29 November 2019, 13:56
Moscow court arrests U.S. rabbi in absentia in Schneerson library case
Moscow, November 29, Interfax - The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow has sanctioned the arrest in absentia of Rabbi Shalom Dov-Ber Levine, the director of the Agudas Chasidei Chabad Library based in the United States, who is charged with failure to return books from the Schneerson collection to Russia.
"The investigator's motion on Shalom Dov-Ber Levine's arrest in absentia has been granted. The measure of restraint in the form of two-month [arrest] is to begin from the moment of his detention or extradition to Russia," a court representative told Interfax.
The Russian investigators charged the rabbi in absentia with the failure to return culturally valuable items to Russia. He was initially added to federal wanted lists and subsequently declared wanted internationally.
The court did not clarify the charges. However, according to media, the charges were brought against 71-year-old Levine in May 2019. According to the investigators, he is an "active participant in the crime," and his involvement in the failure to return items of cultural value is proven by the testimony of witnesses among other evidence.
The witnesses in the case are Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue Rabbi Yitzhak Kogan.
The Schneerson Library comprises 12,000 books and 25,000 documents. This is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts compiled by Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneerson in the Russian Empire late in the 19th century. Part of the collection was nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and eventually joined the collection of the Lenin Library (now the Russian State Library). 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.
The Schneerson book collection's transfer to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, within which the Russian State Library opened its branch, started at Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal in 2013. The library provided all the necessary conditions for accommodating the collection, and all those wishing received access to it.
A Russian court ruling that took effect in July 2014 obliges the Library of Congress to return to Russia seven books from the Schneerson collection, which Moscow lent to the Library of Congress on an interlibrary loan in 1994 at the U.S.' request.
Having received the books, the Congress passed them to the Agudas Chasidei Chabad Library. When the return deadline expired, the U.S. asked Russia for extending the loan term. The Russian State Library granted such extensions at the Culture Ministry's permission in 1995-1996. The Hasidim community proposed in 2000 that the books be exchanged for others and offered a list of such books to choose from, but Russia did not agree.
- Three religious extremists detained in Kazan 20 February 2020, 18:30
- Putin calls to halt any religious discord 20 February 2020, 13:25
- All Russian Orthodox Church parishes in Southeast Asia to pray for riddance of coronavirus 19 February 2020, 18:41
- Court arrests Moscow church attacker 18 February 2020, 19:27
- Investigators file for arrest of suspected assailant of Moscow churchgoers 18 February 2020, 12:18
- Man who attacked people in Moscow church says didn't plan crime, 'got up on wrong side of bed' 17 February 2020, 22:06
- Four members of banned pseudo-religious group convicted in Orenburg Region 17 February 2020, 18:38
- Georgian Church decides not to take part in pan-Orthodox meeting in Jordan 17 February 2020, 18:33
- Romanian Church to agree with granting of tomos to Orthodox Church in Ukraine, provided that Constantinople and Moscow reach consensus - media (updated) 14 February 2020, 21:11
- Karekin II grateful to Syria for recognizing Armenian genocide 14 February 2020, 18:08
- Pan-Orthodox meeting on 'Ukrainian issue' to be held in Amman on Feb 26 (updated) 14 February 2020, 15:08
- No same-sex marriage to be legitimized in Russia as long as I am president - Putin (updated) 13 February 2020, 17:31
- Orthodox leaders to discuss 'Ukrainian issue' in Amman in late Feb (updated) 12 February 2020, 21:28
- CPRF doesn't mind mentioning God in Russian constitution 11 February 2020, 18:30
- Criminal case opened in Transbaikal Territory after searches of residences of suspected Jehovah's Witnesses 10 February 2020, 19:57
- A woman could head the Russian Church synodal department 10 February 2020, 12:34
- Russian Church proposes to designate the special role of Russians in Constitution 10 February 2020, 12:15
- Zelensky invites Pope to visit Ukraine 10 February 2020, 11:58
- Zelensky asks Pope to help with release of Ukrainians in custody in Russia, Donbass 10 February 2020, 11:55
- Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem working as usual, has no info on property handover 05 February 2020, 21:25
- Yakut shaman complains to ECHR 05 February 2020, 18:09
- OCU terminates Filaret's membership in Holy Synod 05 February 2020, 12:27
- Russian Orthodox Church could discontinue practice of blessing WMDs 04 February 2020, 21:05
- Enshrining 'traditional marriage' in constitution at bottom of working group's agenda 04 February 2020, 19:14
- Krasheninnikov against enshrining family, God in constitution 04 February 2020, 18:58
- Pompeo praises Uzbekistan for progress in upholding religious freedom 03 February 2020, 19:17
- Marriage, not family should be defined as union between man and woman in Russian Constitution - Russian Orthodox Church 03 February 2020, 18:04
- Working group to discuss appropriateness of mentioning God in Constitution – Kremlin 03 February 2020, 13:57
- Patriarch Kirill proposes mentioning God in Constitution 02 February 2020, 19:02
- Orthodox society active at Alexander Metochion in Jerusalem still has no info on property transfer to Russia 31 January 2020, 15:14