Several dozen Finns have not been allowed into the Russian Federation at the border crossings of Torfyanovka-Vaalimaa and Brusnichnoye-Nuyamaa since May 11, according to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Usually, Finns living near the border travel to Russia for gas stations and shops.
A resident of the Kymenlaakso region told reporters that on the morning of May 12 he went towards Vyborg to refuel and buy something in a store. The Russian border guards asked him for documents, and then gave him the forms of the questionnaire. In it, the Finn had to indicate his address, telephone number and destination in the Russian Federation.
In addition, the man had to write who issued him a Russian visa. He indicated that he had obtained it from the Finnish visa company. At the same time, due to ignorance of the Russian language, he could not correctly write the name of the inviting party – the Moscow company.
“I could not write the name of the inviter correctly, because I do not know the Russian language,” said the Finn.
As a result, his passport was returned to him, but the visa in it was canceled by the border control of the FSB in the Leningrad region. Before that, the Finn was in Russia literally a day before – and everything went without problems.
A similar situation occurred at the Torfyanovka-Vaalimaa border crossing. Three Finnish citizens had their visas revoked and returned. At the same time, an Estonian crossing the border there was able to cross it, saying that he was going to the dentist in St. Petersburg. People with dual citizenship also crossed the Russian border without any problems. At the Brusnichnoye-Nuijamaa border crossing point, the FSB border guards did not revoke another Finn’s visa, but forced him to sign a document banning him from entering Russia, according to a HS article.
“We have noticed that some people have returned from Russia, but we are not collecting information about why the trip of individuals was not successful,” Jukka Lukkari, deputy head of the border guard of Southeast Finland, told reporters.
Usually, Finns traveled to Russia for domestic purposes using a business visa, the article says. The Russian Federation issued single-entry tourist visas to the Finns, and a trip to a gas station or a store “is not considered a business trip,” which is the basis for crossing the border on a business visa. However, until recently, Russian border guards “looked through their fingers” at such short-term voyages, writes HS.
The end of Allegro
After the imposition of EU sanctions against the Russian Federation against the backdrop of the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, Russian-Finnish border relations became more complicated. In March 2022, the Finnish side canceled Allegro high-speed trains running on the St. Petersburg-Helsinki route. In August, it became known that the Finnish state-owned railway operator VR had written off the entire rolling stock of Allegro trains.close 100% Stringer/Global Look Press
“The Group has written off all Allegro-related rolling stock and spare parts for the total amount of 45.4 million euros,” the company said in a statement.
The train made it possible to get from St. Petersburg to Helsinki or back in just a couple of hours.
The Moscow Arbitration Court ordered the Finnish VR Group and the train owner Allegro to continue to fulfill their obligations under the agreements on the organization of railway communication between Finland and Russia. The lawsuit was filed by the Russian Railways – Russian Railways. The court also recovered in favor of Russian Railways a court penalty in the amount of about 10.1 million rubles. The Russian side also, after the imposition of sanctions, stopped sending goods to Finland due to the impossibility of their acceptance by the Finnish customs.
Smugglers and spies
“The huge increase in regulatory offenses is one of the most significant changes that have taken place in the past year,” the report says.
It is noted that the number of offenses due to sanctions, in respect of which a preliminary investigation was carried out, exceeded 300. At the same time, only a few cases per year were previously recorded. The Customs Administration noted that it detected 6,482 offenses in 2022, up 1,000 from a year earlier.
In addition, the Finnish Security Police (Supo) presented a report on the security situation in the country on March 30, 2023, which states that the number of Russian intelligence officers has halved in the past year.
“Last year, the Russian reconnaissance post was reduced to about half of its previous size,” Supo chief Antti Pelttari was quoted in the report as saying.
The expulsion of Russian intelligence officers and the denial of visas contributed to the reduction of the “Russian spy network”, as stated in the press release. Supo claims that the main tool of Russian intelligence was operations under diplomatic cover.
Consulates and a detour through Norway
Against this background, Finland began to close its consulates general in Russia. The consulate in Petrozavodsk was temporarily closed because “the number of tasks performed has been significantly reduced”, including the number of visa work. In January, the consulate in Murmansk was temporarily closed for a similar reason.
Since September 30 last year, Russians cannot enter Finland as tourists – but it is possible to cross the border with other types of visas. At the same time, in February, Yle reported that Finnish customs and border authorities cannot stop the flow of tourists from Russia who come to Finland for shopping.
Despite the ban on entry from the Russian Federation to Finland for tourism purposes, Russian tourists choose a longer, but absolutely legal route to get to Finnish shops – they cross the Russian-Norwegian border on a Schengen visa, since Norway has not introduced additional bans for Russian travelers. On the way back, tourists return in a short way – across the border of Finland and Russia.