Scythian gold case: lawyers count on positive outcome of litigation for Ukraine

Scythian gold case: lawyers count on positive outcome of litigation for Ukraine

Lawyers who represent the interests of Ukraine in the case of the contested Scythian gold collection believe in the final victory of Ukraine in the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, since the Procurator General of the Supreme Court also confirmed in an independent advisory opinion that the Russian Crimean Museums’ complaints are groundless.

Dutch lawyers representing the team defending Ukraine in the Scythian gold case, Gert-Jan van den Bergh and Maarten Sanders, spoke of this in a comment to an Ukrinform correspondent in The Hague.

"We have now received an opinion from the Procurator General. His task is to study the case and to advise the Supreme Court on matters in dispute. Usually, the Supreme Court follows his advice. So in 95% of cases, the Supreme Court decides in accordance with such an opinion," said Sanders.

"This is already a very positive signal, and we hope that the final decision of the Supreme Court will be in favor of Ukraine," he added. "If it is in our favor, in favor of Ukraine, then we will go to the museum in Amsterdam and we will tell them that it is time to return the treasures. Because in that case, there is no court in the Netherlands, no other court of appeal against the decision of the Supreme Court. This is the highest court, and if we win it, then we are done. After that, the treasures should be returned to Ukraine," he said.

Read also: Melitopol mayor says occupiers steal Scythian gold collection from local museum

“The Procurator General of the Supreme Court, professor Vlas, rendered his opinion last Thursday. His main task is to provide the members of the Supreme Court with independent advice – known as an ‘advisory opinion’ - on how to rule in the cassation proceedings before them,” said van den Bergh.

The final decision of the court has now been announced for September 15 this year, he added. The advice that was rendered on Thursday concludes that there are no grounds for cassation and that the decision to hand over the Crimean Artefacts to the State of Ukraine should hence be upheld.

After seven years of legal war, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal decided on October 26, 2021 to return the exhibits of the exhibition titled “Crimea – the Golden Island in the Black Sea” to Ukraine. The Court of Appeal confirmed that Ukraine has control over its own cultural heritage, based on the Ukrainian Museum Law.

Read also: Archaeologists discover 40 objects of Scythian period and Bronze Age dwelling in Poltava region

“We applauded the fact that the court found its way in complex issues of Ukrainian cultural heritage law. The court confirmed what Ukraine has stated from the beginning: that the museum objects belong to the state part of the Museum Fund of Ukraine and should be regarded as an integral part of its cultural identity. As a sovereign nation, Ukraine can reclaim its cultural heritage. Now, the Procurator General of the Supreme Court advices that same court to uphold the decision,” the lawyer said.


The collection of Scythian gold had been delivered to the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam as part of the exhibition entitled “Crimea – the Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea” prior to the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

On December 14, 2016, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the exhibits of the Crimean museums had to be returned to Ukraine, to Kyiv. The judgment was delivered pursuant to the UNESCO convention, according to which the art treasures should be returned to a sovereign state, which provided them for a temporary exhibition.

On March 28, 2017, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal received an appeal against the ruling from the representatives of Crimean museums.

On October 28, 2020, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal granted Ukraine's motion to disqualify a judge in the Scythian gold case due to confirmation of the presiding judge's link with the lawyers of Crimean museums which could indicate his bias.

On April 22, 2021, the parties held a final debate in the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.

On October 26, 2021, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal, which heard the Scythian gold collection case on its merits, judged that the collection shall be returned to Ukraine, thus upholding the ruling of the first-instance court.

As reported by Ukrinform, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands should announce a decision in the case about the ownership of "Scythian gold" on September 15, 2023.

On January 26, 2022, the so-called Russian Crimean museums in the temporarily occupied Crimea filed this cassation appeal against the decision of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.

Currently, the collection in question is still being kept in the Allard Pearson Museum in Amsterdam.

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