Russia - A Russian envoy said negotiations surrounding the future of the Schneerson Library are being called of until officials from the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch of America drop their lawsuit against the Russian Federation.
M.RBTH.ru reports that Mikhail Shvydkoi, Russian presidential envoy for international cultural cooperation, made his comments Tuesday during an interview at the main offices of Interfax.
“There can be no talk at all until the withdrawal of this lawsuit, which I see as unlawful and absolutely legally void in relation to the Russian Federation,” said Shvydkoi. “And then, if the lawsuit is withdrawn, there are always opportunities for any negotiations.”
Chabad-Lubavitch of America has been actively seeking the return of the Schneerson Library since the late 1980s, but stepped up efforts after a Washington federal judge ruled in 2010 that the Hasidim had proven legitimate ownership.
In January of 2013, a U. S. district court judge in Washington hit the Russians with a $50K per-day fine until the library is returned to America, an exercise Russian president Vladimir Putin called “impossible,” before ordering that the library be turned over to the Jewish Tolerance Center in Moscow and declaring the matter “closed.”
Shvydkoi reiterated Putin’s declaration later in the interview.
“I believe the Schneerson collection issue has been closed. The library has been handed over to the Tolerance Center, which is in fact a cultural center of the large Hasidic community in Russia.
These books are sacred to the Hasidim. They are kept by people for whom they are sacred. The books have never left the Russian Federation. I believe the problem has been settled,” said Shvydkoi.