Some of the asylum seekers who had sought to cross Russia’s border with Finland, but were unable to do so after checkpoints were closed, then faced attempts by the Russian authorities to draft them into the military.
Source: BBC News Russian, as reported by European Pravda
Details: BBC News Russian cites the testimony of Awad, a Somalian refugee, as well as data from Russian human rights activists who have highlighted instances of asylum seekers being enlisted in the Russian military.
Awad said he had arrived in Moscow in July 2023 and made multiple unsuccessful attempts to cross the border between Poland and Belarus. Later, he and another Somalian refugee travelled by taxi to the Finnish border via St Petersburg.
The migrants were already in Karelia when they were stopped by Russian police for having expired visas. They were fined and held for several days in a detention centre for asylum seekers.
Later, Awad and other refugees in the centre received an offer to "work for the state" instead of being deported. Awad and eleven other men agreed. They soon discovered that this involved signing one-year contracts for Russian army service, though the nature of the work itself was not immediately apparent.
Awad told BBC News Russian that after being taken to a military camp close to the Ukrainian border, he and his friends made the decision to decline this "work". They were initially threatened with prison sentences, but ultimately they were granted permission to terminate their contracts and face deportation from the Russian Federation.
- Finland has decided to temporarily close the last functioning checkpoint on the Russian border from 30 November until 13 December, with only freight trains allowed to cross.
- Finland decided to take this step because significantly more people without documents entitling them to enter EU territory began to arrive at checkpoints on the Finnish-Russian border from mid-November onwards. Previously, Russian border guards would not have allowed such travellers to leave.
- Staff from Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, arrived in Finland on 28 November in response to the situation on the eastern border.