Russia has rejected a US court ruling to turn over a large library to Chabad in New York.
A US judge last week ruled against the Russian government for its refusal to return thousands of manuscripts that once belonged to a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi. The library was seized by Red Army in Nazi Germany as war booty. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that the ruling is a “rude violation” of international law.
What do the Russians want with this? Or did the other party to the dispute bribe someone there to hold on to the manuscripts?
Would the American government turn over property based on a ruling in a Russian court? Normally, lawsuits over property are brought in the place where the property is located.
Suing in a foreign country, with no historical connection to the property, is dumb. It only serves to antagonize the Russians and never had any chance of legal success.
Many of the items were rescued by the Soviets from the Nazis. Many more were confiscated well before that and the Russians have a consistent policy of not reversing confiscations that were lawful at the time (though they sometimes can be persuaded to do so – politically not via lawsuits in foreign countries).
I don’t know the history of this case, but I’m guessing it’s at least possible that the party attempting to recover the stolen Chabad property in Russian hands first attempted to pursue the matter via the Russian courts.
Additionally, and I’m not a lawyer, it could be that according to international law, pursuing the matter through US courts was the appropriate route to take–and not “dumb”.
Either way, the technical aspect of this case, that it was brought via an American court, seems to be scant justification for Russia to hang onto property that isn’t their own.
I would also strongly, but respectfully, object to your characterization of Soviet confiscation of Jewish property as “rescue” (or even “lawful”), and to your insinuation that Soviet/Russian refusal to return items to their rightful owners can be construed as part of a system of justice because it is applied as a “consistent policy”.
Russia has always maintained that US courts have no jurisdiction in this case since they are a sovereign government. In fact, I think that they did not even have representation at the trial.
Personnally, I think that it is a shame that all this material is not being made available to people.