Moscow Arbitration Court says decision binding Schneersohn Library return takes effect

A court order which compelled the U.S. Library of Congress to return the Schneersohn Library to Russia has taken effect.

A court order which compelled the U.S. Library of Congress to return the Schneersohn Library to Russia has taken effect.

"No appeals were lodged by the deadline and the decision took effect," the Moscow Arbitration Court told Interfax on Tuesday.

Consistent with the court order, the plaintiff shall receive a compensation for each day of delay in the order's enforcement. "To adjudge to the Russian State Library and the Russian Culture Ministry $50,000 for each day of non-fulfillment of the final court order regarding this case starting the day after the order takes effect," the judge said in a resolution.

The Moscow Arbitration Court upheld in late May the claim of the Russian State Library and the Russian Culture Ministry against the U.S. Library of Congress demanding the transfer of Schneerson books. U.S. representatives did not attend the hearing but the case file contained evidence they had been properly notified.

The Schneerson Library is 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. Part of the collection was nationalized by Bolsheviks in 1918 and eventually joined the collection of the Lenin Library (Russian State Library now). Schneerson managed to take the other part of the collection out of the Soviet Union while emigrating in the 1930s.

The New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch religious community has been seeking the Schneerson collection's handover since late 1980s. In August 2010 a federal judge in Washington, Royce Lamberth, ruled that the Hasidim proved the legitimacy of their claims to the ancient Jewish books and manuscripts, which, in his definition, are kept at the Russian State Library and the Russian Military Archive illegally. The Russian Foreign Ministry challenged the judgment.

It was reported on January 17, 2013 that a U.S. district court in Washington had ruled to oblige Russia to pay $50,000 a day as a fine until the Schneerson collection is returned to Chabad-Lubavitch based on the 2010 court order.

A judge in Washington ruled on June 20, 2013 that Russia's refusal to give the Schneerson collection to the U.S. Hasidic community was inappropriate and unlawful.

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