Eleven Iranians arrested by Finnish border guards after illegal crossing from Russia
The Iranians, all of them men, were arrested in the area between Nuijamaa and Joutseno on January 11, 2024. They have applied for asylum.
The area is densely forested and the group made it by foot through the terrain. The illegal crossing most likely took place between the border crossing points of Imatra and Nuijamaa.
Temperatures in the area are down to minus 20 and there is a 40 cm layer of snow, information from the Finnish Meteorological Institute shows.
According to the Border Guard, a preliminary investigation shows that the Iranians got assistance from the Russian side.
The investigation of the case started with a notification from the border commissioner of the Vyborg region. The Border Guard of Southeast Finland will continue the investigation in cooperation with the Border Guard Service of the Russian Federation.
The arrest of the Iranians took place on the same day as the Finnish government announced that the border to Russia will remain closed until at least February 11.
The closure of the border comes after more than 900 migrants in only few months made it from Russia to Finland. On November 18, 2023, the government announced the closure of four checkpoints in the south. Only four days later, three more checkpoints were closed, including the Salla border-crossing point in Lapland. On November 30, also the last remaining border-crossing point, the far northern Raja-Jooseppi, was closed.
Two border-crossing points were shortly reopened on the 14th of December, but then again closed when a big number of migrants without valid travel documents rushed to the border.
Finnish authorities are confident that the flows of migrants are orchestrated by Moscow as part of a bid to de-stabilise the situation in the neighbouring country. Normally, people without valid visas are not allowed into the Russian border zone by the FSB Border Guard Service. Now, however, the border guards let migrants through the checkpoints without the travel documents.
Normally, there are eight border-crossing points open for travellers between Finland and Russia.