“The Russians are buying: bicycles, fishing gear… a Lot of bait,” says Lars Randall (Randal Lars), the store associate G-Sport in the centre of Kirkenes.
Lars and not less than five sports shops in the area of Kirkenes earn good money on the fact that more and more Russians go shopping across the border.
“The Russians are an important customer group for us. We are very happy that they are coming,” says Randall.
The celebration of the fifth anniversary of the visa-free zone
This week marks five years of the Treaty the inhabitants of the border region. The contract covers the area about 30 kilometers on each side of the Norwegian-Russian border.
Here, residents do without expensive and complex visa procedures. They can make unlimited number of trips with the identity of the residents of the border region.
6 387 from more than 10 thousand inhabitants of Sør-Varanger has received this certificate, according to the Russian Consulate General in Kirkenes.
In Kirkenes is a very popular trip across the border, because on the other side you can buy fuel, which is two times cheaper than in Norway.
“The Russian company “Rosneft”, gas station which is located at the entrance to the Nickel, has earned more than anyone in this contract,” smiles the mayor of Pechenga Alexander Morozov, who visited this week in Kirkenes.
Frost: At the time, those who took this decision was not easy to approve the agreement, but we and the Norwegians and the Russians saw in it only the positive side.
NRK: the Treaty is a peace project?
— Yes, of course. I’ve lived a long life and remember the time the iron curtain between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Then they talked about “something alien”. But now this alien is no more, we visit each other and talk to each other. This contributes to the further development of good neighborly relations.
Nine violations of the law in five years
Police see increase in the number of trips across the border since last year currently, said police officer jørgen Holt (Jørgen Holte).
“We have clearly traced the dependence of the rate and frequency of trips from Russia. The frequency decreased slightly in 2015, due to weakening of the ruble. The ruble has now recovered, and we have this year to date with the other side of the border was almost 24 thousand visits to the identity of a resident of the border zone,” says Holt.
Police are considering a visa-free zone with Russia as a successful event. Within five years there were nine(!) violations of the law Russian citizens type of petty theft and the like.
“Our experience shows that it works very well. Of course there are abuses by people who go too far. Can’t say it happens intentionally or out of ignorance. But serious crimes were noticed,” says Holt.
Desire for greater freedom visa
Head of the Barents Secretariat, Formal Lars (Lars Fordal) would like to extend a visa-free zone and to introduce it in all of North Norway.
“The current contract provides for freedom of movement within the known zone. This area can be expanded. This is a political issue, but we believe that if you extend a visa-free regime, it will create great potential for the development of the Northern region,” says Fardal.