Russian convoy of ‘invaluable’ works of art seized at Finnish border

HERITAGE – The trucks were intercepted this weekend as they repatriated collections to Russia on loan from several museums, including the Hermitage. Their value was insured for more than 42 million euros.

The tone is rising between Finland and Russia. On 1 . a convoy with a collection of works of art worth 42 million euros was seized by their insurance companyer and April 2, the Finnish authorities announced on Wednesday. Inspected at the Vaalimaa border post, between Helsinki and St. Petersburgthree trucks contain a shipment, according to border guards “invaluable” of paintings, sculptures and antiquities belonging to various Russian museums. A shipment of luxury goods therefore determined that the Finnish customs confiscated the collection European sanctions suspending the transfer to Russia of such items

“It is important that sanctions monitoring is effective“, said the director of Finnish customs control, Sami Rakshit, during a press conference on Wednesday. The crates with the works of art were not hidden, according to the customs authorities. Ten people are suspected by the authorities of taking part in the clearing of the collection, while in Finland a preliminary investigation has been opened.The set consists of several dozen objects returning from Japan and Italy and is overseen by the Directorate of Museums of Finland. “Professionals are called in to move and store goods. We are not going to open the boxes”said Hannu Sinkkonen, director of customs control.

Victims of Sanctions

In March, Russia had decided to repatriate its works of art loaned to Italy or to France, in response to similar measures adopted by several European countries. In particular, the Hermitage Museum planned to reinstall its galleries in Saint Petersburg Titianpicasso and others canova loaned to various Milanese and Roman institutions.

The list of works seized in the convoy this weekend has not been specified. The Russian authorities, on the other hand, confirmed that these were objects in the possession of the Museum of the hermitagethe Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum – a handful of the most prestigious institutions in Russia.

The actions of the Finnish customs authorities led to a rapid response from the Russian authorities. “This situation is completely illegal.Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, before summoning the Finnish ambassador to Moscow on Thursday to demand the return of the objects. We demand that the Finnish authorities guarantee the full return of our artworks as soon as possible.† For their part, the Finnish authorities stated that they had not seized the seized works. “This is a temporary situation. Russian museums still have these works of art.explains Teemu Sepponen, the director of the export control unit of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Finnish customs have tightened their border controls since the European Union announced sanctions against Russia, under: the war in Ukraine† Initially conserved, luxury goods were added to the comprehensive list of products subject to export restrictions on March 15. A way to wear one “Clap to the Russian elite”preventing the richest “enjoy their lavish lifestyle as bombs fall on innocent people in Ukraine”stated on 11 March the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

Relations between Finland and Russia, historically horriblehave been further refreshed since the start of Russian operations in Ukraine on February 24. Finnish public support for possible NATO membership reaches record 62%, a poll published in mid-March reflects the country’s growing security concerns in the face of a Russian neighbor that has become unpredictable. During his trip to Brussels, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Thursday promised the government’s position on the of a hypothetical entry into the Atlantic alliance† Such a rapprochement “would be a strategic mistake” and a “terrible tragedy for all Finns”noted a Russian senator on Wednesday, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency, close to the Kremlin.

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