Finland will not be able to escape responsibility when it comes to the return of paintings and sculptures worth $46 million that belong to the Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage, and other museums in Russia, Moscow warned on Thursday. The statement came one day after Finnish Customs confirmed the seizure of the works, which were returning home from Italy and Japan.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Finnish Ambassador Antti Helantera and expressed “strong protest” over the actions.
“The Finnish side justified its actions citing sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union. We stressed that what is happening cannot be called anything but legal chaos. The return of cultural property which was traveling abroad within the framework of cooperation between museum institutions cannot be subject to restrictions,” the ministry said in a statement.
It added that while Moscow expects a “prompt decision” from Finland regarding the return of Russia’s property, it is the responsibility of the authorities in Helsinki to keep the artwork safe.