Russian border pole. Photo: Atle Staalesen

Migrants from Belarus border crisis arrested while heading towards Arctic route to Europe

Three citizens from Iran entered Russia illegally to Smolensk region and were later arrested in Kandalaksha on the Kola Peninsula.
December 18, 2021


The three migrants crossed the border from Belarus into Smolensk Oblast in Russia on December 3. It is prohibited by law for third-country nationals to enter Russia from Belarus at other locations than the official checkpoints, but since there is virtually no border control only random document checks are carried out.

For the three Iranian nationals, the illegal entry to Russia was not discovered by law enforcement officials before they came to the northern town of Kandalaksha in the Murmansk region.

During the 2015-2016 migrant crisis, Kandalaksha became a transit point for many heading towards the so-called Arctic route to Europe, first towards Russia’s border to Norway, and later towards the border with northern Finland.

In Kandalaskha, the three Iranians were arrested by FSB Border Guard Service and charged with violating the Criminal Code of Russia for illegally entering the country without any valid documents, the Kandalaksha District Court informs in a press release.

The court decided to keep the three persons in detention for a period of two months.

This autumn, thousands of migrants have tried to make it over the Belarus-Poland border. The European Union has accused dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis in retaliation for mounting sanctions on his country.

Belarus travel agencies arranged charter tours from several countries in the Middle East with flights to Minsk, from where authorities shuttled people towards the border with Poland and Lithuania.


There have been several cases with migrants who came to Belarus to get to Europe later entered Russia illegally after being pushed back from the border fences with Poland. Two groups of migrants from Syria and Egypt were arrested in Smolensk oblast in August, Komosomolskaya Pravda reported.

The migrants were assisted across the Belarus-Russia border by Russian citizens, according to Sever.Realii news online.

With start on December 15, the Belarusian Railway now operates a weekly train from Minsk to Murmansk.

In autumn 2015 more than 5,500 asylum seekers, both refugees and migrants, entered Norway at Storskog checkpoint after taking the so-called Arctic Migrant Route via Russia’s Kola Peninsula. A full stop in the flow to Norway came on November 30, making the migrants change direction towards the northern border to Finland at Raja-Josseppi and Salla. A few months later, the FSB Border Guards decided to stop the migrants from reaching Russia’s northern borders to Schengen-Europe. 


Migrants arriving at Storskog checkpoint in October 2015. Photo: Thomas Nilsen




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