Despite the prominent warning signs posted in the area, Estonia's Border Guard nonetheless continues to deal with tourists unable to resist the temptation to illegally stop and take photos in the Saatse Boot, a small area of Russian territory bisected by a road connecting to a remote part of Southeastern Estonia. Should the problem persist, the road may ultimately be closed.
Värska-Saatse Road, which is located in Võru County's Setomaa Municipality, crosses through Russian territory twice. According to an agreement between Esotnia and Russia, Estonian citizens may pass through this small area of Russian territory via car or other form of transport. Passage on foot, stopping one's vehicle and stepping out of the vehicle, however, are strictly prohibited, reported ETV's news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."
"But people are enticed by the Russian Federation border marker located right on the side of the road in the Saatse Boot, and people get out of their cars and take photos, not realizing that in doing so they have already committed a violation," said Aimar Köss, senior officer at the Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) Integrated Border Management Bureau. "So I am asking everyone traveling in the area to please follow the instructions posted on the signs there."
Last year, around ten violations were detected in the Saatse Boot; even more were prevented. So far this year, one person has been detained in the Boot.
According to Köss, these ongoing violations send the message that Estonia is unable to keep its side of the border under control.
"We cannot currently rule out various scenarios," he explained. "Of course, I sincerely hope that things don't reach the point where our neighboring country's authorities decide that it will no longer be possible to use this road in the future. We are on our part doing everything we can to prevent violations in this area."
Editor: Aili Vahtla