Estonia to query Finland over «Soviet» drivers

Andres Einmann
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Lugeja foto

Foreign ministry intends to ask Finnish colleagues to explain why Finnish diving licences feature Russia or the Soviet Union as birthplace of Estonians.

«We are addressing the Finnish colleagues to have this topic clarified to us. There are regular consultations in Helsinki between Estonian and Finnish foreign ministers, where we intend to raise the issue,» said foreign ministry press representative Mariann Sudakov.

Another agency to enquire Finish colleagues about country of birth on driving licence is Estonian Road Administration.

According to Road Administration press rep Allan Kasesalu, the agency is sending the Finns an inquiry asking how a person’s place of birth is determined in Finland as driving licence is applied for or changed. The Administration desires to know if in Finland the place of birth is based on passport or ID card data, or do they ask for some other document. As noted by Mr Kasesalu, an ID card for instance specifies a person’s place of birth.  

As assured by Mr Kasesalu, Estonian documents – as opposed to those in Finland – contain no references to the Soviet Union and while specifying people’s place of birth in documents, Estonian agencies go by the states currently in existence.  

«If a person is born in Estonia, documents specify Estonia as the place of birth irrespective of whether  Estonian SSR [Soviet Socialist Republic – edit], for instance, existed at the time or not. Estonian territory is Estonian territory; once he is born here, his place of birth is Estonia. If an individual is born in Kazakhstan, say, an Estonian document will not put the Soviet Union as his place of birth, but Kazakhstan. The document states the person’s country of birth or its successor,» said Mr Kasesalu.

According to Mr Kasesalu, it cannot be ruled out that after Estonia regained independence, somebody may have had the Soviet Union written is his document due to a slip by some official, but it is definitely not happening any more.

As stated yesterday by Public Broadcasting TV news programme «Aktuaalne kaamera», lots of Estonians living in Finland have been unpleasantly surprised when changing driving licence as Russia’s or the Soviet Union’s abbreviation gets printed on the front of the document.  

Kati Kold, born in 1982, changed her ageing driving licence in Finland and found herself staring at RUS on the new document. The lady first thought this was referring to citizenship, but at closer scrutiny discovered this was country of birth.  

As Ms Kold asked the agency concerned to correct the error, it turned out here was no error: she was told that as she was born in the Soviet Union, that’s the way it has to be as the RUS on her licence marks the place of birth.

As the lady posted this, the Facebook community of Estonians in Finland broke into a broad debate. Turns out, there are more Estonians born in Russia, as if. Also, many have the letters SUN for Soviet Union printed on their driving licences.