Finnish Authorities Seize Russian Artworks

Finnish customs officials have seized three consignments of valuable artworks bound for Russia last weekend amid the European Union’s sanctions against Russia.

The shipments “include works which cannot be valued, they are priceless,” customs enforcement director Hannu Sinkkonen said, adding that the insurance value of the works is over $46 million.

According to reports, the Finnish Heritage Agency will oversee the storage of the confiscated items until the government lifts the sanctions.

“Professionals have been consulted in the moving and storage of the goods. We are not going to open the packages,” Sinkkonen said.

In March, the E.U. introduced sanctions prohibiting the sale, supply, transfer, or export of luxury goods and artworks to Russia.

Authorities said ten suspects violated the sanctions to transport the art.

The Russian ministry of culture said the artworks – paintings, statues, and antiques, had been on loan to Italy.

“The enforcement of sanctions is part of our normal operations, and we always direct our controls based on risks. The shipments that have now come under criminal investigation were detected as part of our customary enforcement work,” Sami Rakshit, head of the enforcement department of Finnish Customs, said in a statement.

Russia’s ambassador to Finland is reportedly in touch with Finland’s foreign ministry about the situation.

“As for the arrested paintings, they will return and pay a penalty,” the Russian State Duma Speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, said. “Those who did this in Finland probably do not remember their history well.”

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