EU country seizes Russian art citing sanctions
Apr. 6, 2022
Finland announced on Wednesday that its customs service had seized Russian artworks returning from being loaned to exhibitions in the EU and Japan, citing EU sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. The paintings and sculptures in question belong to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, among others, and their value has been estimated at $46 million or more.
The seizure took place over the weekend at Vaalimaa, the busiest crossing point on the Finnish-Russian border, but Finnish Customs confirmed it at a press conference on Wednesday.
“The shipments that are now under criminal investigation were detected as part of our regular enforcement work,” said Sami Rakshit, director of compliance at Finnish Customs.
The agency justified the seizure by saying that “a paragraph” of the EU sanctions against Russia, imposed in the course of the last six weeks due to the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine, referred to works of art.
Unspecified number of paintings and sculptures were being stored “generally regarded for its value, features, and safety,” pending a full investigation, Finnish Customs said. The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will consult the European Commission on the fate of the works of art.
According to Russian media, the trucks contained more than 200 Hermitage and Tretyakov paintings that had been loaned to the “Grand Tour: Dreams of Italy from Venice to Pompeii” exhibition in Milan, Italy. Another shipment was on display in Japan and was also on its way home via Finland.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that these works are returned to Russia,” Mikhail Shvidkoy, the Kremlin’s special envoy for international cultural cooperation, told reporters, blaming the “Quite complicated” geopolitical situation for the seizure. “But I hope that all the things that were taken abroad will return to the Russian Federation in due time.”
Russian conductors, performers, artists and even cats and trees have been subjected to “cancellation” by the United States and its allies, after Moscow sent troops to Ukraine in February.
In the latest incident, Britain’s National Gallery changed the title of an 1890 painting by French Impressionist Edgar Degas from “Russian Dancers” to “Ukrainian Dancers” after a campaign by Ukrainian activists.
Published at worldnationnews.com
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