20 January 2016, 10:02
Putin believes situation around Schneerson Library improved considerably
Moscow, January 20, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced hope that the Schneerson Library problem has ceased to be acute now.
Putin said at a meeting with representatives of the European Jewish Congress that the Schneerson Library, which is currently exhibited at the Tolerance Center in Moscow, has been an apple of discord with representatives of the U.S. community for some time.
"I hope that now when these books will become a heritage of all those who want to familiarize themselves with them, work in the scientific field, I believe that there already should not be such acuteness. To my mind, the situation has cardinally changed," Putin said.
Interfax has reported that, according to the case materials, the Russian State Library demands that the U.S. Library of Congress return seven book of the Schneerson library. The Agudas Chassidei Chabad non-governmental organization, which has been given the books, is a third party in the case.
The Schneerson Library is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts built by Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneerson in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. Part of the collection was nationalized by Bolsheviks in 1918 and eventually joined the collection of the Lenin Library (Russian State Library now). Schneerson managed to take the other part of the collection out of the Soviet Union while emigrating in the 1930s.
The New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch religious community has been seeking the Schneerson collection's handover since late 1980s. In August 2010 a federal judge in Washington, Royce Lamberth, ruled that the Hasidim proved the legitimacy of their claims to the ancient Jewish books and manuscripts, which, in his definition, are kept at the Russian State Library and the Russian Military Archive illegally. The Russian Foreign Ministry challenged the judgment.
It was reported on January 17, 2013 that a U.S. district court in Washington had ruled to oblige Russia to pay $50,000 a day as a fine until the Schneerson collection is returned to Chabad-Lubavitch based on the 2010 court order.
A judge in Washington ruled on June 20, 2013 that Russia's refusal to give the Schneerson collection to the U.S. Hasidic community was inappropriate and unlawful.