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Dutch Top Court Says Crimean Gold Must Go to Kyiv

A Scythian gold helmet from the fourth century B.C. is displayed as part of the exhibit called The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea, at Allard Pierson historical museum in Amsterdam. Peter Dejong / AP / TASS

The Netherlands' highest court ruled Friday that a priceless collection of Crimean gold must be handed over to Ukraine, the latest move in a legal tug-of-war spanning almost a decade.

The treasures, dubbed the "Scythian Gold," were loaned to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam just before Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

Both Ukraine and four museums in the occupied peninsula have demanded that the treasures be returned to them, but the Allard Pierson Museum said it would not do so until a judge ruled to which party it should go.

"The Allard Pierson Museum must hand over the art treasures to the State of Ukraine and not to the Crimean museums," the Dutch Supreme Court said.

"With this decision, the Supreme Court has ended the dispute," the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Friday's ruling underscored previous decisions by lower Dutch courts that said the treasures should be returned to Kyiv — and not the museums who launched the petition — for protection "pending stabilization in the Crimea."

The judges said that Ukraine had a "legitimate interest in protecting its cultural heritage."

While Kyiv hailed previous court rulings in its favor as a victory, Moscow reacted with fury, calling it a politically motivated decision which "set a dangerous precedent."

Previous court rulings also came before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

The Allard Pierson Museum said it did not yet know when the treasures will be returned to Ukraine.

"That will be decided in cooperation with Ukraine," a museum official told the Dutch ANP news service. 

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