Russian-speakers rally in Helsinki supporting border closure with Russia
In Helsinki, the capital of Finland, a group of activists, including Russians and Russian-speaking residents, gathered on Saturday, January 13, to support closing the border with Russia
Yle reports on the event.
The rally was organized by the group "No Ruscism in Finland," aiming to highlight the Russian-speaking community's support for the Finnish government's actions.
Organizers argue that closing the borders is essential for ensuring Finland's safety for everyone.
"I am not just opposing Putin but also the overall Russian ideology. Despite having relatives in Russia, I fully support closing the borders. I am dismayed that protest organizers overlook the root cause in Russia's actions," emphasized rally organizer Ilya Kanatush.
Participants emphasize that Finland is implementing border closure measures in a gentle and civilized manner, which they believe benefits Russia.
"We aim to demonstrate that these actions might even be too lenient. In the future, more severe provocations from Russia could occur, and both the Finnish government and society should be prepared," stated one of the activists.
The Russian-Finnish border situation
On November 18, 2023, Finland took action due to an uptick in migration, shutting down four out of its eight border crossings with Russia until February 18, 2024. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo accused Russian authorities of assisting illegal migrants in entering Finland.
As of November 22, Finland closed all border crossing points except the northernmost one, Raya-Joosepi. Prime Minister Orpo emphasized that negotiations with Russia won't happen until the Russian-Ukraine conflict concludes. He also warned of additional measures if the influx of refugees persists.
Facing continued challenges, on November 28, the Finnish government decided to close its entire border with Russia for the next two weeks to manage the flow of asylum seekers.
Responding to the escalating situation, on December 2, Finland and JEF defense cooperation countries increased Baltic Sea surveillance using 20 warships. Russia claimed this move hinted at a desire for direct conflict, prompting a reaction from Finland's Ministry of Defense.
On December 8, the European Union's border service dispatched 55 personnel to monitor Finland's border with Russia.
In subsequent developments, on December 12, Prime Minister Orpo announced the reopening of two border points on December 14 - MAPP Vaalimaa and MAPP Niirala. However, other eastern border points remained closed.
Yet, on December 14, the Finnish government reversed its decision to open checkpoints, closing them on the same day. Prime Minister Orpo reiterated a commitment to border security and readiness to take further measures before reopening the border with Russia.