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POLITICS

Ex-minister Siri Bjerke dies

Norway’s former Minister for the Environment, Siri Bjerke, has died at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer.

Ex-minister Siri Bjerke dies
Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix (File)

Bjerke died on Saturday, the Labour Party said. She leaves behind a husband and two children.

Siri Bjerke served as environment minister from 2000 to 2001 in Jens Stoltenberg’s first government. She was first elected to the Labour Party’s central committee in 1979.

Since 2005, she has worked as divisional director of Innovation Norway.

Bjerke came from Oslo and was the daughter of economist Juli Bjerke and sister of DnB NOR bank chief Rune Bjerke.

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POLITICS

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Finland has said it has seen a surge in people at its border after Moscow's military call-up announcement. So, what is the situation like at Norway's shared border with Russia? 

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Last week, Russia announced that it would draft new conscriptions as part of a further mobilisation in Ukraine. 

This has led to an exodus of Russian citizens trying to leave the country and avoid being drafted into the military. 

Finland said on Monday that more Russians entered the country over the weekend than in any other this year so far after Moscow’s military call-up announcement caused a surge in arrivals.

“Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the year for traffic on the eastern border,” Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.

The border agency said nearly 8,600 Russians entered Finland via the land border on Saturday, and nearly 4,200 crossed the other way.

Neighbouring Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but is in the Schengen area, also reported a slight increase in crossings from Russia at its Storskog border crossing in the far north.

On Sunday, 243 people entered Norway from Russia, of which 167 had Schengen visas, while 91 left for Russia, according to Norwegian police. The police also stressed that these figures are still lower than the number seen before Covid, but said they expect a possible further increase this week.

Earlier this year, there were media reports that Russians were using Storskog to try and circumnavigate a European-wide flight ban

And last week, A visa agreement for travel between Norway and Russia was suspended. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes that the typical rules for applying for a visa to enter Norway will now apply to Russian citizens.

New visa rules mean that the documentation required to apply will be tightened, multiple-entry visas won’t be issued as part of one application, processing times will go up, and fees will also increase.  

READ MORE: Norway suspends visa agreement with Russia

Norwegian newspaper VG reports that this is among a string of measures the UDI has taken to tighten the rules for obtaining a visa as a Russian citizen. 

Norway’s immigration directorate told VG that tourist visas and those to visit friends would be rejected in most cases. Visa applications are being rejected as there are doubts over whether the applicant would return to Russia upon the visa’s expiration. 

Additionally, Russian citizens were moved to the orange visa group. 

“In the orange group, parents, children, and spouses will generally receive visas, while it is more natural to refuse applications for siblings, distant relatives and boyfriends. It will also be more difficult, but not impossible, to get a visa for business trips and visits with a cultural purpose,” Håvard Sætre from the UDI told the Norwegian newspaper VG

Russians are still able to apply for asylum in Norway. However, to apply, they will need to physically reach Norway first. In 2022, 219 Russian citizens have applied for asylum in Norway. 

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