Crimean museums have asked the Amsterdam district court for more time to prepare an answer on the Scythian gold case, Andrey Malgin, the head of the Tavrida Central Museum, told TASS on Thursday.
"It’s a normal legal procedure. Each of the parties says it needs more time to prepare the documents from time to time. The Ukrainian side has done that quite recently. Now, it is our turn. We are no worse than they are," Malgin said adding that the Crimean museums’ lawyers had prepared the appeal.
"I do not see the reason for any comments," Malgin stressed.
He clarified that Crimea was currently preparing a reply to Ukraine’s decision to withdraw its lawsuit. "We have no right to breach the agreement with our lawyers and disclose the subtleties of handling the case," Malgin added.
As it has become known on Thursday, the Amsterdam district court has put off the date by which the Crimean museums are expected to reply on the Scythian gold case from August 12 to September 23.
"We have received no reaction from Crimean museums by (August 12)," the court’s spokeswoman said.
Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said in turn that the European Court had put off the hearing on the Scythian gold case until October.
The Scythian gold exhibits were put on view at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam as part of the "Crimea: Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea" exhibition in February 2014. About 2,000 exhibits were loaned by a museum in Kiev and four museums in Crimea, which was part of Ukraine at the time when the items were consigned to the Netherlands. They included pieces of goldsmithery, weapons and household appliances revealing the rich history of the Crimean peninsula.
The collection of unique exhibits was supposed to have returned home after the exhibition’s closure on August 31.
The problem emerged after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in the March 16 referendum. Both Russia and Ukraine have been claiming the right to the exhibits loaned by the Crimean museums. That is why the University of Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum suspended the artifacts’ handover until a legal solution was found to the dispute.
The Kiev-owned exhibits returned to Kiev in September 2014.
In November 2014, four Crimean museums (the Tavrida Central Museum, the Kerch Historical and Cultural Reserve, the Bakhchisaray Historical and Cultural Reserve and the Khersones Tavrichesky National Reserve) filed a lawsuit to the University of Amsterdam demanding a return of the Scythian gold collection to Crimea.
The Crimean museums have stressed it many times that they have the right to claim the collection back because all the exhibits were found in the peninsula’s territory and stored in Crimean museums.