Thursday, January 17, 2013

Contempt Sanctions Imposed On Russian Government For Failure To Return Expropriated Jewish Books

In Agudas Chasidei Chabad of the United States v. Russian Federation, (D DC, Jan. 16, 2013), the D.C. federal district court held the Russian government and three of its agencies in civil contempt for not complying with a 2010 default judgement ordering it to return two expropriated collections of valuable Jewish religious books and manuscripts to Chasidei Chabad of United States.  Despite objections by the United States government, the court imposed civil sanctions of $50,000 per day until defendants comply with the court's order.  Blog of the Legal Times reports on the decision.

UPDATE: According to Interfax (Jan. 17), the Russian presidential representative for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy does not understand the court's contempt findings. He said:
Russia earlier honored all agreements on this issue. The problem was discussed within the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission's framework, and we reached quite a reasonable compromise with the American side then. We set up the Center of Oriental Literature at the Russian State Library, where, in particular, the Schneerson collection is stored, and it is accessible to any citizens, including Russian and others. A prayer room was also set up there, where religious cults can be observed. I had assumed the issue was settled.
He added: "Transferring books from the Russian State Library violates the law, it is prohibited."