Migrant pressure on Estonian border from the east on upward trend

Illegal border crossers detained in Petseri district, Russia.
Illegal border crossers detained in Petseri district, Russia. Photo: FSB Pihkva osakonna pressiteenistus

Russian border guards most recently detained 23 more people of South Asian origin near the town of Pechory, who were attempting to illegally cross the Russian-Estonian border, and during the past week, Russian and Estonian border guards have caught about 50 individuals trying to illegally cross the border in that area.

The Russian border guard service announced on Thursday evening that they had detained two groups of foreigners, 23 people from South Asia in total, who were seeking to illegally cross the Russian-Estonian border in the Pechory district.

Six of the persons did not have documents authorizing them to leave Russia and they are now subject to criminal investigation. The others are being dealt with pursuant to administrative procedure and they face a fine and deportation from Russia.

On Wednesday, the Russian border guard service announced that they had detained eight people from South Asia who were trying to cross the border into Estonia to seek better living conditions in the European Union.

On Saturday, Dec. 23, 11 people from the Middle East and North Africa were detained in the Oudova district, who were also aiming to cross the border into Estonia. On Dec. 21, the Estonian Border Guard detained eight foreigners in the Setomaa municipality who had arrived in Estonia illegally.

Asked by Postimees for comment, security expert Erki Koort said that these people don't seem to be of the same origin as the ones who appeared en masse at the Russia-Finland border some time ago, prompting Finland to shut down border crossings, and who are now attempting to reach wealthier countries of Europe via Estonia.

«In Finland, the people were of North African origin, but it's a different category here. It cannot be ruled out that some intermediary has gotten out of prison and is trying to engage in this business again,» he said.

Koort said that given the detentions that have taken place on the Russian side of the Estonian-Russian border, it doesn't look like Russia is trying to launch a hybrid attack against us, of the kind that has been launched against Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and, most recently, Finland.

«The fact that the Russians themselves are detaining them rather suggests that it's a homegrown effort by someone,» he added.