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dual nationals, collateral victims of tensions with Russia

Finland’s southeastern border with Russia has been closed since the start of the weekend. A decision taken by Helsinki after the arrivals of more than 400 asylum seekers in a few weeks. Unprecedented for Finland, which sees this as a new attempt at destabilization orchestrated by the Kremlin.

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From our special correspondent in Finland,

Some 3,000 Russian-Finnish dual nationals live in the town of Lappeenranta, around thirty kilometers from the border. This Sunday, around 200 of them met at -2 degrees in front of the municipality to demand the reopening of borders. All of them still have relatives in Russia. Especially elderly parents who cannot join them.

This is the case with Michael. Her mother lives in St. Petersburg, two or three hours away. This Russian, who fled Russia to avoid being drafted into the army to fight the war in Ukraine, thinks the government is making a mistake.

I have all the necessary papers, I pay my bills… But no, I still can’t cross the border “, he laments. From now on, if he wants to go see his mother, he has to travel two days to be able to cross into Russia.

Jeannamarta doesn’t understand either. This 14-year-old moved here with her parents and her brother four years ago, and she sees this closure as an injustice: “We made a lot of effort to obtain Finnish citizenship. My dream is to study here at university. But I want both, to study here and to see my family in Russia. Why don’t I have the right to do so? »

Russian-Finnish demonstrators in Lappeenranta in Finland, to demand the reopening of the borders between the two countries, Sunday November 19, 2023.
Russian-Finnish demonstrators in Lappeenranta in Finland, to demand the reopening of the borders between the two countries, Sunday November 19, 2023. © Julien Chavanne / RFI

Many border crossings despite the war in Ukraine

According to border guard figures, between 4,000 and 5,000 people cross the border every month. The war in Ukraine has not reduced family exchanges between the two countries.

Evkaterina wants it to continue. Having lived in Finland for 12 years, she is at the origin of this event. “ If the situation does not change, of course, we will continue to fight, we will try to see our leaders and explain to them. We will do everything we can »she assures

If dual nationals are the collateral victims of tensions with Russia, the first are of course asylum seekers. The posts still open in the north of Finland are almost inaccessible to them, it was down to -10 degrees.

Several dozen migrants still tried to cross the southeast border despite the barriers.

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