NATO country releases seized Russian property

The Finnish authorities have reportedly released Russian diplomatic property following a brief seizure

NATO country releases seized Russian property

NATO country releases seized Russian property

Helsinki had arrested a cultural center and diplomats’ apartments in connection to the EU sanctions

A temporary seizure of Russian state property in Helsinki has been lifted, the head of the Finnish Bailiff Department, Aki Virtanen, told the national media. The Finnish authorities had seized a Russian cultural center and diplomats’ apartments last week, in a move that prompted Moscow to intervene.

Helsinki found no reasons for the seizure of Russian property, Virtanen confirmed to the Finnish TV channel YLE. Initially, the Finnish authorities imposed a three-week restriction on the cultural center building, the surrounding plot of land, and the apartments of diplomats who work there.

According to Virtanen, the time was needed to check if any of the facilities were linked to any entities or individuals put on a blacklist by the EU. The Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported on Tuesday that the seven apartments in question are owned by Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian federal agency for foreign cooperation which was sanctioned by the EU last year.

The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded an explanation from Helsinki and insisted the facilities enjoyed diplomatic immunity. The Russian embassy in Helsinki also said that it was in “contact with the Finnish authorities over the issue.” The Finnish Foreign Ministry confirmed receiving the Russian note. Neither Finland nor Russia have officially commented on the release of property so far.

The US and its allies, including the EU, have imposed sweeping sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine. The restrictions particularly included asset seizure and personal sanctions against numerous Russian officials as well as governmental and non-governmental entities. Moscow has denounced the seizure of its assets abroad as “theft.”