Narva City Government is allowing the Association of Russian Citizens, which is helping people who cannot travel to Tallinn to access consular services, to work on its premises for free.
Russia's consulate in Narva was shuttered after the country's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now, the Russian embassy in Tallinn is the only place its citizens can seek consular assistance.
But for some older Russian citizens, this is a difficult journey and the NGO has been assisting elderly and disabled citizens who cannot travel to the capital. They mostly need help with documents.
Some days the queues are very long.
"The first is for those who have come to collect a passport; the second queue is for those who have come to apply for a passport. But now we also have a third queue — these are the pensioners who are getting a proof of life certificate," the NGO's chairman Elizaveta Pokk told Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".
A proof of life certificate is needed by every elderly Russian citizen claiming a pension.
"I have to submit a certificate every year, at the end of the year, to get a pension from Russia. If I get the certificate, I can get a pension for the whole year. Otherwise, I would have had to go to Tallinn," said Nadežda, a Kohtla-Järve resident visiting the office.
The city government offered the NGO rooms on the second floor of the central library after it outgrew its initial premises.
"A third of Narva's population are Russian citizens, who, by the way, could not renounce their Russian citizenship even if they really wanted to. Leaving them completely without help, without information, without the necessary documents, we cannot afford to do that. Russian citizens living in Estonia are also our people," said the Mayor of Narva Katri Raik.
Approximately, 37,000 Russian citizens live in eastern Estonia in Ida- and Laane-Viru counties. Half of them live in Narva.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright