Aili Keskitalo arrested in Murmansk

Aili Keskiltalo talking to BarentsObserver at the Arctic Parliamentarian conferance in Murmansk on Thursday.

MURMANSK: Member of the Norwegian Sami Parliament arrested by immigration authorities after participating at the annual meeting in the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region.


The well-known Sami politician had just arrived back to the hotel when she was arrested by the immigration authorities in Murmansk Thursday around 17.00.

Just minutes before, Aili Keskitalo told BarentsObserver that she was satisfied with the Parliamentarian meeting Thursday where she participated and discussed international cooperation in the Arctic.

The meeting that took place in the Regional Administration’s building on Lenin Prospekt gathered deputies from Canada, Norway, Russia, Iceland, Denmark/Greenland and the European Parliament, in addition to observers from around Europe and the Arctic.

Also Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun and regional Duma deputies in Murmansk participated. The Russian Foregin Ministry was also represented.

Aili Keskitalo represented the Sami Parliamentary Council at the meeting, an organization working on behalf of the three Sami Parliaments in Norway, Finland and Sweden, in addition to two Sami organizations on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

Aili Keskitalo was taken by the police to a local office where she was interrogated and hold till around 21.00 Thursday evening local time. She was released after signing a protocol and given a fine.

The Norwegian Consulate General in Murmansk has been working with the case all Thursday evening.

“We were informed around 17.00 that she was arrested and taken to an unknown location,” says Consul General Ole Andreas Lindeman to BarentsObserver. 

“Immigration authorities have informed us that she had a wrong type of visa to Russia.” Lindeman continues.

It is illegal to use tourist visas if a person is working, participates in a meeting or conference. According to Russian legislation, everyone participating at a meeting need a business-, target- or offical visa.

Earlier this week, four other Norwegians were arrested in Murmansk because of visa rule violations. They represented Norwegain oil and gas partners and participated at a INTSOK workshop. 

“We have seen several such cases with Norwegian visitors here in Murmansk lately. Recently, official participants in the Norwegian, Russian energy dialog were arrested and interrogated for hours because they participated at a meeting here in Murmansk, but entered the country with tourist-visas,” says Ole Andreas Lindeman.

The Norwegian Consul General urges tour operators to be aware of the fact that Russian authorities are tightening the practice.

“I will strongly recommend that all Norwegian tour operators take this seriously. Don’t issue tourist visas to people that are planning to go to Russia for meetings or a conference,” says Lindeman.

Aili Keskitalo is traveling back to Norway on Friday.