Ukraine hails 'long-awaited victory' in Crimea gold case

Kiev (AFP) – Kiev hailed a victory over Russia on Tuesday after a Dutch appeals court ruled that a priceless collection of Crimean gold stuck for years in the Netherlands be handed over to Ukraine.


President Volodymyr Zelensky said the "long-awaited victory" to return the treasure, which had been loaned to an Amsterdam museum shortly before Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, was a "fair decision".

"We always regain what's ours. After the 'Scythian gold', we'll return Crimea," Zelensky said on Twitter.

Four Crimean museums launched a legal bid seven years ago to force the Allard Pierson Museum to return the collection of archaeological artefacts dubbed the "Scythian Gold" to the peninsula.

A lower Dutch court said in 2016 that the treasures were part of Ukraine's cultural heritage and must be returned instead to Kiev, adding that Crimea was not considered a sovereign state.

The Crimean museums appealed against the judgement, saying that they belonged there.

The Dutch court of appeal said in 2019 that it needed more time to decide on the matter. On Tuesday, the 2016 decision was upheld.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the collection "part of our national code."

"All Russian fakes, manipulations and attempts to mislead the court ended in failure," he said in a statement.

"I am convinced that just as we have returned the Scythian gold today, we will return our people and our temporarily occupied territories," Kuleba added, referring to Crimea and separatist-controlled territory.

Kiev and its Western allies say Russia illegally annexed Crimea, a month after Ukraine's Moscow-backed president was ousted in a pro-EU uprising, and accuses Moscow of backing pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's east.