Russian tourists in Finland replaced by Asians


Following the interview with the Norwegian Consul General, the Finnish Consul General in Murmansk Pirkko Mäkikokkila shared with SeverPost her view on cross-border issues and cooperation between Russia and Finland.

- How would you assess the relations between northern regions of Russia and Finland given the current foreign political situation?

- In 2017-2019 Finland will chair the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council which will contribute to the growing importance of northern territories. Finland is one of the leaders in the field of Arctic research. In 2017 the state-owned company “Arktika” owing Finnish ice-breakers plans to carry out a research of the Arctic areas. The project may be joined by representatives of universities and research institutes.

The twin-city relations between Murmansk and Rovaniemi, as well as Kola and Inari are thriving and acquire new forms of cooperation. Finnish companies are interested in continuation of partner projects with their counterparts from the Murmansk region after elimination of sanctions. The “People to People” public diplomacy reflects in tourism and cultural sphere. In December the Murmansk office of the Consulate General of Finland will facilitate the 17th Week of Finnish Cinema in Murmansk. 

There is an increased demand for Finnish visas used mainly for tourism and shopping. The Finns appreciate seeing more Russians in Finland now. At the same time it seems like the Finns are also discovering Murmansk as the largest city in the Arctic offering rich cultural programme.

- Has your job recently changed? Are there any difficulties you encounter?

- The job has changed since Finland became even more interested in the Arctic issues. Also the Finnish officials and companies want to be well informed of Murmansk economic life and possibilities of joint projects. The Murmansk business week was attended by the Ambassador for Arctic issues of the Finnish MFA and representatives of the Consulate General in St.Petersburg. The conference on mining held in Kirovsk was attended by many Finns just like the previous year. Also the situation with refugees on the turn of 2015/2016 was appealing to many of the Murmansk region residents.

- Has the political situation reflected on funding of joint Russian-Finnish projects?

- Most part of the Finnish enterprises is located in St.Petersburg and the Leningrad region. All in all there are around 400 Finnish enterprises working in Russia. For instance, the Valio Group expanded its business thus creating jobs for Russian workers. Several Finnish enterprises relocated to St.Petersburg and the Leningrad region following the localization policy. Currently Russia is the fifth most important exporting and the third importing country for Finland. The Finland’s investments in Russia amount to 11-12bln Euro.

The international cooperation also develops in other Russian regions. For example, the international cooperation programme “Kolarctic-Karelia” covering Finnish regions Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, Lapland, Kainuu, Pohjois-Karjala and the Republic of Karelia will probably be prolonged for 2017-2019. In early 2017 Finland and Russia are to launch three funding programmes totally amounting to 180 mln Euro. These programmes are funded by the EU, Russia and Finland. 

The crises might provoke certain uncertainty about ongoing projects and future plans, but there is still a strong wish to continue the cooperation since its importance keeps growing. The multi-level cooperation involving municipalities (twin-cities), schools, NGOs and enterprises are those of special importance.

- In which fields Finland and the Murmansk region continue cooperating?

- Other areas of cooperation are tourism development and import of food products.

- How did the sanctions affect the economy of the northern regions of Finland?

- The clients flow has shrank. There are mostly Asian tourists visiting northern regions of Finland, so the hotels and others touristic facilities do not lack clients, though the shopping centers are still longing for the Russians. Although the joint plans and projects are underway.

- What’s the dynamics of visa issuance and crossing of the Russian-Finnish border?

- After the record-breaking year 2013, visa issuance has significantly decreased. It shall be taken into consideration that we mostly issue visas with a 2-years validity period, while there are many people in the Murmansk region working in military agencies that impose certain restrictions for leaving abroad.

- What is the estimated percentage of those who moved to Finland from the Murmansk region in the last year?

- Foreign citizens make about 5.5% of the total Finnish population, ¼ of them are Russians. Those who come from the Murmansk region are mostly students studying in Finland.

- Has the number of Russian students studying in Finland recently changed?

- Changes are expected to occur since in 2017 the foreign-language educational programmes shall become fee-based for non-EU/EEA citizens. Programmes in Finnish language shall remain free for foreign students. Education in Salla gymnasium, for instance, will also be provided for free.

- What are the most popular Finnish localities among the residents of the Murmansk region? What is the prevailing travel purpose?

- Many people make 1-day shopping trips to Ivalo. Saariselkä mostly offers recreational facilities (versatile accommodation, restaurants, etc.). Rovaniemi is the largest city in northern Norway visited both for leisure, shopping and cultural activities. Ivalo airport operates daily flights to Helsinki. Kemi and Keminmaa are also popular among tourists.

- How would you estimate the role of Finland in the VI Days of Russian-Norwegian cross-border cooperation?

- This year the delegation from Inari was invited to this event. Finland sees value in any form of cross-border cooperation.

- How would you describe the perspectives of the Russian-Finnish cross-border cooperation?

- The international cooperation between the Finnish and Russian border guard services is successfully developing. There are also new joint educational and health-care projects between organizations from Murmansk and Lapland planned.


Norwegian salmon infection is no threat to the Murmansk fish

The outbreak of infectious salmon anemia detected in Norwegian Finnmark doesn’t threaten the Murmansk fish population, reports the Chairman of Veterinary Committee of the Murmansk region Alexey Kasatkin. “Owing to the large distance and no business ties with this Norwegian fishery, there is zero probability our fish will get infected. There are lots of fisheries


18.6 thousand travelers headed for Norway and Finland during New Year holidays

During December, 30 – January, 8 the Salla, Lotta and Borisoglebsk border crossing checkpoints processed 18633 travelers and 7033 vehicles. Last year these figures were 19520 and 7743 respectively. During the New Year holidays the Salla checkpoint was crossed by 7123 travelers (against 7743 last year) and 2905 vehicles (3205 last year). On December, 30-31 and


3 Moroccans detained at the Russian-Finnish border

In Kandalaksha the FSB has detained 3 Morocco nationals who tryed to illegally cross the border. Investigation revealed that the Moroccans arrived to Moscow with one-entry Russian tourist visa and then hired a taxi to reach the border area.  “The detainees had personal items, tablet PCs, mobile phones and some food with them. Further they planned to illegally cross


“Marshall Ustinov” cruiser arrived to Severomorsk after modernization

The main base of the Northern Fleet Severomorsk received the “Marshall Ustinov” missile cruiser that returned from “Zvezdochka” Ship Repair Center (Severodvinsk) where it was repaired and modernized. The vessel was welcomed with an official greeting ceremony headed by the Commander of the Northern Fleet Vice-Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov. “Commander


Airbus Murmansk made its first landing in Murmansk airport

Today airbus A319 “Murmansk” operated by Rissiya airlines for the first time landed in the Murmansk airport. The flight from St.Petersburg landed at 11.20 am. The return flight to Pulkovo is scheduled at 12.25 The aircraft has recently been named Murmansk after the world’s largest city located beyond the Arctic Circle.  We shall remind that the


New guard-ship “Polar Star” to serve in Murmansk

In the coming few days the new guard-ship “Polar Star” will enter the Murmansk port. The ship’s flag-raising ceremony took place in Kronshtadt on December, 17. The lead border guard-ship “Polar Star” (Project 22100) was constructed at Zelenodolsky Plant named after A.M.Gorkiy. The project was developed by engineers from St.Peterburg Construction


Mysterious flash seen in the sky of Murmansk. VIDEO

The Murmansk locals have posted on social networks videos showing a mysterious flash in the sky. Such light emission might presumably result from power line short circuit. The video provoked strong reaction among social networks who assumed that the flash might be a meteoritic fall. Some suggested that it was an UFO. The e-community “Weather in Murmansk” explains


13.9 thousand Finnish visas issued in 2016 to Murmansk region residents

During January- November 2016 the Finnish Consulate in Murmansk received around 13.9 thousand visa applications. In November there were about 2 thousand applicants. For reference, in November 2015 the Consulate issued 1.3 thousand Finnish visas and in December – 2 thousand. Totally in 2015 the Finnish Consulate processed 24.5 thousand applications. “Altogether in


“Vice-Admiral Kulakov” returned from Syria to Severomorsk

The main base of the Northern Fleet met back the major anti-submarine ship “Vice-Admiral Kulakov” that returned from Syria. “The wide range of objectives and smooth navigation in the demanding navigational situation sustained the professional competence of the crew. This long-distance voyage proved to be a good practice and a valuable experience that will be


Head of the Pechenga in charge the Council of cross-border municipalities

Head of the Pechenga district Eduard Zatona took on leadership in the Council of northern cross-border municipalities. According to its charter, the Chairman of the Council is conferred the powers for one year. The decision was taken on an extraordinary meeting of the Council on the 22nd of November in Inari, Finland. Currently the Council plans to summarize the ideas


Ministry of Energy announced fuel oil price for the Murmansk region

Today the price per ton of fuel oil in the Murmansk region is 11.2 thousand rubles, informed the Head of the regional Ministry of Energy and Housing and Utilities Vladimir Gnoyevskiy.  “One ton of fuel oil currently costs 11.2 thousand rubles. Last year the price fluctuated between 6-11 thousand. It changes rapidly and is hard to predict since it is a market


Murmansk ice-swimmers came up with a new flash mob. VIDEO

The Murmansk ice-swimmers made up a new flash mob “Start up the time”. They came up with this idea as a follow-up to the Mannequin challenge viral videos. “We’re sportsmen - we cannot stand still. So we decided to “stop” the time for a while. We should always make the headway and move forward,” told SeverPost the flash mob facilitator


Kirovsk opens ski season 2016-2017

The new ski season has been opened in Kirovsk. All the local sports facilities, slopes and ski-lifts are welcoming both professional and amateur skiers. “The Big Wood pistes are waiting for guests. The seasons will be opened on December, 2” informed SeverPost the Kirovsk municipality. The Kukisvumchorr ski center launched the season on November, 26. Its slopes