Putin: Chabad texts might move to Jewish museum

Russia will not give disputed historical Jewish texts to the United States but may move them to Moscow’s newly opened Jewish museum, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Since 1991, leaders of a Brooklyn-based Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish group have been trying to regain possession of the library of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, who led the worldwide Chabad movement before his death in 1950.

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 Chabad-Lubavitch in New York.

Russian courts have ruled that the library is the property of the Russian state, Putin told the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

On Feb. 19, during his first visit to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow since its opening last year, Putin said the collection may be moved from the archive of Moscow’s Lenin Library to the museum.

A member of the Jewish center’s board of trustees, Viktor Vekselberg, reportedly said the center was ready to accept and house the collection. — jta