The aim of this article is to offer an introduction to the Russian Federation’s cultural property legislation. More precisely, this article focuses on the civil and criminal law provisions for cultural property acquisition, commerce, and protection. First it offers an overview of the definition of cultural valuables, its status under Russia’s legislation, and its commercial turnover. It explains that cultural valuables constitute “res commercium”, with free commercial circulation within the territory of the State, i.e. it is not “res extra commercium”, albeit its legal status demonstrates it is subject to certain restrictions concerning the import and export of cultural property. It further outlines recent amendments to the Law on the export and import of cultural goods and explores the construction of inheritance funds as a potential option for managing cultural property and art collections. This article also argues that problems presented by the illegal circulation of cultural property are often resolved at the national level and courts play a major role either favouring bona fide purchasers or true owners. Hence the status of bona fide purchaser is addressed herein by way of interpretation of the court practice. Finally, from perspective of criminal law this article explains that Russia – in order to offer a better system for protecting cultural property against destruction and theft – is currently considering ratification of the 2017 Council of Europe’s Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property. The article is based on laws of the Russian Federation as of March 2019.
Santander Art and Culture Law Review 2018 2/2018 (4)