Score a big one for religious freedom -- a judge just nailed the Russian Government with huge fines for refusing to turn over some priceless books and manuscripts that were stolen from the preeminent worldwide Jewish cultural organization ... TMZ has learned.
Chabad sued the Russian Federation for illegally refusing to turn over thousands of religious books and manuscripts which recorded the group's core teachings. In 2010, a U.S. federal judge ruled the Russians had to return the artifacts, but the Russkies said niet.
Lawyers for Chabad -- Marshall Grossman and Seth Gerber of the law firm of Bingham, McCutchen -- just won a huge victory. A federal judge ruled today that the Russian Government must pay Chabad $50,000 a day for each day they refuse to fork over the books.
The penalties will amount to $18 mil a year.
Interestingly, the Obama Administration through the State Dept. went to court to oppose an award of sanctions, arguing they would screw up U.S./Russian relations. The judge didn't buy it.