Russian tourists who massively visit the famous river waterfall in Finland as an attraction, from the end of July, began to be greeted with a show program with the performance of the national anthem of Ukraine in protest against the special operation RF. Details reported by France24.
We are talking about the eastern Finnish city of Imatra, where every day hundreds of travelers gather on a bridge that rises above the rapids of the Imatrankoski waterfall – one of the most famous natural attractions of the northern country. At the same time every day, an almost hundred-year-old dam opens on the river, and the water rushes under the bridge to the sound of the music of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
This is a popular and iconic place for Russian tourists. Even Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, visited Imatrankoski in 1772. However, the city authorities decided to protest against the Russian Federation and tourists coming from our country in a very creative way: broadcast the Ukrainian anthem at a historically popular attraction among Russians.
Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer eastern border with Russia, is also preparing to limit the issuance of tourist visas to Russians, as Estonia has already done. Recall that from August 18, our compatriots will not be able to enter Estonia on a visa issued by this state. The only exception was one category of Russians (read the details at this link).
“This is bad for Russians who love Finland. But we understand the government of Finland,” the TV channel quoted a Russian tourist who came with his family to look at the thresholds of the most ancient sight of Imatra.
Also in the neighboring city of Lappeenranta, the Ukrainian national anthem is played every evening over City Hall, overlooking shopping centers popular with Russian tourists. “The goal is to express strong support for Ukraine and condemn the special operation,” Lappeenranta Mayor Kimmo Järva told AFP. For example, many Russians come to their favorite Finnish city of Lappeenranta for shopping: they buy clothes and cosmetics. On many cars you can see Russian license plates.
Russian tourism has caused discontent in Finland due to geopolitical events. For example, a survey published last week by the Finnish public broadcaster Yle showed that 58 percent of Finns are in favor of restricting Russian tourist visas.
“In my opinion, they should be very limited. I see no other way to make Russian politicians think,” a 57-year-old local resident of Lappeenranta commented on the situation. Although he has nothing against individual tourists, the interlocutor noted that his relationship with the Russians has changed.
Restrictions on the transit tourism of Russians
Spurred on by growing discontent, Finland's foreign minister last week unveiled a plan to limit the issuance of tourist visas to Russians. The Nordic country remains Russia's only EU neighbor with no restrictions on tourist visas for Russian citizens.
Since flights from Russia to the EU have been halted, Finland has become a transit country for many Russians seeking to travel elsewhere in Europe. “Many saw this as a circumvention of the sanctions regime,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP, referring to transit tourism.
Although the Schengen regime and Finnish law do not allow an outright ban on the issuance of visas based on nationality, Finland may reduce the number of visas issued by category, Haavisto noted.
file in a day, ”the official explained. According to the minister, the final decision on the adoption of the plan can be made by the end of the month.
Although many Finns are now unhappy with Russian visitors, traditionally people on both sides of the border lived in close contact with each other. “In St. Petersburg, many people have grandparents from Finland, like my wife,” explained the Russian, who visited Imatrankoski and added that he visits Finland every year.
Russian tourists are also an important source of income for many Finnish border towns. Since Russia lifted anti-COVID travel restrictions on July 15, the number of Russian tourists heading to Finland has steadily increased.
Although numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels, more than 230,000 border crossings took place in July, up from 125,000 in June. “Of course, if Russian tourists stop coming here, this will lead to a loss of income for businesses, which is regrettable,” Järva, mayor of Lappeenranta, complained.
At the same time, the head of the city, popular with Russians, believes that there is a strong support for restricting Russian tourist visas: “We have to make a choice. We strongly support Ukraine.”
Information: Imatrankoski is a waterfall in Finland. The large structure blocks the Vuoksa River 7 km from its source from Lake Saimaa. The bed of the Imatran Falls is a granite gorge, through which water rushes with noise and roar. The famous waterfall operates strictly according to the schedule: in the summer it is launched once a day, and in other seasons – on holidays.
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