07 August 2010

Russians ordered to return Jewish library

A US judge ordered the Russian government to return a Jewish library, according to the World Jewish Congress website.

A federal judge in Washington, DC issued a ruling against the Russian government for its refusal to return a library of historic books and documents to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. Seized by the Nazis, the library was transferred by the Soviet Red Army to the Russian State Military Archive.

The order was filed July 30 and published August 4.

Justice Royce Lamberth told the Russian government to surrender the complete collection of religious books, manuscripts, documents and other items to either the US Embassy in Moscow, or to Chabad representatives.

He ordered the defendants to assist and authorize the transfer of the collection and to provide the necessary security and authorization to insure prompt and safe transportation of the collection to a destination chosen by the plaintiffs.

“This victory is a triumph for justice for the Jewish people and others who abhor the Nazi and Soviet exploitation of victims of genocide, and the unlawful and immoral suppression of religious faith by the current Russian government,” said Seth Gerber, one of the lawyers representing Chabad.
Last year, lawyers for the Russian government argued that US judges had no authority to tell Russia how to handle the matter.
Under the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a sovereign nation is not immune to lawsuits in cases where property is taken in violation of international law. Lamberth found that the religious group had established its claim to the material.
During the 1990s, as documented in court papers, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told US Secretary of State James Baker that the Russian government would return the library to Chabad-Lubavitch.

Read more here.

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