Russian president Valdimir Putin visited the Moscow Jewish Museum accompanied by Cheif Rabbi Berel Lazar. After the tour the president declared that “the Chabad Library can be returned to Chabad, but they must remain in Russia.”
The Jewish Museum is the largest of it kind and opened its doors six months ago. Putin let his personal support to the museum’s construction and expressed surprise over the museum’s size and unique exhibits.
Mr. Putin said “transfer of the Schneeson library to the United States is something that is unacceptable. The collection was nationalized by the Russian government for over 100 years.” He went on to say that the lawsuit brought against Russia by Chabad could “open a pandora’s box” that would place Russia at the mercy of many more similar lawsuits.
A U.S. court recently ruled that the collection must be returned to Chabad in New York and every day that it does not Russia will have to pay a fine of $50,000. In response to the judgement Russia filed a counterclaim at the U.S. Library of Congress, that seven of the Seforim from the collection which was ‘loaned’ to Chabad in 1994 has not been returned.
Mr. Putin expressed at the time that the ruling was illegal.
Today, as mentioned, there was a significant and dramatic change in the Russian position. During Putin’s speech at the museum he said that in his opinion the Seforim should be transferred the to the Jewish community. “I’m ready to give the order to begin the process of transferring the books to the Chabad Jewish Museum in Moscow,” the President said.