Schneerson Library could be deposited at Russian State Library division at Tolerance Museum - official

The Schneerson Library, i.e. a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts built by Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneerson in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century, could be deposited at a Russian State Library (RSL) division at the Tolerance Museum in Moscow in the near future, Russian presidential representative for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoi told Interfax.

"We are talking not about transferring the library to the Tolerance Museum but about opening an RSL division there, where the Schneerson Library would be deposited. I think this will happen in a foreseeable future. Since this issue is being settled at the presidential level, I think this will happen quite soon," he said.

RSL General Director Alexander Visly told Interfax the books from the Schneerson Library could be deposited at an RSL division at the Tolerance Museum before the end of the year.

"We are currently holding negotiations with the museum. As soon as we reach an agreement, we will begin equipping the premises. Most likely, we will follow the way of setting up a library division and later a branch on the museum territory, where the books from the Schneerson Library will be deposited. I think all of this will happen this year," Visly said.

Before the books are placed at this depository, special storage conditions will have to be provided there, he said.

Part of the Schneerson book collection was nationalized by Bolsheviks in 1918 and eventually joined the Russian State Library collection. Schneerson managed to take the other part of the collection out of the Soviet Union while emigrating in the 1930s. About 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection were later seized by the Nazis, then were regained by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.

New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch religious community has been seeking the Schneerson collection's handover since the end of the 1980s.

Reports posted on January 17, 2013, said a federal court in Washington had ordered a daily fine of $50,000 for Russia's failure to transfer the Schneerson Collection to Chabad-Lubavitch.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later called impossible the Schneerson Library's handover to the U.S. and proposed that it be deposited at the Tolerance Museum in Moscow so that anyone could have access to it.

Shvydkoi said on March 18 that the Schneerson Library would be deposited at a Russian State Library branch to be opened at the Tolerance Museum.

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