Finland’s decision to reduce the number of visas granted to Russian tourists did not please the Russians currently visiting Finland.
In July, after nearly two years of border crossings due to travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, traffic on the border between Finland and Russia picked up when Russia abandoned them.
"Many of my friends and loved ones really love Finland and Finns, your beautiful country. They love to come here for shopping and vacation," said Viktoria Kurdiumovawho arrived in Lappeenranta from St. Petersburg.
Kurdiumova found it very unfortunate that Finland is starting to limit the granting of visas to Russian tourists.
Maria Pushkarovawho also went shopping in Lappeenranta via St. Petersburg, agreed.
"It is very sad because I have traveled in Finland for a long time and I love Finland very much," commented Pushkarova.
Pushkarova said that she is traveling alone now, but would like to come with her parents. However, they can get a longer visa to visit Finland.
Foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Vihreä) said on Tuesday that Finland will reduce the processing of Russian tourist visas to a fifth of its current number when the changes come into force at the beginning of September.
Finland currently receives about 500 tourist visa applications from Russians every day, and with the upcoming changes, this number will drop to about a hundred.
However, Finland would grant a visa to those who want to come to Finland for work, study or family reasons.
Finland justified the reduction of tourist visas by saying that it is not appropriate for Russians to vacation in Finland while the country is responsible for the war in Ukraine.
Pushkarova reminded Yle that not everyone in Russia supports war.
"Most Russians oppose the war. This is sad. I hope it ends soon," said Pushkarova.
by Tatjana Gravels also said that he respects the Finnish government’s decision.
"I am a normal person and I respect my government. But I would like to keep the friendship. I think public diplomacy is the best course of action," Gravels from St. Petersburg explained.
Kurdiumova felt powerless and said she was a hostage of the situation.
"There is nothing we can do and it is difficult for us to live in this situation. In one moment we became outcasts in the whole world. I know that if I do or say something, our lives will become hell," said Kurdiumova.
Gravelsin said that the pandemic taught Russians to vacation in their own country. However, he is upset that he cannot get a new visa to Finland in the near future.
"I can’t say it’s hard to bear it, yes we will. But I wouldn’t want that" he told Yle.
People living in Finland have also started going shopping across the border. The distance from Lappeenranta to Vyborg is about 50 kilometers.
Gravelsin hoped that Finns would still be allowed to visit Russia.
"We want to see Finns and other nationalities in Vyborg and St. Petersburg. This is probably more a question of politics than common sense." said Gravels.
Source: The Nordic Page