News |  The luxury cars of passing Russians fill the parking lot of Helsinki airport

News | The luxury cars of passing Russians fill the parking lot of Helsinki airport

By La Provence (with AFP)

With Finland being an important transit country for Russian tourists traveling to Europe, Porsches, Bentleys and other Russian-registered luxury sports cars fill the parking lot at Helsinki airport, from where travelers continue their journey. A quick stroll through Helsinki airport reveals dozens, if not hundreds, of high-end cars with Russian license plates, including a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Sedan and a Porsche 911 Turbo S.

VSit’s beyond me. I wish they would not come until the situation with Ukraine is resolved“, Jussi Hirvonen, a car driver, told AFP after leaving the parking lot. The European Union closed its airspace to Russian flights after Moscow invaded Ukraine, forcing Russians who want to travel to Europe to cross the border by car or, by detour , travel with non-Western airlines. Since the lifting of travel restrictions related to Covid-19 by Moscow in July, the number of Russian travelers has increased, in line with growing discontent in Europe against their arrival as war engulfs Ukraine.

When asked by AFP, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto observes that Finland has become “travel country” for Russian tourists, adding that there are “many russian tourists at helsinki airport right now“.

Desire for European decision

Finland announced last week that it will reduce Russian tourist visas to 10% of the current amount from September 1 due to growing dissatisfaction with Russian tourism amid the war in Ukraine. But Russians continue to enter Finland with Schengen visas issued by other countries. “They come here with Schengen visas issued by many different countries and continue their journey through Helsinki airport“, explains Pekka Haavisto.

According to Finnish border guards, almost two-thirds of Russians crossing Finland’s eastern border use a Schengen visa issued by a country other than Finland. “Hungary, Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece and Spain usually send to Russians and are among the leading countries every year.“, explains AFP Mert Sasioglu, a representative of the border guards. Schengen regulations do not authorize Finland to close its border to specific citizens, notes Pekka Haavisto. This type of action can only be decided jointly in the European Union.

Since Finland and the Baltic countries are planning to prevent these cases, it would be good if the EU countries take similar decisions.“, adds the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This feeling is shared by many Finns at the airport, such as Jussi Hirvonen: “There should be a decision from the European Union to close the border“.

Finland intends to discuss the issue at the next meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers, which is expected to be held on August 30 in the Czech Republic.