Finland Prohibits Entry of Russian Paintings to Country Due to Sanctions

More than 200 exhibits of the State Hermitage Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery and other Russian museums, which were transported from Paris to Hermitage, were detained at the border post “Vaalimaa — Torfyanovka” on the border of Finland and Russia.

The Finnish customs service does not allow masterpieces to be transferred to Russia due to sanctions imposed by the EU. Among the “detainees” are the paintings by Manet, Rodin, Monet, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse, Repin, Korovin, Serov, Malevich, Konchalovsky.

Earlier, it was reported that the drivers transporting the paintings were not allowed out of the cars for several hours.

“Two cars of the company ‘Khepri’, which serve our Leningrad Hermitage, and one car of the company in which my brother works. All were detained by the Finnish border guards in the city of Helsinki, in the port,” the brother of one of the drivers told, adding that the paintings were delivered from France by plane.

An employee of the Hermitage press service, in a conversation with Delovoi Peterburg, said that information about the movement of exhibits is not disclosed “for the purposes of exceptional security.”

“They asked me to get in the car and go back to the city of Helsinki. Now my brother is being interrogated by the competent authorities. They explain this by the fact that works of art are being illegally exported, which have been seized by the European Union,” the brother of one of the drivers said.

In mid-March, it became known that France also refused to return masterpieces from the collection of philanthropist Ivan Morozov, which had been exhibited in the Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris since September last year. The exhibition ended on March 3, but the transportation of paintings to Russia was delayed due to sanctions. Later, with reference to the government of the country, it was reported that the exhibits would guarantee the safety of French citizens living in the Russian Federation.

Russia tries to protect its property and with this purpose, the Director of the National Historical Heritage Protection Fund, Ivan Melnikov, sent a letter directly to the Finnish president, Sauli Niinisto, with the requirement to return Russia’s cultural heritage to where it belongs.

Dear Mr. President of Finland!

On April 3, 2022, the Finnish authorities detained vehicles with objects of cultural and historical heritage belonging to the Russian Hermitage and Tretyakov Gallery museums in the port of Helsinki.

The Foundation for the Protection of National Historical Heritage believes that this decision is illegal from the point of view of international law and violates the rights of citizens of the Russian Federation to cultural heritage in the form of movable values.

The Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by the United Nations General Conference on November 16, 1972, as well as the Convention on Measures aimed at prohibiting the Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the Declaration of Principles of International Cooperation in the Field of culture, adopted at the 14th UN General Assembly (1966), acts, adopted by the UNESCO General Conferences, in particular in 1964, and other international legal acts directly indicate the need to respect the rights of peoples to cultural heritage, property and values, both to their own and the cultural heritage of all peoples, and also do not allow the illegal transfer of ownership of national cultural and historical values.

I ask you and consider it necessary to conduct an investigation in connection with the information presented in my appeal and take the necessary measures to return national cultural values to their rightful rightholders - Russian museums as soon as possible.

Sincerely, Director 
National Historical Heritage Protection Fund 
Ivan Melnikov

Ru-Main, 04.04.2022 
Source: Delovoi Peterburg 

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