To Schengen through Russian Arctic: Russia as a country of transit

Theme 2. Connectivity
Session Name 2.8 Border securitization and connectivity in the Arctic
Datetime Sep 06, 2018 01:45 PM - 02:00 PM (UTC +3)
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Minna Piipponen (University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Finland)
Abstract text

In the winter of 2015-2016, 7500 asylum seekers entered Schengen by using the northernmost border crossing points on the Finnish-Russian and Norwegian-Russian borders. Most of them used Russia as a transit country, but a part of those approximately 1750 asylum seekers who entered Finland, representing over 30 different nationalities, had stayed in Russia already for years. The Arctic route to Europe was clearly an alternative to the crowded Mediterranean routes, and it had certain specificities relating to particular migratory processes in Russia.

This paper aims at increasing understanding of Russia as a country of transit by focusing on those who entered Finland between September 2015 and February 2016. The empirical analysis is based on the qualitative content analysis of the asylum protocols of the Finnish Border Guard, Police, and the Finnish Immigration Service.

Who were these transit migrants? Why did they take this route? How was it organised, and what do we know about the different kinds of facilitators along the route? What kind of experiences of Russia and expectations for Europe/Finland did the asylum seekers express, and how did they talk about the border crossing?

Even this short ‘episode’ demonstrates, that migratory processes, e.g. asylum, transit and secondary migration, have mixed rather than strictly separate migrant categories. People have overlapping histories and motives to relocate, and when conditions change during the journeys, migrants take parallel and consecutive movements and steps. In addition to the straightforward transit through Russia, the secondary migration from Russia reached the Arctic too.

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