Putin orders security services to strengthen control over refugees in transit to Europe

Refugees lined up at Storskog border checkpoint last autumn. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
Refugees lined up at Storskog border checkpoint last autumn. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
Police in the northern Russian city of Murmansk have arrested an alleged organiser of human trafficking, but the number of asylum seekers to Finnish Lapland remains high.

“We should tighten monitoring of the refugee flows coming into Russia or transiting onwards to European countries,” Russian President Vladimir Putin  said at a meeting with high ranking officials of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on Friday.

Russia’s Border Service is a branch of the FSB.

Last autumn, more than 5,500 asylum seekers travelled via Russia’s Kola Peninsula and came to Norway at the Storskog border checkpoint. Today, nobody enters Norway in the north, but migrants are instead entering Finland at the checkpoints of Salla and Raja-Jooseppi.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,000 persons coming via Murmansk region have applied for asylum in Finland, according to the Finnish Border Guard.

President Putin’s instruction to the FSB to tighter control the flow of migrants has so far had no significant impact on the traffic across the border. According to Finnish broadcaster YLE, 32 asylum seekers crossed the border at Salla and five came via Raja-Jooseppi this weekend. In week 8, a total of 117 asylum seekers came to Lapland, down from 154 the week before.

Last week police in Murmansk, arrested a person suspected of organizing refugee trafficking from the Middle East to Norway and Finland, newsportal Flashnord reported, citing Maxim Smirnov, the Chief of Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Police say the suspect is the leader of a criminal group allegedly organizing the transport of migrants to the borders.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Should Canada have a plan for climate refugees?, Radio Canada International

Finland: Asylum-seekers sign up for snow clearing in Finland, Yle News

Norway:  Refugees find Arctic gate to Schengen, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Councils in North Sweden fail to house refugees, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Finland and Russia discuss refugee crisis, Yle News

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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