The government has decided to close border crossings on the land border between Finland and Russia until January 14, 2024.

Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT has decided to close the border crossings on the land border between Finland and Russia again.

The borders will be closed on Friday, December 15, at 20:00 in the evening. Applications for international protection will not be accepted at the crossing points on the Finnish-Russian border. The border crossings will remain closed until January 14, 2024.

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Mari Rantanen (Finns), the minister of the interior, said at a press conference on Thursday evening that one of the reasons for opening the border in the first place was that the government wanted to see how the influx of undocumented asylum seekers would continue. Another reason was to open the Vaalimaa and Niirala border crossings to “normal traffic”—for family members living on both sides.

The border was opened between Wednesday and Thursday night at the aforementioned locations, after being completely closed for two weeks.

Read also:  More Undocumented Asylum Seekers on the Eastern Border

On the first day of opening, 30 asylum seekers crossed the border, and according to media reports, some of them arrived in the snow drift and frost, leading bicycles. Crossing the border on a bicycle from Russia to Finland was earlier banned, but, so far, only Finland has banned entering the country on a bicycle, so leading is an option, although some experts consider it a prop.

But what happens to all the bikes? “Bicycles left at the border by asylum seekers can be auctioned later,” Jouko Kinnunen, a supervisor at a border crossing, told national broadcaster YLE.

“This is a sign that the Russian authorities are continuing their hybrid operation against Finland. This is something that Finland will not tolerate,” said Minister Rantanen.

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