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British orienteering team cross Russian border, down beers, get detained by border guards

A team of four British men who competed in last weekend’s Jukolan viesti orienteering competition were held by Finnish border guards after they illegally crossed the border into Russia on Sunday. The men apparently could not resist the temptation to cross the frontier for a few quick beers.

Rajavyöhyke alkaa lappeenrannan Vainikkalassa
Admission to the border zone is only permitted with a special permit. Image: Yle

A group of four men were held by Finnish Border Guards on Sunday on suspicion of border violations. The men had competed in last weekend’s Jukolan viesti orienteering competition and were driving from Eno to Joensuu when they decided to check out what life was like across the eastern border.

They stopped their car at the roadside and continued on foot through the border zone and into Russian territory.

"The men were on the Russian side for maybe 15 minutes. Across the border they had drunk several cans of beer," said lead investigator Timo Häkkinen of the Finnish Border Guards’ crime prevention unit.

A patrol from the Kolmikanta Border Guard station in Parikkala came across the foursome on the Finnish side of the eastern border. They were held on suspicion of committing border offences.

During questioning the men admitted to illegally crossing the border. They said that they had seen and understood the warning signs in the border zone. However they wanted to take the risk and continue, because they had been strongly tempted to go to Russia.

The men have since been allowed to return to the UK. A local prosecutor will charge them with border offences, which are usually punishable by fines.

Russian border officials were also informed about the case. Finnish officials said the men narrowly escaped a longer and more eventful sporting trip.

"If Russian Border Guards had come across the men in Russia, they would have been detained in Russia to answer for their deeds," Häkkinen remarked.

Last week a group of Germans found themselves in a similar position after deciding to venture across the border into Russia.

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