Russia plans to move Jewish texts claimed by the Chabad Lubavitch movement to Moscow’s newly opened Jewish museum next month.
Russian Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Ivliyev told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday that the disputed Schneerson library will be moved to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow.
“We will start moving the books to the Tolerance Center in April,” Ivliyev said. “We intend to use the opportunities of the Jewish Museum and the Tolerance Center for displaying books from the Schneerson library. We are digitizing and restoring the books and are preparing them for broader use.”
A U.S. judge in January ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day in fines for failing to honor a 2010 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Washington to hand over the historic collection of 12,000 books and 50,000 documents to the New York-based movement.
Since 1991, leaders of the group have been trying to regain possession of the library of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, who led the Chabad-Lubavitch movement before his death in 1950.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the texts are part of Russian heritage and will not leave Russia.
Part of the 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, and then regained by the Red Army and handed over to the Russian State Military Archive.