Finland seizes art shipments destined for Russia, citing EU sanctions : NPR

0

A shipment of valuable artwork has been seized at Finland’s border with Russia, with customs officials citing sanctions stemming from the war in Ukraine.

Finnish customs


hide caption

toggle caption

Finnish customs


A shipment of valuable artwork has been seized at Finland’s border with Russia, with customs officials citing sanctions stemming from the war in Ukraine.

Finnish customs

Finland says customs officers seized works of art worth millions of dollars from shipments destined for Russia in violation of European sanctions.

Finnish Customs Agency Tulli said wednesday that his agents detained three shipments of paintings and sculptures over the weekend at Vaalimaa, a border crossing between Finland and Russia.

The works were being transported from museums in Italy and Japan, where they were on loan from Russia, officials said. Customs Enforcement Director Hannu Sinkkonen said at a press conference that the work has been valued at the equivalent of more than $46 million for insurance purposes, although some of it is “priceless”.

“Professionals were consulted for the movement and storage of goods,” Sinkkonen said. “We are not going to open packages.”

The Finnish customs agency says the works will remain in a warehouse for the time being and are being stored according to their value, characteristics and security. Pictures on his site show wooden crates of varying heights and sizes, marked “fragile” and bearing Cyrillic labels.

The customs agency is also investigating with the Finnish Foreign Ministry – which it says will look into the matter with the European Commission. The investigation will involve information gathering, international cooperation and requests for mutual assistance, officials said.

European Union sanctions unveiled against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine include a ban on the sale and transfer of works of art. Sami Rakshit, director of Finland’s customs enforcement department, said works of art are considered luxury items, Reuters reports.

“Enforcement of sanctions is part of our normal operations and we always direct our controls based on risk,” Rakshit said in a statement. “The shipments now under criminal investigation were detected as part of our regular law enforcement work.”

Officials told reporters that 10 people are suspected to violate the sanctions by carrying art.

Citing the Russian Moskva news agency, Reuters reports that the artworks had been loaned to Italy by major Russian galleries, including the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and that those lent to Japan came from the Pushkin State of Moscow. Museum of Fine Arts.

News of the seizure comes just over two weeks after Finnish customs officials detained 21 yachts suspected of belonging to Russian oligarchs and others under EU sanctions.

This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog.

Share.

Comments are closed.