A closed gate on the border between Finland and Russia in Kuhmo, Eastern Finland, on Monday, 20 November 2023. Helsingin Sanomat on Monday reported that opposition lawmakers are cautiously supportive of the government’s plan to devise further measures in response to what is believed to be an organised effort by Russia to bring migrants to Finland. (Hannu Huttu – Str / Lehtikuva)


OPPOSITION LAWMAKERS in Finland are cautiously supportive of the government drawing up further measures in response to the inflow of asylum seekers to border-crossing points at the border between Finland and Russia, indicates a report by Helsingin Sanomat.

Many of the lawmakers interviewed yesterday by the newspaper reminded that evaluating the measures is difficult because only the government has up-to-date information on the situation at the border and the role of Russia.

Eveliina Heinäluoma (SDP) stated to Helsingin Sanomat that it is good that the government is preparing to expand its toolkit.

It is important, she underscored, that no room whatsoever is given to the mischievous and appalling exploitation of people by Russia: “Reacting quickly is a way to try to prevent the situation from worsening. The intention is to send a message to both Russian authorities but also to these people around the world who are being exploited is that the Finnish border is monitored and isn’t a transit stop.”

She also urged the government to keep the parliament up to date on the situation instead of notifying it of developments “with a bit of a delay”.

“[The government] has access to the entire operational picture of officials. It’s terribly important that the whole parliament gets up-to-date information on what’s happening and what kind of measures are considered,” Heinäluoma said to Helsingin Sanomat.

Petri Honkonen (Centre) similarly indicated that he is ready to resort to further measures.

The government last week closed four border-crossing points in south-eastern parts of Finland: Imatra, Niirala, Nuijamaa and Vaalimaa. The receipt of asylum applications was simultaneously concentrated to two border-crossing points: Vartius in Kuhmo, Kainuu, and Salla in eastern Lapland.

“Not everything that’s behind the decisions is necessarily communicated publicly. But my impression is that Russia will continue using these people as instruments. I support the idea of closing the entire eastern border, if necessary,” stated Honkonen.

Laura Meriluoto (LA) said the government has a key role in assessing the need for further measures because it has access to the most up-to-date information.

“I do emphasise, however, that you have to find some kind of balance from the perspective of internal security and, on the other hand, the human rights obligations that apply to Finland,” she commented.

Sofia Virta, the chairperson of the Green League, told Helsingin Sanomat that she has yet to receive information that would necessitate the closure of the entire border.

“If media information about Russia being involved in human trafficking and trying to push people across the border at the Vartius and Salla border-crossing points is correct, you have to send a strong signal to Russia that this isn’t acceptable. There are many ways to do so, not only the ways in the border [guard] act,” she wrote in a message to the newspaper.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT