Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Russia/U.S. Cultural Exchanges and the Contested Jewish Archives

Sophia Kishkovsky has an interesting piece in the Art Newspaper called "Russia and US continue to discuss cultural stand-off," which describes ongoing Russia/U.S. negotiations over cultural exchanges.  Russia earlier suspended exhibitions of its cultural property in the United States and has linked the issue to the Chabad v. Russian Federation case, in which - as discussed in a earlier post - Russia is facing possible sanctions for failing to comply with a court order to hand over the historical Jewish archive and library.  Kishkovsky's report begins:
Mikhail Shvydkoy, the Kremlin’s international cultural envoy and Tara Sonenshine, the US’s new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, have discussed the cultural stalemate between Russia and the US over sacred Jewish books. Russian state television has reported that Shvydkoy said that he and Sonenshine agreed in April that they “must reach an intergovernmental agreement as quickly as possible that would guarantee the security of Russian cultural treasures exhibited in the US”.
Shvydkoy, who was at the US state department to discuss cultural, educational, sports and media exchanges between the two countries, said that he and Sonenshine had “discussed separately those difficulties that exist in Russian-American relations as a result of the famous suit over the Schneerson collection”, according to the Rossiya television channel.
As for the Chabad case, there has thus far been no activity on the federal court docket since Chabad's March 2012 filing that invited Judge Lamberth to impose sanctions.