Title: Closure of Finnish-Russian Border Crossings Sparks Concern Among Residents and Protests in Helsinki
In a bid to curb the influx of undocumented migrants and refugees into Finland, Helsinki has made the decision to close four out of the nine border crossings with Russia. While this move is aimed at enhancing security and border control, it has caused concern among residents who have relatives in Russia, who fear being cut off from their families.
The closure of these crossings has sparked protests and gathered significant attention. Several hundred protesters, including Russians living in Finland and dual nationals, gathered outside the parliament in Helsinki to voice their opposition to the closures. Participants chanted “open the borders” to express their discontent with the decision.
Many of the protesters expressed worries about not being able to access their relatives in Russia. One dual-national resident shared her concerns for her elderly parents in Saint Petersburg, fearing that the closures would hinder her ability to provide support and care for them.
Protesters drew comparisons to the historical “Iron Curtain,” which divided Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. They argue that the closures symbolize a new division and separation, disrupting the ties between the two countries and people.
While the protesters acknowledge Finland’s right to secure its borders, they question the effectiveness of these closures in curbing the entry of undocumented migrants. Instead, they believe that the decision could further complicate the situation and lead to other consequences.
Interestingly, the closure of the border crossings seems to have already had an impact on the number of asylum claims. Border guards in the southeastern district reported a significant decline in asylum-seekers. On the day following the closures, only two individuals sought asylum, compared to the 176 reported the day prior.
The Finland-Russia land border stretches for 1,340 kilometers and serves as a significant portion of the European Union’s external frontier. Helsinki accuses Moscow of directing migrants towards its crossings as a response to Finland’s growing defense ties with the United States. However, the Kremlin denies these allegations.
As concerns regarding the closure persist, the Finnish government will need to address the grievances of the residents and evaluate the overall impact of this decision. Striking a balance between border security and ensuring the smooth movement of individuals across borders will be crucial in finding a satisfactory resolution for all parties involved.
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