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Finland to close border to Russian tourists

Finland is to close its border to Russian tourists, the government announced Thursday.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said the border will be closed to Russians traveling to Finland for tourism or for transit purposes “until further notice.” The border will close at midnight on Thursday.

Entry to Russians for family visits, as well as for work and studies, will still be permitted, as will the transporting of essential materials.

The government said the decision was taken following talks with Ukraine, fears that Russians were circumventing the EU’s flight restrictions, and because of Finland’s relations with the Baltic states and Poland.

The inflow of Russians could endanger Finland’s international relations, Haavisto said, according to public broadcaster Yle.

Finland cut the number of tourist visas issued to Russians by 90 percent in early September.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have already started to implement entry restrictions for Russian citizens travelling solely for the purpose of tourism or leisure.

Some 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland last weekend, 80 percent more than the same period a week earlier, Reuters reported.

The ban on issuing Russian visas caused friction between European countries even before Putin announced his partial mobilization. A spokesperson for the European Commission said they were in “close consultation” with the member states and home affairs agencies.

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