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Russia's border closure continues to cause travel headaches in Narva

Narva border crossing on the night of Wednesday, January 31, 2024, as Russia closed to vehicles the other side of the border.
Narva border crossing on the night of Wednesday, January 31, 2024, as Russia closed to vehicles the other side of the border. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The closure by the Russian Federation of the border checkpoint at Ivangorod/Jaanilinn, across the river from Narva, continues to inconvenience bus passengers as well as car and truck drivers.

ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported from Narva on Thursday, the first full day after the border was closed.

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Eastern Prefecture manager Eerik Purgel said: "Unfortunately, however, we have to say that they did not comply with their own ban," referring to the border closure which Moscow had put in place from 11 p.m. Estonian time (midnight Moscow time).

"After midnight Russian time, we took in two more trucks. They were being driven by Estonian citizens, so of course we did not deny them entry; we still accepted our own people," Purgel went on.

On the Estonian side of the road bridge which spans the Narva River, the PPA started placing obstacles – concrete bollards and razor wire – at 11 p.m. Estonian time, ie. midnight in Moscow, though the last vehicles made it over around 11.15 p.m.

The driver was allowed over rather than being sent the circuitous route southwards, on the Russian side of the border, to the Luhamaa checkpoint in southeastern Estonia, which is still open to road traffic.

Buses now have to stop at the border, while passengers have to disembark, with their baggage, cross the border on foot, and take a second bus to their destination – in either direction.

One such passenger, French national Stefan, told AK (in Russian) how this had gone, saying: "We had to change buses. We left the first bus in Russia, then we got a new bus. It took half an hour or a little more. Everything went fine."

Another passenger, Svetlana, who says she resides in Italy, gave the new system of movement a score of "one out of 10."

"Of course, it's inconvenient with a 20-kilogram suitcase plus a dog. I simply won't travel to visit someone in this way again, certainly not sooner than a year from now, even if necessary," she complained.

The razor wire and concrete barriers will remain on the Narva bridge at least until the end of next year, AK reported.

Prior to the border closure at Ivangorod/Jaanilinn, which Russian authorities say is necessitated by maintenance work, around 4,000 people traveled over the border per day, though the bulk of these (around two-thirds) did so on foot in any case.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Jüri Nikolajev.

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