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US judge partly grants Russian counterclaim over Jewish library

WASHINGTON, December 5 (RIA Novosti) -- A U.S. district judge has partly upheld a Russian government plea to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a Hasidic Jewish movement to recover 18th century religious writings, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Tuesday.

Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that an American court has no jurisdiction over a Moscow library of religious books, collected since 1772 and comprising over 12,000 volumes and 381 manuscripts.

At the same time, he said the plaintiffs may sue to recover more than 25,000 pages of manuscripts, letters and other materials belonging to the Scheersohn dynasty in Russia.

In addition to the Russian government, the lawsuit, filed in 2004 in California by Chabad-Lubavitch, a Hasidic Jewish movement, names among the defendants a number of Russian state organizations, including the Ministry of Culture, the Russian State Library, and the Russian State Military Archive.

The documents were taken to Latvia and later Poland after Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn fled Russia in 1927. Following the outbreak of World War II, Schneersohn fled to the United States in 1940, leaving behind the archives, which were subsequently seized by the Nazis.

In 1945, Soviet troops returned the documents to Moscow, where they were stored at the Russian State Military Archive.

Chabad-Lubavitch, is one of the largest Jewish Orthodox movements worldwide, especially in the United States and Israel. The movement originated in Belarus in Eastern Europe, then part of Imperial Russia under the Tsars.

Chabad traces its roots back to the beginnings of Hasidic Judaism.

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