FSB border guard service informs that the change in the zone is made with effect from January this year. The new, and smaller, border security zone towards Norway is plotted north of both Nikel and Zapolyarny. The checkpoint at Titovka is gone, making it possible for all Russians to drive into the Pechenga area without document control.
The physical control regime into, and inside the boundaries of the new defined zone is however still comprehensive. One new checkpoint is set up north of Nikel in addition to the existing checkpoint while passing the barbered-wire fence, a 20 minute drive before the actual border to Norway.
When BarentsObserver made a return drive from Murmansk to Norway last week, there where however no document control before the official border-crossing point at Borisoglebsk.
“It seems like Russian authorities have adjusted the conditions to fit the terms for local border traffic in a good and clearly beneficial way seen with Norwegian eyes,” says Frode Berg to BarentsOberver. He is inspector with the Norwegian Border Commissioner and meets regularly with Russian border officials.
“The adjustments made in the border zone is made so that local border traffic will not come in conflict with the regulations for coming and going in the border zone,” says Frode Berg.
Local border traffic is the formal term for visa free travel between Norway and Russia supposed to enter force later this year. The visa freedom applies to citizens living in near border territories in the municipality of Sør-Varanger and Pechenga rayon.
Read more about the latest developments in the border-crossing regime beteen Norway and Russia in the newly published book Barents Review 2012. Click here for the chapter Barents roadmap towards visa-freedom.