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Putin Says Impossible to Return Disputed Jewish Library to U.S.

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said returning a collection of historic Jewish texts to the U.S. is “impossible,” offering to house the books and documents in a Jewish museum and tolerance center in Moscow.

“Perhaps someday we’ll be able to do it, but now we are absolutely not ready for it,” Putin said today in the Russian capital at a meeting on ethnic relations in the Jewish museum. Transferring the collection risks opening “a Pandora’s box,” creating a precedent for surrendering ownership of state property, he said.

A U.S. judge last month ordered Russia to pay $50,000 a day until it complies with his earlier ruling to return a collection of religious books and manuscripts, seized by the Soviet government and now part of Russia’s state library, the AP reported. The collection is sought by Chabad-Lubavitch, a Jewish group based in New York.

Russia has warned it will retaliate if U.S. authorities seize its government assets to enforce the court ruling.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anton Doroshev in Moscow at adoroshev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Abelsky at pabelsky@bloomberg.net

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