18 April 2012, 13:52
Russian-American museum rifts over Schneerson Library will be solved in 2012
Moscow, April 18, Interfax - The problem of inter-museum exchanges between Russia and the United States, which emerged after a court in the U.S. ruled to return the Schneerson Library, could be settled this year, said the Kremlin's envoy for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy.
"Cultural relations with the United States have always been diversified and positive, despite rifts in inter-museum exchanges. I think, however, that we will manage to settle this problem this year," he told reporters o Wednesday.
The Schneerson Library is a collection of Jewish books and manuscripts, put together by rabbis of the Chabad Jewish community in the late 18th century in Belarus, and is a Jewish religious relic.
Part of the collection amassed by Lubavitcher Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, was nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and ended up in the Russian State Library. The other part was taken out of the Soviet Union by Schneerson, who emigrated in the 1930s.
About 25,000 pages of manuscript fell into the hands of the Nazis, and were later seized by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.
Lubavitchers (adherents of a particular Hasidic movements) have sought the restitution of the Schneerson collection since the late 1980s. According to some reports, at the time Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, promised James Baker, Secretary of State in the first Bush administration, that the holy documents would be returned to the Hasids.
On August 6, 2010, a federal judge in Washington, Royce Lamberth, ruled that the Hasids proved the legitimacy of their claims to the ancient Jewish books and manuscripts, which, in his definition, are being maintained in the Russian State Library and the Russian Military Archive illegally.
The Russian Foreign Ministry challenged the judgment.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle has assured Russian officials that the U.S. court ruling will not lead to a seizure of Russian cultural artifacts taken to the United States for exhibition.
Earlier Russia's special envoy for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy stated that a special agreement is being drafted regarding U.S.-Russian museum relations. Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev stated that Russia will not enter talks over the fate of the Schneerson library, which hurt the cultural exchange between Russia and the U.S., until the U.S. court ruling to return the collection to U.S. Hasids has been overturned.