Egert Belitšev, head of the border guard department of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), said on the "Terevisioon" morning show that while the number of Russian citizens crossing the Estonian border has fallen, more people than previously are turned back.
"In a situation where we had 11,500 crossings a week in late August, this had dropped by 4,000 to 7,500 crossings last week," Belitšev said on ETV.
He also said that because border crossings are up in Finland where they reached 35,000 last week, the PPA has ramped up checks in ports.
"We checked 120 vehicles and did not find a single violation. These were vehicles with Russian plates or those we had reason to believe were carrying Russian citizens. Everyone coming to Estonia via Finland had legal grounds for being in Estonia, and most of them were on their way to other countries."
Belitšev said that the 7,500 people who crossed into Estonia from Russia last week were mainly Russian citizens who have a valid Estonian residence permit. "They may work in Estonia or be returning from a shopping trip to Russia," he said in terms of reasons people might have for crossing the border.
At the same time, cases where people are turned back on the border are also growing. Last week, around 250 Russian citizens were turned back for not having a legal basis for entering Estonia, up from a weekly average of 50-60.
"Usually, Russian citizens can cross the Estonian border if they have an EU residence permit or close relatives in the country – parents or children, while cousins are no longer counted as such.
There are those who try to cross the border at all costs. For example, a man trying to cross the Narva Bay on a SUP board was apprehended last night.
"He said that he cannot return to Russian as the mobilization awaits him there."
Belitšev said that restricting Russian citizens access to Estonia is justified primarily on moral grounds.
"It is insensible and morally wrong to allow Russian citizens to vacation and go shopping in Estonia while Russia is bombing Ukraine. We hope the rest of Europe will soon follow our lead in order to support Ukraine.
Editor: Marcus Turovski