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Finnish border guards block 15 Mideast, African immigrants in Russia's Murmansk region

December 05, 2015, 1:16 UTC+3 MURMANSK
The move blocked fifteen immigrants from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Guinea at the border crossing. Seven of the migrants are adolescents
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MURMANSK, December 5. /TASS/. Finnish border guards on Friday closed the Lotta checkpoint on their side of the Russian-Finish border, official at the Border Control Department in Russia's constituent northwestern region of Karelia told TASS.

The move blocked fifteen immigrants from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Guinea at the border crossing. Seven of the migrants are adolescents.

The source said the Lotta checkpoint is open officially through to 22:00 hours Moscow Standard Time but the Finnish immigration officials put the gate down at 20:30 hrs and blocked the passage with a car.

They did not issue any prior warnings about their action.

As a result, fifteen people will have to stay right at the checkpoint for the overnight.

They will try to continue their journey to the well-off countries of Western Europe when the checkpoint reopens at 08:00 hrs on Saturday.

Most typically, some fifteen to twenty people from the category of Middle East refugees cross the border at the Lotta post daily.

In the meantime, officials at the Finnish border department in Lapland, who TASS turned to for a confirmation of the report, did not confirm it, saying the Rajajooseppi crossing located opposite Lotta had been closed before schedule.

As spokesman for the department said the crossing was usually open until 21:00 East-European Standard Time and it closed on Friday exactly on the hour.

On Saturday, it is expected to reopen at 07:00 hours EEST, he said.

Finnish Interior Ministry says 30,000 to 35,000 people from the Middle East seeking refuge in the EU may come to Finland before the yearend. Its earlier forecast suggested the arrival of about 50,000 refugees.

In 2014, Finland received only 4,000 or so immigrants but this year's figure already exceeds 30,000 since the beginning of the year. Most of them hail from Iraq.

The majority of immigrants arrive in Finland from Sweden in the north but more than 200 persons came through the Finnish-Russian border, which they crossed at the Rajajooseppi and Salla checkpoints.

Finnish border authorities have warned in the past they might close Rajajooseppi temporarily if the inflow of refugees was too big so at to be able to hold all the checking formalities with the newly arriving individuals.

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