Border traffic doubles
The numbers of people crossing the borders between Russia, Norway and Finland in the north have doubled over the last two years.
74.740 border crossings took place in the first four months between Norway and Russia, a doubling since 2010, according to statistics given to BarentsObserver from the Norwegian police in charge of immigration control.
In April, 18.687 border crossings were counted at Storskog border station, up from 16.021 the same month last year. Storskog, Borisoglebsk is the only land border crossing point between Norway and the Kola Peninsula and the northernmost border checkpoint between the Schengen-area and Russia.
The peaking traffic follows Norway’s liberalization of the visa-regime with Russia in the north. Citizens from the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk region can today get multiple-entry visa to Norway valid for several years without holding a prior invitation from a Norwegian partner. The traffic is expected to peak even more as the two countries by the end of May introduce visa-free travel for the inhabitants in a 30 kilometer zone on each side of the border.
The booming traffic started soon after Norway in 2010 introduced liberalization of the visa-regime. Over the first four month 2010, 39.103 border-crossings were counted, while it in the same period this year peaked to 74.740, nearly a doubling over the two year period.
Border-crossings between Russia’s Kola Peninsula and Finnish Lapland at Salla checkpoint have also doubled since 2010. From the start of 2012 to the end of April, a total of 70.111 border-crossings were counted at Salla, up from 35.212 in the same four months period 2010, the statistics from Finland’s border guard reads. At the Lotta, Raja-Joosepin check-point, 43.978 border-crossings were counted from January to April this year.