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Finland seizes Russian museums' artworks at the border

The items are insured to a value of 42 million euros. 

Vaalimaan raja-aseman ja tullin kyltti
Finland seized artworks at the Vaalimaa border crossing over the weekend. Image: Pyry Sarkiola / Yle
Yle News

Finnish Customs have seized artworks bound for Russia at the Vaalimaa border crossing.

Sami Rakshit, the director of the Customs' board's Enforcement Department, said that the artworks were worth some 42 million euros, according to insurance valuations.

According to Customs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the items fall under the sanctions the European Union has brought in against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Rakshit said the shipments include paintings as well as sculptures and are part of the movement of items between museums in Russia and Europe, and they are being held in temporary storage in the capital city region.

He declined to name museums that might have items currently in Customs' custody, after reports in Russian media that the Hermitage in St Petersburg had items confiscated at the Finnish border.

"The valuable items are now in a safe storage location," said Rakshit. "They are from several Russian museums, right now I don't remember the museums' names."

When pressed Rakshit did admit that the Hermitage name "sounded familiar".

Customs have started an investigation into suspected aggravated breaches of regulations, with 10 people currently under investigation.

At the press conference on Wednesday, Rakshit also said that some 22 luxury yachts had been seized by Finnish authorities. Among them, 21 were still in storage, while one had been handed over to debt collectors.

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