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Russia increases border zone surveillance in Karelia
Russia intends to increase surveillance in its expanded zone in Karelia. The changes will not have any negative effects either on tourism or on commercial and economic activities, said Colonel Igor Yuvzenko, Russia's authorised delegate for the Vyborg region, speaking in the Finnish city of Imatra on Thursday.
"No fundamental changes have been made in the border zone. Only the authority controlling the rules applicable to the border zone has changed", he reported.
Currently, the rules concerning the frontier zone are decided upon by the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB). Permits to enter the area are granted by the Border Guard Service of Russia, which has been a branch of the FSB since 2003.
Last December, Russia announced that its zone would be expanded from five kilometres to about 30 kilometres at the most, while in some places it would be narrowed. In practice, there has been a transitional phase, but from now on, the new rules will be observed, said Yuvzenko.
Because the roads leading to the border zone are monitored more strictly than before, checkpoints will be brought back on the roads to Vyborg, for example.
Vyborg itself is not included in the border zone, while for example the city of Svetogorsk is. Hence, those who plan to travel there will have to apply for permission to enter the zone at least one month before their planned visit.
Travelling through the frontier zone remains unrestricted.
Also those who have a visa to a specific locality within the border zone need no separate permit.
Travel agencies will handle all visa applications on behalf of individual travellers or groups of tourists if needed.
Moving in the border zone has been subject to a permit also previously, while in practice for example those Finns who have stopped to fill up their petrol tanks have not been asked for any permits. If the procedures change in the wake of these new regulations, it will almost certainly put a brake on such cross-border hops in search of cheap gasoline.
"We will observe the rules applicable to the movements of Finns in the Russian frontier zone", Yuvzenko concluded.