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Most illegal border crossings involve people getting lost or ignoring signs

Boundary post indicating the Estonian border.
Boundary post indicating the Estonian border. Source: (PPA)

More than 50 illegal border crossings recorded by the Police and Border Guard (PPA) occurred mainly due to people’s carelessness. Most of them concerned boats violating Russian territory on Lake Peipus, or tourists visiting the border areas.

Most of the incidents happened in Värska in Põlva County and involved people that came to the area to go fishing, Andres Vesselov of the South prefecture’s border guard office said. “They don’t pay attention to signs or misjudge the distance to the temporary control line. Some confuse the border markers with the floats of a net, some blame the weather,” Vesselov said.

Apart from people on the lake, illegal crossings often involved tourists visiting the Setomaa cultural area and its events. These people generally didn’t pay attention to border markers, ignoring both warning and traffic signs indicating the border.

“On the road from Saatse to Värska there are two sections that lead through Russian territory that can only be used by car and without stopping,” Vesselov explained. On these road sections different rules applied. Pulling over was forbidden, as well as moving along the road on foot.

In the second half of the summer, there were the people that came to the area to pick mushrooms and berries as well. As these activities involved staring at the ground, people often missed warning signs. Anyone unfamiliar with the conditions along the border should look at a map before setting out into the forest and make sure they remained far enough away from the control line, Vesselov suggested.

On the lake, yellow floating markers indicate the border, in the forest there are yellow signs with a red hand drawn on them. Standing right next to a border post, or directing one’s boat right next to a floating marker, one was already in an area forbidden for civilians even without explicitly crossing the border, Vesselov pointed out.

In the first six months of 2017, the Police and Border Guard recorded 52 illegal border crossings involving 88 people. About half of the incidents involved leisure activities, there were six cases of illegal immigration, and five incidents involving smuggling. The numbers are slightly below those of the first half of 2016, when 54 incidents were recorded and 110 people involved.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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