MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Moscow Commercial Court has upheld a claim of the Russian Ministry of Culture and the Russian State Library, ordering the United States return seven books from the collection of Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson to Russia, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the courtroom.
At the request of the plaintiffs, the court also awarded $50,000 for each day of non-compliance to the order. The decision of the court has not yet entered into force, and may be appealed.
The defendants were properly served summons, but did not attend the court session Thursday.
Seven books from the prominent and rare Judaic Schneerson Library were given to the US in 1994 for temporary use under conditions of the International Library Subscription system. They were to be returned upon request, the plaintiff's representative said at the hearing. In March 2013, the Russian State Library filed a claim for the return of books, but they were not returned. The books are now in the hands of the non-profit organization Agudas Chasidei Habad.
Library of Congress Director of Communications Gale Osterberg commented on the news of the lawsuit, maintaining that the Library of Congress had not committed any violations in relation to the books.
The Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn was expelled from the USSR in 1927. He moved his collection of books to Poland, where they remained after the invasion of Nazi Germany. In 1945, the collection was taken by the Red Army. In 1950, Schneersohn died, leaving no orders regarding his collection.
The US Court for the District of Columbia earlier ordered the Russian government to pay $50,000 a day before the date of return of the Schneerson library to the American Hasidims.