Art on loan is not subject to sanctions, the Finnish Foreign Ministry says
Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow © Getty Images
Works of art on loan from Russian museums will return home after being seized in Finland, as they are not covered by the EU sanctions, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Following the diplomatic row over the seizure of artwork valued at around $46 million, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement explaining that the newly adopted EU sanctions against Russia allow member states to issue permits for the transit of “cultural objects that are part of official cultural cooperation with Russia.”
“The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will issue a permit for transports stopped in Finland last weekend that contain works of art owned by the Russian museums and returning to Russia from Italy and Japan,” the statement, published on the day the EU approved its fifth round of sanctions, reads.
On Friday morning, Russian Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova said the paintings and sculptures, some of which belong to the world-renowned Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, could be back in Russia this weekend.
“The European Commission clarified that the exhibits which participated in European exhibitions are not on the sanctions list,” Lyubimova wrote on Telegram.
The seizure of the Russian-owned works was confirmed by Finnish Customs on Wednesday, citing a “paragraph” of the EU sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its military attack on Ukraine. The next day, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Finnish Ambassador Antti Helantera and expressed “strong protest” over the actions, which Moscow described as “legal chaos.”