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April 18, 2012 1:53 pm

Russia Demands That Chabad Drop U.S. Lawsuit Over Famous Library Collection

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Exhibition at Chabad library in New York. Photo:

The Schneerson Library, a collection of books, manuscripts and other literary works that were nationalized in the early 20th century by the Bolsheviks and were sent to Russia’s state library, continues to be a point of contention between the United States and Russia.

“We will begin any conversation regarding the Schneerson Library after the U.S. Hasidic community that has filed the suit with a U.S. court recalls it,” Russian envoy Mikhail Shvydkoy told Interfax.

Shvykoy, referring to a lawsuit filed by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement claiming their right to the collection, is concerned that items from the Schneerson Library in the United States on exhibition could be confiscated by U.S. authorities.

“The threat to other Russian cultural valuables not protected by diplomatic immunity in the U.S. is still in place. However, we will do all we can so that there is no threat to Russian cultural valuables in the U.S.,” he said.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson was able to take half of his collection with him after he fled the former Soviet Union, but the other half remains the issue.

John Beyrle, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia has assured the Russian government that the works currently in the United States will not be confiscated, despite a ruling by a federal judge that the works are being illegally maintained by the Russian state library and military archives.

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