Russia's planned closure of its Ivangorod border checkpoint to vehicles will impact business and private citizens alike, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Thursday.
As reported by ERR News, Russia is to close the crossing, on the East bank of the Narva River, to vehicles from February next year for an unspecified length of time.
This will mean only border crossings in Southeastern Estonia will remain open to entry for vehicles from Russia into Estonia.
Pedestrians will still be permitted to cross between Jaanilinn, or Ivangorod as it is called in Russian, and Narva – and over half-a-million people have done so this year to date.
Around 100,000 vehicles have made the crossing over that time-frame; it is currently not clear whether long-distance buses will be able to travel from West to East, perhaps with passengers disembarking to cross the border, but in the other direction, all vehicle traffic will be closed in any case.
The news is unwelcome to hauliers, who will now have to make a diversion to the Southeast Estonian section of the border, four times the distance as the 150km direct route between St. Petersburg and Narva, for instance.
One company, AS Narva Auto, notes that its cargo volumes are already around a quarter of their level three years ago, with many trucks currently garaged.
"This will all mean additional time and additional costs," Nikolai Burdakov, board chair of AS Narva Auto, told Akin regard to the latest news.
The company will not however exit the Russian market for the time being, as competition between hauliers in other parts of Europe is even tighter, he said.
For ordinary citizens the change might prove disruptive, for others, not.
One Jõhvi resident, Natalja, told AK she takes a free bus from that town to Narva – many Estonian counties still offer free in-county public transport to local residents, though that practice is coming to an end - and then crosses the border into Russia on foot.
She then takes another bus from the Russian side of the border to St. Petersburg, a journey which she often makes and which is inexpensive, Natalja said.
Another, Aleks, a Narva resident, travels to Russia once per month to refuel his car, which he says he can do far more cheaply there than in Estonia, but will be unable to do so after the change, given he would not be able to drive back over the border from February.
Russia's official rationale for the closure was reconstruction work, though this may take several years, and no concrete reopening date has been given.
The Ivangorod border crossing between Russia and Estonia will be closed to cars in February.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamer,' reporter Jüri Nikolajev.