Images provided by the customs service showed the shipments in large wooden containers.
Sami Rakshit, the director of the Finnish customs’ enforcement department, gave some details about the seizure at a news conference on Wednesday. According to Reuters, he told reporters that the works had included antiquities and that they had been temporarily on loan from Russian museums and art galleries.
The Russian news agency Tass reported that the artwork shown in Italy had been featured in two exhibitions: one, at the Piazza Scala Gallery in Milan, with pieces from the State Hermitage and the Tsarskoye Selo, Pavlovsk and Gatchina museum reserves; and another at the Museum of Modern Art in Udine, with works from the State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Museum of the East.
The customs service said that Finland’s Foreign Ministry had confirmed that the European Union’s sanctions list “contains a paragraph on works of art” and that the ministry had started a preliminary investigation into whether the works stopped at Vaalimaa contravened E.U. sanctions.
The Finnish authorities said they would also consult with the European Commission in Brussels.
“The preliminary investigation will continue in the form of information gathering, international cooperation and requests for mutual assistance,” the statement on the customs services’ website said. “Finnish Customs aims to complete the investigation as soon as possible.”
Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.