“It’s politics and we are pawns”: How Russia is pushing migrants towards Finland

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Moyad salami In the year On November 5, he left his home in Homs, Syria, flying first to Moscow and then to the southwestern Russian city of Kazan, where he spent ten days with his relatives.

After that he started traveling to Finland.

Salami next flew to St. Petersburg, where the smuggler had instructed him, announcing that the smugglers would take care of everything once they reached the port city.

Salami Ley said that the Telegram messaging service, which has recently intensified traffic to the Finnish border, discovered the contraband.

“Smugglers are inviting everyone to come. Word is the road is open now,” he said.

Yandex taxi to the border

Arriving in St. Petersburg, the smuggler tells Salami that he has booked his trip to the Finnish border with the army.

Yil could not independently verify all the details of Salami’s journey. For example, it is not clear which authority or authority – the military, police or border guards – is helping the migrants on their way to the Finnish border.

In St. Petersburg, Salami said he and five other refugees were taken to a hostel and spent the night.

Moyad Salami said he studied to be a lawyer, but before leaving Syria he worked as a sales manager for a telephone company. Image: Gadi Bustani

The next day, two Yandex taxis arrived at the hostel and took the group of six to a Russian border guard station near the Finnish border. Salami recalled that the taxi fare was $100.

The migrants were sold bicycles at the site for $300. Their belongings were searched and their passports and phones were temporarily taken away so that they could not take any photos.

Then they were kept in the cold for 7-8 hours, Salami said.

He was forbidden to return to Russia

Next, Salami explained that the group got into a car, which he remembers was a Volvo, and they were taken to the second Russian border station – this is again closer to the Finnish border.

Trailers of the teams’ newly purchased bikes followed.

At this second border station, the group was first fingerprinted and their visas to stay or live in Russia were revoked. This time, their passports and phones were returned.

They were then instructed to cycle to the Finnish border, and then they were told that they would not be allowed to return to Russia.

As they cycled, a Russian police car followed them until they were about a kilometer from the Finnish border.

This video shows the migrants’ final journey from the Russian border station to the Finnish border checkpoint.

Salami crossed the border into Finland on Wednesday, November 15, through the Valima checkpoint in the southeast of the country. Checkpoint closed..

He is currently waiting for his asylum application to be processed at the Jousceno reception centre.

Moyad Salami recalls the involvement of Russian officials during his trip to Finland.

Salami added that he knows from social media groups that there are currently many migrants in Russia who have tried to reach Latvia, Lithuania or Poland from Belarus without success.

“The topic is being discussed on Telegram, Facebook and other social media. There is a lot of talk about which Finnish border posts are closed and which are still open.”

The Russians “told us we were lying.”

Ryan Alhariri Lay said that there are many migrants in Belarus who can travel to Finland.

He himself was first in Belarus and tried unsuccessfully several times to enter Poland and Latvia.

But we heard by telegram that the border of Finland is open for people from Belarus.

The photo shows 23-year-old Ryan Alhariri.

23-year-old Ryan Alhariri is from Syria. Image: Gadi Bustani

Alhariri’s journey to the Finnish border was similar to Salami’s, starting in St. Petersburg, with a taxi ride to a Russian border station where his passport was confiscated.

He then said that a “Russian military vehicle” took his group “to a police station in the middle of the forest”.

When they got there, the Russian authorities took what they could get from each person: Alhariri said that 300 dollars were taken from him, 400-800 dollars were taken from others, depending on how much money each of them had.

In return, bicycles were received, although Alhariri said the bicycles were worthless.

” of [Russian] The authorities told us to tell them that the Finnish bikes came from Polish authorities, not Poland.

This week’s All Points North podcast asks why Finland has struggled to close its borders and what obligations there are for asylum seekers. Listen to the episode with this embedded player. on Ile Arena, Apple, Spotify Or wherever you find your podcasts.

“They were very cooperative.”

Al-Hariri crossed the Walima border checkpoint on Friday, November 17, hours before it was closed.

In an interview with Yale, Alhariri was told that Finland had closed. Seven of the eight checkpoints On the border with Russia because of what is seen as an experiment Mixed influence In Russia.

“I noticed they were very cooperative,” he said, referring to Russian officials.

For example, when some of his friends returned from Belarus, they discovered that their Russian visas had expired.

“However, they allowed my friend to go to Russia and then to Finland. That tells you something,” he said.

Long imprisonment

Kamal TwillHis experience with Russian officials was similar to that of Salami and Alhariri.

“At the Russian checkpoints, the authorities took our papers, even though they were in order. We were detained for a very long time,” he said.

The reason why Tawil and his group were arrested was not disclosed.

The photo shows Kamal Tweel.

Kamal Tawil said that many of his friends are still in Russia near the Finnish border. Image: Gadi Bustani

Tawil told Yle that the Russians would not have let him go to the Finnish border checkpoint without a bicycle. Once he bought the bike, the authorities said he “speeded” him to the border.

They also banned any refugees from returning to Russia.

“It was like a condition to get out of there.”

Putting pressure on the European Union

Moyad Salami says he knows that Finland partially closed its border because of the Russian hybrid operation.

Russia seems to be trying to flood Finland with asylum seekers, he said.

The main reason may be that Finland has joined NATO, said Salami, adding that both Finland and EU countries are supporting Ukraine.

Salami also recalled that they were told at the Russian border post that Russia would send refugees to Norway, Estonia or Lithuania if the Finnish border was closed.

“Any border, as long as there is no EU pressure, that’s what they’ve said everywhere, it’s politics, and we’re being used as leverage,” he said.

Yelem asked Salami what would happen if Finland closed the eastern border.

“Of course there will be attempts to cross the crossing points. I heard from some refugees that Russians have the right to ask for asylum, so even if you have to storm the border, cross,” he replied.

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