Thanks barentsnova.com for mapping the off-limit-to-foreigners areas of the Kola Peninsula

off-limit-to-foreignersI’ve stumbled upon this sketch at www.barentsnova.com and am happy to share it with you, as an illustration to my verbatim translation from a legal database.

The only comment I’d like to add is that foreign travellers are allowed on main roads eg. to Varzuga (south) or Pechenga (north west corner of the map), which is not shown on this diagram.

Watch for signs like this: 

From what I know the consequences of being caught have not been too serious so far – a few hours at the police station, and then you are let off with a warning. Remember about rising political tension however and the likely possibility you’ll be detained as a spy, with all the ugly consequences.

Visa support for “Third World” travellers to Russia

travelrussia.190x51Years ago I recommended www.travelrussia.su to a traveller from Rwanda (Africa) who has finally made it here this Fall with a visa obtained based on their invitation, and was happy to recommend them. And here I am passing this info on to you. The rate (under $100) seems entirely reasonable, and the service was said to be quick and trouble-free. Talk to them if you are a citizen of one of these places that are on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “migration risk” list.

Back from Finland, impressed with how cheap Russia is

roubleThis recent trip drove home how inexpensive Russia has become following the fall of the rouble. Across the board prices here are half of what they are in Finland.

I’d say if you are thinking of visiting Russia at all do it now, while it is cheap, before rouble inflation catches up with rising dollar and euro.

Consequences of trespassing to “no foreigner” zones

procecutorJust spoke with a recently retired Umba and Kandalaksha procecutor. Asked him about what happens to foreigners caught in the “no foreigner” zones such as Umba or Sredny/Rybachy peninsula. The answer was that such cases have been extremely rare and that no consequences beyond a small fine and 2-3 hours at the police station can be expected. The fact that these areas are not clearly marked takes most of the blame off the offender, he said. But remember his was retired! And the trend in the last few years has been towards “tightening the nuts”. But my impression based on the conversation is that getting into these zones is not such a big deal.

Permit to visit Sredny and Rybachy Peninsula for Russian nationals

..with contact details of FSB in Murmansk for foreigners: http://mpr.gov-murman.ru/activities/09.oopt/forms/index.php [June 2016: the form is no longer there and may not be required. Talk to me if heading there and I’ll give a call to someone there to check on the current situation.]. Applied on my own and Alexandra’s behalf and was given the permit right away. Off to Rybachi in a few days.

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Being arrested for “no foreigner” zone tresspassing is a realistic possibility

handcuffsToday I got a call from the local court in Kandalaksha asking me to translate at a hearing dedicated to a foreign traveller caught in a no-foreigners zone.

So I thought I’d remind would-be travellers that things like arrest and other ugly consequences are possible and do happen. Unfortunately, the court’s request for a translator was cancelled so I can’t tell you details of the story. I will however share another episode, personally known to me, when an elderly couple was held and hassled for four hours for the same “offence” before being released, this time with no consequences.

Need to travel to Umba or Sredny or Rybachy? Talk to me, I’ll try to assist you in getting the permit.

Passes to border zones in the Kandalaksha and Kovdor districts

no-entryYou may want to get close to the border to see WWII and “Winter war” artifacts like the German of Finnish cemetery by Old Salla. If so, you’ll need a special permit.

(And you are welcomed to ask for my assistance in obtaining these permits.)

Here is some recent info on where to go for these permits:

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A near-official list of “permits required of foreigners” locations of the Murmansk oblast

“Coastline of the Kola Peninsula 10km wide from Cape Krestovy to River Voron’ya. The area west of River Voron’ya limited from south and west by the Tumanny to Kola road, railroad Kola to Pechenga and line from Pechenga to Dolgaya Schel’ bay except the named populated points, auto and railroads, and the city of Murmansk that can be passed though via the railroad, automobile from Kola via Zapolarny-Kola-Murmansk highway. The area limited from the north with a section of regional highway from Mushukovo to Snezhnogorsk to a 5km post, then straight line east to the Kola Bay coastline, from the west auto road Zapolarny-Kola-Murmansk, from the south northern edge of the city of Murmansk on the west coast of the Kola Bay, from the east – coast of the Kola Bay, indicated part of the auto road from Mishukovo to Snezhnogorsk and also the coastline of the Kola Peninsula 15km wide from Fedorovka Bay to Dolgaya Bay and the river of Dolgaya, with transit to the said stretch along the Kola-Teriberka road. Kandalaksha Bay area one kilometer wide along the coast limited by Cape Kochinny and Cape Titov in the west and Cape Nosok and Cape Sharapov in the east.”

Verbatim translation from the legal database http://base.garant.ru/104408/#block_10#ixzz3W2YM0DZH

I’m sure many travellers would be delighted to see that on the map. I’d greatly appreciate if someone was to put the areas on the map, clearly indicating which towns and villages fall within the “permits required” zone.

Visitng off-limit to foreigners and “close-to-border” areas

sredny-n-rybachy-2kildinPresently I’ve been studying rather intensely the situation with entry to restricted area for foreign travellers, namely to the Rybachy Peninsula and the island of Kil’din. As expected, encountering a bureaucratic mess. Not clear at the moment as to who is responsible for permits: FSB (a heir to KGB), or Border Patrol, or Federal Migration Services. The situation is further complicated by a very recent change of areas’ status into that of “protected territories”, which may put nature protection people in charge.

If interested in visiting these places watch for news here, under Attention foreign travellers. Updates on the subject should appear there very soon.

If per chance you know someone who recently travelled there, I’d love to speak with them.

More hassles promised for foreign travellers to Russia

no-entry-to-foreignersRecent (January 2015) rule from the Federal Migration Services makes it mandatory for travellers to supply a list of all places they plan to visit, where they will get registered, and by whom.

Up to now incoming tourists could register without specifying in advance the exact time and place they will be in, which gave them considerable freedom to make their itinerary as they go.

No wonder there is a significant drop in tourists travelling to Russia.

I’d very much like to hear how the new rule looks from the travellers’ point of view, what extra documents are now required, and in exactly what way the procedure to obtain the Russian visa has been made more difficult.

Found on Eye on the Arctic.