on international legal issues at the Permanent Mission of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation, told TASS.
According to the investigation, in 2014, due to the actions of officials of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, as well as their Crimean colleagues, Scythian gold was not transferred to the museum fund of the Russian Federation in a timely manner.
“There are specific officials who gave instructions. They had to organize the transfer and registration of this collection as an integral part of the museum fund of the Russian Federation to the museum fund of our country. This was not done in a timely manner,” Molokhov told TASS.
As it turns out, a dispute broke out within the Russian authorities about who and on whose behalf should fight for the collection in the Dutch courts. According to Molokhov, the complaint to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands will be filed on behalf of the museums of the Crimea, and not from Russia: “They don’t want to file a complaint from Russia. The Department for International Legal Cooperation of the Prosecutor General’s Office opposed it. Officials are simply afraid to take responsibility for themselves, leaving museums one on one with the Ukraine and Dutch justice.”
“Golden Island in the Black Sea”
At the beginning of 2014, a collection of valuables from the museums of the Crimea and the Ukraine, numbering several hundred exhibits, went to the Netherlands. The exhibition called “Crimea — the Golden Island in the Black Sea” was held at the Allard Pierson Archaeological Museum with the assistance of the University of Amsterdam from February 7 to August 31, 2014. After its completion, the exhibits from the museums of Kiev and Odessa returned home. But the collections from the four museums of the Crimea were in limbo.
We are talking about 565 museum items, 2111 storage units with a total value of approximately 1.4 million euros. However, when it comes to historical values, it is difficult to talk about the price.
When the collection was being prepared for shipment to the Netherlands, it was designated in the documents as the property of Ukraine. But then the political reality changed: a coup d’etat took place in Kiev, and Crimea decided to join Russia. As a result, the golden items of the Antiquity and the early Middle Ages were at the epicenter of the political passions of the present.
Politics against Logic and Justice
The most logical thing to do is to return the items to the museums from which they were taken. Moreover, with all the attacks against Russia, it did not occur to Europeans to accuse Russia of plundering Crimean cultural values.
But in the Netherlands, from the very beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, politicians have taken a very one-sided position, which was also manifested in the decisions of the judicial authorities. In 2016, the Amsterdam District Court, and in 2021, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal decided to transfer the Scythian collection to Kiev. “Although the museum exhibits originate from the Crimea and in this sense can also be considered as the heritage of the Crimea, they are part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine, since the latter has existed as an independent state since 1991,” the court said.
What do the Scythians and Sarmatians, whose culture includes gold items from the Northern Black Sea region, have to do with the 30-year-old Ukrainian independence? Nothing.
Scythian values, Soviet excavations
And the archaeological finds in question were made in a period which Ukraine denounces with all its might.
The remains of the city of Naples Scythian were discovered in the middle of the XIX century, that is, during the Russian Empire, while active excavations began in 1926 by the forces of Nikolai Ernst’s group. The main findings were made by Pavel Schultz’s Tauro-Scythian expedition in the 1950s.
Some of the exhibits in the collection were discovered at the Ust-Alminsky settlement of the Scythians, discovered by Ernst in the 1930s. All active research work in this place occurred during the Soviet period, meanwhile the independent Ukraine never cared neither for the valuable exhibits, nor for the science in general. President Zelensky’s reaction to the Dutch court’s decision was also very characteristic: “Scythian gold will return to Ukraine. We always get our own back. First we will return the Scythian gold, and then the Crimea.”
A logical question arises: if you consider Crimea your own, then why are you taking away the valuables belonging to its museums? Apparently, for the same reason, why Kiev subjects the Crimeans to a water blockade and promises them punishments for “collaboration”.
The West is no stranger to plundering cultural values in the East
But all is clear with Ukrainian politicians: for those who took power in 2014, looting is part of the usual practice. There are many more questions for the Netherlands. The museums of this country participate in cultural exchange with the museums of Russia, but after the story of the Scythian gold, the possibility of the termination of such ties has become quite real. If today the Dutch authorities, for political reasons, do not return the exhibits to the museums of the Crimea, then where is the guarantee that tomorrow they will not find grounds for similar actions with respect to collections from Moscow and St. Petersburg? The story of the Scythian gold vividly recalled the times of the Great Patriotic War. Dozens of museums were looted by the Nazis in the USSR, and the consolidated catalogue of lost valuables counts 1,135,900 items of storage. When it comes to captured valuables exported from Germany to the USSR after the war, it should be noted that they constituted no more than 1/20 of what the Soviet Union lost as a result of the invasion of the Nazis. But later, the USSR voluntarily and gratuitously returned a lot of things from the displaced items. But stolen valuables of our country are often kept in private collections for decades, despite the fact that the owners are aware of the history of these rarities. There is confidence that sooner or later the Scythian gold will return home to the Crimea. And those who started this mess, deciding to make “cultural looting” part of the political process, will get what is due to them.