Thursday, October 5, 2023

Looks like Russia is blocking gas trips to Finns with business visas


Many Finns who have traveled to Russia in recent days have been turned back, and some have had their visas invalidated.

15.5. 23:08

The southeastern Finland border guard told STT that at least 23 Finns who had traveled to Russia were turned back at the eastern border between Friday and Sunday.

Ten conversions came to the attention of the authorities on Friday, eight on Saturday and five on Sunday. Apart from this, the matter of some religious conversion came to the attention of the officials on Thursday. There may be more conversions, as not all conversions necessarily inform the Finnish border authorities.

The Southeastern Finland Border Guard is responsible for the three largest international border crossing points on the eastern border, i.e. Imatra, Nuijamaa and Valimaa.

The conversion appears to be about petrol tourists traveling on business visas, whose activities Russia was already angered by. According to Russian laws, a simple gas or shopping trip is not a business trip, but a tourist trip. Russia now issues one-time visas for tourist visits, and each costs about one hundred euros.

Helsingin Sanomat, which was the first to report on the matter, interviewed a man from Kimenlaakso who was going on a refueling and shopping trip in the direction of Vypur on Friday. His visa was cancelled, however, on Wednesday the same visa became valid without any problems.

small quantities

The conversions that have now begun are a new phenomenon, but the number of conversions is small in relation to the total number of passengers, says Lieutenant Colonel Jukka Lukkeri, deputy commander of the Border Guard for Southeast Finland.

For example, on Sunday, about 4,200 people crossed the border into southeastern Finland, of whom a little over a thousand were Finns, according to Lukkari. They either went to Russia or came back from there.

– If some people out of more than a thousand people have not been able to reach Russia, it is not a big deal. While on some days, there have been more of these than the normal levels, the numbers are not large in percentage terms, says Lukkari.

Luccari believes that travelers are likely to be quite sensitive to the fact that they have been turned back on the Russian side of the border, but not everyone does. So there are probably more cases than the authorities are aware of.

– In the short term, there is a slight increase in it, and it is a clearly observed phenomenon compared to the previous ones.

On the Finnish side of the border, the conversion does not lead to measures and nothing has changed.

– We do our own departure and entry checks. This is purely a matter arising out of the inspection activities of Russia, if a person cannot travel there.

Minor changes to inspection practices are not necessarily notified to Finland in advance.

The State Department has urged all travel to Russia to be avoided after Russia launched a full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine last year.

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