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Russian officials search for Finnish national after vehicle speeds through barrier at customs checkpoint

A Russian customs official received minor injuries when two men in a minibus pushed him out of their vehicle and drove through a checkpoint.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Russian officials are said to be still searching for two men who drove through a checkpoint at the Finnish-Russian border in the early hours of Wednesday morning. One of the men is said to be a Finnish citizen.

The incident occurred at the Vaalimaa-Torfyanovka border crossing between Finland and Russia in the southeast at about 2.00am.

The men apparently crossed from the Finnish to the Russian side of the border without incident. However, after going through passport control on the Russian side, instead of stopping at the customs checkpoint as instructed, the driver of the minibus sped through the barrier and out of the border station.

According to Russian investigators, the driver appeared to be holding an object that looked like a pistol as he threatened a customs official who had boarded the vehicle. Finnish news agency STT reported that the men had been told that their vehicle would be X-rayed.

In an ensuing struggle, the driver and a passenger pushed the official out of the moving vehicle. The customs official sustained minor injuries in the incident.

Russian officials are currently trying to determine if one of the men in the van was in possession of a firearm.

Vehicle abandoned, warrant issued

Police later found the vehicle abandoned near the village of Torfyanovka. However officials know the men’s identities and have issued a warrant for their arrest.

According to Russian online news service 47news, the men were Russian-born brothers, one of whom also held a Finnish passport.

Interfax news agency said that the man behind the wheel of the vehicle was 37 years old, while the younger man who sat in the back seat was 35 and had Finnish citizenship.

The state news agency Tass said that operations at the border station continued normally in spite of the incident.

The Finnish Border Guard declined comment on the incident, saying that it falls under the jurisdiction of Russian officials.

"This kind of drive-through did not happen on our side," director Aki Järvinen of the southeast Finland Border Guard told STT.

"I can say that the vehicle in question did pass through Vaalimaa, but I cannot disclose any information about a border crossing," he added.

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