WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Russian government says it will no longer participate in a U.S. lawsuit filed by Chabad-Lubavitch to recover sacred books and manuscripts.
Russia told a U.S. District Court in Washington that the court had "no authority to enter orders with respect to the property owned by the Russian Federation and in its possession," that the United States can deal with the dispute through diplomatic channels and Chabad should file a suit in Russian courts, the Associated Press reported.
Chabad sued the Russian government in 2004 after other efforts had failed in recovering more than 25,000 pages of Chabad-owned original sacred texts. The texts had been transported from Poland to Moscow by the Red Army at the end of World War II in 1945 along with the movement’s library, which was seized by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1917.
District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said the case was appropriate to be heard in U.S. courts because Russia violated international law.
"Russia is showing its contempt and disdain for international law, the American judicial system, and basic principles of fairness and justice," Nathan Lewin, a lawyer for Chabad, said in a statement.
The statement said that Chabad intends to proceed with its claim for the return of the religious artifacts and use "all available legal means" to enforce any judgment against the Russian government.