The number of trips made by Estonian citizens traveling to the Russian Federation rose on year by 76 percent to the first quarter of 2023 (Q1 2023), though has not reached pre-pandemic levels yet.
Peter Maran, head of the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) southeastern border post, told ERR's Russian-language news that: "Compared with the start of last year, Estonian citizens have certainly begun to visit Russia more often this year, though this is mainly due to the lifting of Covid restrictions.
"In the first half of last year, these restrictions were still in force on both the Estonian and Russian sides," Maran went on.
Even this increased level of travelers to Russia is lower than it was prior to the pandemic, over three years ago now, and is between a half and a third of that level, Maran added.
Not only have Covid restrictions left their mark, but also Russia's invasion of Ukraine starting February 2022 has significantly impacted on numbers, he noted.
In Q1 2023, Estonian citizens crossed the border into Russia 43,755 times, compared with 24,790 such crossings in Q1 2022, the PPA says.
This figure refers to trips rather than to individuals, in other words the same person could have entered Russia from Estonia, returned then reentered Russia multiple times.
The figures also refer to Estonian citizens, rather than to citizens of other countries, or persons of indeterminate citizenship, who are resident in Estonia and made the crossing.
By comparison, the total was just 6,910 in Q1 2021, 106,609 in Q1 2020 (which was when Covid first arrived in Estonia) and 116,719 in Q1 of 2019.
Russia itself imposed entry restrictions on non-citizens from March 18, 2020 to July 15, 2022.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots