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Traveller stuck between Finland and Russia, can’t cross either border

People have been turned away from the frontier since it was closed this week. 

Tullin ja rajavartiolaitoksen liikennemerkit rajapuomilla.
One traveller's journey was interrupted in south-east Finland this week. Image: Kari Saastamoinen/ Yle
Yle News

A traveller has been stuck between Finland and Russia since Wednesday, after the two countries introduced border restrictions a day apart.

Russia began preventing non-Russians from entering at midnight on Tuesday and Finland did the same 24 hours later. That left the traveller stranded, as they are not a Finnish or Russian citizen, but live in Russia with their family.

That is why they were able to leave Russia and enter Finland on Wednesday, but not return to Russia.

"Apparently they just didn’t know what had happened that day on both sides of the border," said Juha Kivelä, deputy commander of the south-east Finland border guard.

The traveller is waiting at the Vaalimaa border crossing to find out how Finland’s police force is going to deal with their case.

Kivelä declined to comment further on the case, but said that there are cases like this from time to time.

"A typical example is that a person arranges their own transport to their home country at their own cost," said Kivelä. "The person for example travels to their home country at their own cost via Helsinki-Vantaa airport."

The situation arose because Russia is only allowing Russian citizens to return to Russia. Finland will allow non-citizens with a permanent residence permit to return to Finland from abroad.

Since the borders were shut, several people have tried to cross into Russia, but Kivelä says they were turned back.

Finland’s western border to Sweden has also been closed this week. That required the transfer of dozens of border guards to transfer from the eastern frontier, as the Swedish border was not previously guarded.

Those transfers happened this week and volunteers were quickly found for the move, according to Kivelä.

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