Visas and border crossings peak
October was a busy month at the borders from the Kola Peninsula to Lapland and Finnmark. Finland issued 69 percent more visas in Murmansk compared with same period last year.
- Residents in the Murmansk region have more money than in previous years, which they can spend on vacation, says Finland’s Consul in Murmansk Martti Ruokokoski . By the end of October, the Finnish consulate office in Murmansk has issued 32.252 visas to residents of Russia’s Kola Peninusla. In the same period last year the consulate issued 19.062 visas.
Finnish border guards at Salla guide the traffic to ensure the a smooth flow.
Photo: Finnish Border Guards
More visas trigger more border crossings. In October, 12.846 border crossings were counted at Salla border check point. Another 6.756 border crossings took place at Raja-Joosepi, Finland’s northernmost border check point to Russia, reads the statistics from Finland’s Border Guards. Put together, the increase at the two border check points was 43 percent compared with October 20110.
Also the Norwegian, Russian border had a sharp increase in border crossings in October, although not as much as the Finnish, Russian northern borders. 17.645 border crossings were counted at Borisoglebsk, Storskog border check points in October, up 39 percent compared with October 2010, reads the statistics posted at the portal of the regional police in Eastern Finnmark.
Finland is said to have a more liberal visa-policy than Norway for Russian citizens.
- At this rate, we are about to issue some 52.000 visas, says Consul Martti Ruokokoski, pointing to the fact that November and December traditionally are the two busiest months since Russians are planning for the Christmas vacation period.
Finnish Consulate branch office in Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
The Norwegian Consulate General in Murmansk has not made public their visa statistics for October, but wrote in a note to BarentsObserver in August that it is expected that some 20.000 visas will be issued in total for 2011. That is less than half of what Finland expects to reach this year. The Norwegian Consulate General issues visas also for Arkhangelsk and Nenets Regions, while the Finnish branch-office in Murmansk only issues visas for citizens of the Kola Peninsula.
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Finland also issues visas in Petrozavodsk, St. Petersburg and Moscow. The number of visas issued are increasing all over, but in percentage the most growth occurs in Murmansk, reads a press-release from the Finnish Consulate branch-office in Murmansk issued on Tuesday.
The sharp increase in border-crossers continues in November. Last Friday was all time high this year for the Salla border with 1.231, reports Lapin Kansa. 729 border crossings were counted at Raja-Joosepi .
At the Storskog, Borisoglebsk border, more than 1.600 border crossers were counted last Saturday, reports Sør-Varanger Avis. Most of the crossings on Saturdays are Russians on one-day shopping tour to the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes and each person is therefore counted two times the same day.
Read also: Russian shoppers are multimillion business
Russian, Norwegian border. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
Finnish Border Guards estimates a year-end total of 160.000 border-crossings at Salla and 100.000 at Raja-Joosepi. Norwegian police estimates a year-end total of more than 180.000 border crossings at Storskog, Borisoglebsk.