U.S. to Russia: Hand over Jewish library

Jan. 17, 2013 at 3:56 PM

MOSCOW, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A U.S. court ruling that Russia must transfer an archive of Jewish books and documents to a Hasidic organization is unlawful, Russian officials say.

The court ordered the Russian government to pay $50,000 a day in penalties until the collection is given to the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, RIA Novosti reported. Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington found the Russian government in contempt in his decision Wednesday.

Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson took part of the Schneerson Library with him when he left the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The Russian government claims ownership of the rest, including items seized after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918 and others seized by the German Army during World War II and then recovered by the government.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called the U.S. ruling "absolutely unlawful and provocative" and "fraught with the most serious consequences."

Chabad began its legal fight in 1991 when Schneerson died. The group won a favorable ruling that year from a Moscow court that was reversed after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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