The Amsterdam District Court ruled on Wednesday that Crimean gold artifacts are to be returned to Ukraine [judgment, in Dutch; press release, in Dutch] and not Crimea. The artifacts, including gems, helmets and scabbards, were on loan to Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum when Russia annexed Crimea [BBC timeline] from Ukraine [BBC profile] in March 2014. Russian authorities argued [Guardian report] that the artifacts should be in the possession of Crimea since they were discovered in the Crimean peninsula. In its decision, the court ruled that only sovereign countries could claim objects as cultural heritage. Therefore, since Ukraine, and not Crimea, is sovereign, the treasures must be returned to Ukraine. Crimean museums have three months to appeal the ruling.
Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since the annexation of Crimea [JURIST backgrounder] in March 2014. In July Amnesty International and Human Rights released a 56-page report detailing how Ukrainian government officials and Russia-backed separatists in the Ukraine have subjected citizens to [JURIST report] “prolonged, arbitrary detention,” torture, or other forms of inhumane treatment, including refusing necessary medical attention. In June the UN human rights office reported that the human rights situation in Ukraine remains troublesome [JURIST report] following two years of conflict with Russia. In February Russia filed suit [JURIST report] against Ukraine over Ukraine’s default on $3 billion in bonds. A Ukrainian official said in January that the nation plans to sue Russia [JURIST report] in the International Court of Justice on claims of financing terrorism. In August of last year a Russian military court sentenced [JURIST report] two Ukrainian activists to substantial jail time for the charge of conspiring to commit terror attacks. In March of last year the EU committed to stand by its policy of refusing to recognize Crimea’s annexation [JURIST report].