More Russians travelled to Finland during weekend, border data shows

  • World
  • Monday, 26 Sep 2022

FILE PHOTO: Ivan, 23, of Russia waits in a queue to have his passport checked at the Vaalimaa border check point in Virolahti, Finland, on September 25, 2022. Ivan who arrived in Finland without a visa wants to apply for asylum. Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Almost 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland during the weekend, an 80% rise from a week earlier, Finnish authorities said on Monday, as the influx of people continued in the wake of Russia's announcement of military mobilisation.

The border traffic had somewhat calmed early on Monday but remained busier than in the previous weeks, Captain Taneli Repo at Finland's southeastern border authority told Reuters.

"The queues continue to be a bit longer than they've usually been since the pandemic," he said.

Wednesday's announcement of Russia's first public mobilisation since World War Two, to shore up its faltering Ukraine war, has triggered a rush for the border, the arrest of protesters and unease in the wider population.

Young Russian men who spoke to Reuters after crossing into Finland via the Vaalimaa border station last week, some three hours by car from Russia's second-largest city St Petersburg, said they left out of fear of being drafted for the war.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine "a special military operation".

The Finnish government, wary of becoming a major transit nation, on Friday said it will stop all Russians from entering on tourist visas within the coming days, although exceptions may still apply on humanitarian grounds.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)

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