On November 19, hundreds of residents gathered in Lappeenranta, a Finnish town bordering Russia, to protest against the country’s government ordering the closure of the border checkpoint between the two countries.
According to media company Yle, the number of protesters in this town is about 200-300 people.
Katja Marova, a protester, said: “We were forced to unite to protest the government’s decision, because this caused us to completely lose contact with our relatives living in Russia.”
“We have the right to see our family members and it is cruel for them to make such a decision before Christmas.” She added: “Most people have plans to spend Christmas with loved ones and this could be destroyed by the government’s decision.”
On November 18, the Helsinki government decided to close four border crossings with Russia, including Vaalimaa, Nuihamaa, Imatra and Niirala, due to the sudden increase in Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni refugees from Russia. A day earlier, Finnish border guards used force, such as gas, to suppress migrants.
Finnish Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen said Russia is using refugees to fuel a migration crisis in Europe, threatening the security and unity of the old continent. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied these accusations and said they were completely baseless.
Last week, Finnish Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Riikka Purra said closing the four border gates was just the first step, and further revealed that Helsinki could close the entire border if the flow of migrants continues .
Meanwhile, the Finnish army is building fortifications at the Vartius checkpoint, one of four still in operation. Vartius is currently the closest intersection to Lappreenranta, some 488 km to the north.
Sofia Andreyeva, a protester on Sunday, was born in St. Petersburg but has lived in Finland for the past five years, said the border closure has cut off contact with her entire family in Russia, including an elderly grandmother.
Protesters demanded the reopening of at least one nearby border gate, arguing that stricter border checks would be a good way to control the influx of migrants without affecting Finnish people. Lan.