Finnish border guards had to use force, gas to stop 29 people from crossing

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Asylum seekers at the Nuijamaa border crossing point in Finland.
Asylum seekers at the Nuijamaa border crossing point in Finland. Source: SCANPIX/Vesa Moilanen/LEHTIKUVA/SIPA

On Friday, 29 people passed the Finnish border from the Russian side via bicycle and on foot. Children and women were involved. The border guard had to use force to stop the group and to use gas spray on one person. On Saturday, 71 people arrived in Finland, four of whom though the barriers at the closed border crossing.

29 people applied for asylum after trying to force their way across the border at the Niirala crossing point in Finland

At the Niirala border crossing, border guards had to stop by force on Friday evening a group of about 29 people who had arrived on bicycles, Helsingin Sanomat and Yle reported.

Samuli Murtonen, deputy commander of the Finnish North Karelia Border Guard District, said that the guards had to use force because people did not comply with the guards' orders.

One person who tried to pass the guards was sprayed with gas, Murtonen said, adding that the person received treatment and is doing well.

All persons have applied for asylum in Finland, Murtonen said. The situation at the border has been calm since the incident, he said.

At midnight, the border was closed for three months by government decision: it is no longer possible to cross from Russia to Finland via Niirala.

Border control has been intensified both at the Niirala crossing point and in the nearby territory of about 300 kilometers of the border line.

The situation at the Niirala border crossing escalated about an hour before the closure. Source: Yle

71 asylum seekers arrived in Finland from Russia on Saturday

At least 71 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland during Saturday, all of whom have submitted asylum applications; of these, 67 arrived via the open Vartius border crossing and four through the barriers at the closed border crossing at Nuijamaa, Yle wrote.

The Russian border authorities bring asylum seekers to the Finnish border and close the gates behind them immediately, Tanja Heikonen, a journalist for Yle from Vartius, reported.

Some people have not eaten for several days – the City of Kuhmo has provided food for them, the publication said.

Frontex's slide explaining the situation in Finland Source: Frontex

On Thursday, the Finish government decided to close the eastern border crossing points, Imatra, Niirala, Nuijamaa and Vaalimaa, in south-eastern Finland from Saturday night.

On Friday, a group of people from Syria and Somalia crossed the border on bicycles and refused to return to Russia despite orders to do so, all of them applied for asylum in Finland.

On Saturday, people kept arriving at the Vartius border crossing point escorted by the Russian border guards. Yle said that in the past, Russia has not allowed people to enter the border if they did not have their travel documents in order. 

In recent months, more asylum seekers with inadequate travel documents have arrived at border crossing points in southeast Finland from Russia than usual and about 300 asylum seekers have arrived this week only.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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