Russian APEC boat makes political splash in US

An old dispute over historic books has forced the Russian sailing ship Nadezhda to cancel its goodwill visit to the US port of San Francisco, California.

The captain’s decision was motivated by the “threat of the ship’s arrest” allegedly aimed at pushing Russia into returning the so-called Schneerson Collection – the legendary body of historic books and documents gathered by the dynasty of the Schneerson rabbis, who were the vassals of the Russian Empire back in the day.

In 2010, the US District Court in Washington ruled that Russia must return the collection to the Judaic Chabad Lubavitch movement. When Russia refused to send the books to the US, the movement’s activists warned that they would seek for this court verdict to be enforced in all possible ways after “a reasonable term” expires.

The Russian authorities consider the US court ruling unlawful, pointing out that the book collection has never left Russia.

The goodwill visit’s head said the boat’s crew was unaware that the verdict had entered into force until the last moments.

Maritime expert Mikhail Voitenko told RT that the cancellation of Nadezhda’s visit could also be due to the blacklist on US officials published by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response to the so-called Magnitsky list.

The Nadezhda will now continue a voyage over the Pacific en route to the Mexican port Ensenada, where the ship will replenish its stocks of drinking water, fuel and food.

After the visit to Mexico she is scheduled to sail to the 2011 APEC summit venue in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Japanese port of Yokohama, which hosted the APEC summit in 2010.

The goodwill sailboat set out from Vladivostok for a voyage over the Pacific on September 14. The voyage dedicated to an APEC summit in Vladivostok in 2012.

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