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Dutch Supreme Court returns museum Artifacts from Crimea to Ukraine

By: Callie Gao

Over a thousand ancient objects were borrowed from Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum from Crimea. The artifacts had been on display at a museum in the Netherlands at the time that Russia annexed Crimea. Both the state of Ukraine and the museums in Crimea demanded their return.

There was a huge tug-of-war for the artifacts which came to an end when the Supreme Court ordered the collection to be returned to Ukraine. “Although the museum pieces originated from Crimea and can therefore also be regarded as Crimean heritage, they are part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine,” the ruling says.

After the Crimean artifacts were split from Ukraine in 2014, both the State of Ukraine and four Crimean museums claimed the disputed artifacts.

In 2016, it was decided that the objects must be returned to the head of state that loaned them and the problem of ownership should be resolved by the Ukrainian court. The Crimean museums appealed, and Russia threatened to stop feeding artifacts to Dutch museums if they did not return the objects.

In 2021, the court ordered the artifacts to be sent to Ukraine again. The court decision in 2021 noted that under Ukrainian law, the artifacts will be held at the National Historical Museum in Kyiv “until the situation in Crimea has stabilized.” The Dutch Supreme Court stated on Friday that the 2021 decision “struck a fair balance between infringing on the rights of the museums and the interests of the State of Ukraine in protecting its cultural heritage.”


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