Posted by: Margaret Cappa | May 27, 2010

May 26: Lessons on controlling the Russian-Norwegian border

Today Chantaie and I visited Svanvik Border Station with two French journalists visiting the Kirkenes area.

This station is one of six along the 196 km Norwegian-Russian border. The Norwegian Border Guard has 110 full-time employees and 550 conscripts. They ensure Norwegian border sovereignty, embarking on many border patrol missions by helicopter, snowmobile, skiing and on-foot. Even in the harshest of Arctic conditions, the border is patrolled.

(more blog below)

While there was a sharp rise in illegal trespassers from Russia into Norway in 2008 of 21 attempts, the number dropped to one attempt in 2009. The Norwegians and Russians have a very friendly relationship now, after years of hard work to improve border relations. It’s even been dubbed, “the friendliest Russian border.”

There are talks now of making cross-border travel easier for Norwegians and Russians.

It was a worthwhile experience going to the border station; very, very informative and interesting!

Catholic meets Protestant meets Russian Orthodox church

Catholic meets Protestant meets Russian Orthodox church

On the way home from the station we went into quite a unique church.

It was built to affirm Norwegian sovereignty in this area before the border between Norway and Russia was set. Well, here is the strange yet fascinating thing about the church:

Norway is a Protestant nation – it’s the state religion – but the artist of of the church was converting to Catholicism at the time of construction, thus, there are many Catholic icons and murals inside its walls. For example, the angels. What’s more, Russian Orthodox images fill the church’s walls too! There was a good number of Russians who would have lived in the area while the border was being drawn in the 1920s.

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