November 30, 2023

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credit…Finnish customs

The Finnish Customs Service said on Tuesday that the Finnish customs authorities have confiscated three shipments containing artworks being transported to Russia from galleries in Italy and Japan, on suspicion of being subject to European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Wednesday.

Shipments containing paintings and sculptures stopped at Valima, a border crossing between Finland and Russia, on Friday and Saturday, he said. Press release On the website of the Finnish Customs Service, Tulli.

Service spokesman Mika Barkkonen emphasized restraint.

Mr. Barkkonen said in a phone interview that the shipments were insured at 42 million euros ($46 million) but gave no further details.

“The artworks were transferred from Italy and Japan to Russia via Finland,” the statement posted on the website said. “They have been shown in exhibitions.”

Pictures provided by the Customs Department Display shipments in large wooden containers.

Sami Rakshit, director of the Finnish Customs Enforcement Department, gave some details about the confiscation at a press conference on Wednesday. According to Reuters, he told reporters that the works included antiquities and were on temporary loan from Russian museums and art galleries.

The Russian news agency TASS reported that the artwork on display in Italy has been shown in two exhibitions: one in the Piazza Scala gallery in Milan, with pieces from the State Hermitage Museum, Tsarskoye Selo Museum, Pavlovsk and Gatchina; and another in the Museum of Modern Art in Udine, with works from the State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Museum of the East.

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The Customs Service said Finland’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the EU sanctions list “contains a clause on works of art” and that the ministry had launched a preliminary investigation into whether the works stopped in Valima conflict with EU sanctions.

Finnish authorities said they would also consult with the European Commission in Brussels.

“The preliminary investigation will continue in the form of information gathering, international cooperation and requests for mutual assistance,” the statement posted on the customs services website said. Finnish Customs aims to complete the investigation as soon as possible.

Ivan Nikiburnko Contribute to the preparation of reports.