The exhibition [now under threat from the Russian government], which includes works from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and Moscow's Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, is currently in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Some of the art was taken from private collections after the 1917 revolution, leading to fears of seizure.
Gordon Brown and Vladimir Putin are scheduled to attend the show's opening.
Former shadow arts minister Hugo Swire, who used to work for the National Gallery, told the BBC it was difficult to see what was behind the situation.
The Conservative MP, who organised an exhibition of Russian art in London during the Gorbachev era, said issues such as the Litvinenko row or the closure of British Council offices in Russia could be to blame.
"I think this is a situation that certainly the Royal Academy were nervous might happen," he said.
"I had a discussion with the then director about this very situation, and the government I don't think have been very quick to come forward to address the potential of something like this happening."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Behind the Scenes
The BBC, in a slightly disingenuous report on the latest deterioration in Russo-British relations: