Although Svalbard is under Norwegian sovereignty, the unique Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows citizens of signatory countries equal rights to exploit natural resources. Russia, along with Norway, maintain mining operations on Svalbard as a result. Russia maintains a consulate in Barentsburg. The town has a Norwegian mail address and Norwegian phone numbers. Source: Wikipedia
“Прибыли в Лонгиер на Шпицберген” - “Arrived in Longyearbyen on Svalbard” was the first tweet Dmitry Rogozin posted at noon on Saturday.
The Russian Vice-Prime Minister says nothing about how he traveled to Svalbard. A passenger plane from mainland Norway would involve passport control that would stop his entry. Charter planes directly from Russia frequently land at the airport in Longyearbyen without flying via any Norwegian airports.
Five hours later, Rogozin posted his first tweet from Barentsburg, the Russian mining town west of Longyearbyen on Spitzbergen. That tweet was more political:
”Баренцбург. Арктикуголь. Здесь русские и украинские шахтеры живут одним народом, одной верой и трудом”
- or in English: “Barentsburg. Arktikugol. Here Russian and Ukrainian miners live as one people, one faith, and labor.”
An hour later, Rogozin posted photos from the coal mine in Barentsburg. After that the Deputy Prime Minister went to a local sovenir shop where he ironically posted a photo of sovenir magnets with the letters “BB” for Barentsburg shown in Norwegian and Russian flag colors. Together with photos of Soviet symbolds from the local cultural palace, Rogozin wrote in the tweet: “
А норвежцы на снегоходах возят сюда своих туристов для изучения “советского наследия”
….or in English: “Norwegian snowmobile drivers goes here as tourists to explore the “Soviet heritage.”
The controversial Deputy Prime Minister is on Svalbard before he will fly north to a drifting Russian ice-station in the high Arctic.
EU’s sanctions list, also followed by Norway, was made in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March last year and later expanded in reponse to the growing unrest and war in Eastern Ukraine. The individuals on the list, including Dmitry Rogozin, are sanctioned because of what Norway and the EU claims are direct involvement in destabilizing the situation in Eastern Ukraine.
The Norwegian regulations published in Lovdata says that Rogozin is listed because he has “publicly called for the annexation of Crimea.”
Arrival unkown for Norway
Contacted by BarentsObserver about Rogozin’s arrival to Svalbard, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not aware of the Russian Deputy Prime Minister’s entry to the country. Press spokesman Frode Andersen could not immediately give any comments.
Dmitry Rogozin posted this photo on Saturday from outside Longyearbyen. (Photo: from Rogozin’s tweet.)