OSLO, January 28. /TASS/. The situation with the return of refugees to Russia who arrived in Norway in the autumn should not be politicized, said Rune Rafaelsen, the Mayor of the Sor-Varanger municipality in Norway bordering the Murmansk region in Russia’s extreme north. Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper has quoted his remarks on its website.
"The politicization of this issue that we are seeing now is not in our interests," he said. "Our municipality maintains extensive cooperation with Russia, many Russians live and work here. Last year our revenues from Russia-related activities have exceeded 1.7 billion krones [$196 million]."
On Wednesday, the municipality’s council expressed deep concern over the attitude towards refugees currently shown by the Norwegian authorities urging to consider petitions of migrants arriving in the country through Russia’s territory and make sure that their rights are observed.
"Because of the situation that has evolved the whole municipality and its population found themselves in a difficult situation. In connection with this, we want the flow of refugees to Russia stopped and the existing agreements with Russia complied with," the local authorities said.
Both the leadership and residents of the municipality are concerned about the fact that people who have good reasons to be granted asylum are expelled from its territory.
On Wednesday, a demonstration in support of refugees that brought together more than 300 people took place in Kirkenes, the municipality’s biggest city. Protests were held in other cities too, including Oslo. In total, several thousand people with the slogans "Kindness is great" took to the streets.
More than 5,500 asylum-seekers entered Norway through Russia’s territory between August and December. They are mostly citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.