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OFFBEAT

In Norway, peeing toward Russia will get you fined

A new sign posted at Norway's river border with Russia reminds tourists feeling nature's call that it's against the law to pee in the direction of Russia - on pain of a hefty fine.

In Norway, peeing toward Russia will get you fined
A Norwegian border official. Photo by Petter Bernsten / AFP

Written in English in black block letters, the sign posted on the banks of the Jakobselva river that separates Norway from Russia reads: “No Peeing Towards Russia”.

It is placed next to an official signpost informing people that the area is under video surveillance by Norwegian border guards.

“The sign was probably posted by well-intentioned people to warn passers-by against offensive behaviour,” Norway’s border commissioner Jens-Arne Hoilund told AFP, confirming a report on the internet site Barents Observer, which posted a picture of the new sign.

Infringers face a fine of 3,000 kroner (290 euros, $340). The area is popular with tourists on the Norwegian side, where you can easily see Russia just a few metres (yards) away across the river.

“Urinating in nature is not necessarily offensive but it depends on your point of view. In this case it falls under the law banning offensive behaviour at the border,” Hoilund said.

A Norwegian law prohibits “offensive behaviour at the border intended for the neighbouring state or its authorities.”

According to Hoilund, who is tasked with ensuring that agreements regulating neighbourly relations between Norway and Russia are respected, Russian authorities have never complained about urination incidents at the border.

Barents Observer meanwhile recalled that four people were arrested by Norwegian border guards several years ago after throwing stones at the Russian side, and last winter, a woman filmed by a surveillance camera was fined 8,000 kroner for putting her left hand on the other side of the border.

“You may think that’s severe, but we just apply the border rules as they are,” Hoilund said.

Norway’s 197.7-kilometre (123-mile) land border with Russia is NATO’s northern border in the Arctic.

Oslo and Moscow have traditionally enjoyed good relations, though tensions have risen since Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Crimean peninsula.

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OFFBEAT

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration will need to clear up more than 1,000 trucks worth of stones and rubble it left near the stunning UNESCO world heritage listed Nærøyfjord.

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord
Nærøyfjorden near to where the Norwegian Public Roads Administration left behind more than 11,000 cubic metres of rocks. Photo by Arian Zwegers on Flickr.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumping are typically associated with rogue tradespeople and cowboy builders, but it’s the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that is being asked to clear some 11,250 cubic metres of rocks it left near a UNESCO listed beauty spot.

The breathtaking Nærøyfjord in Aurland municipality, south-western Norway, is a landscape conservation area meaning its protected and, therefore, the rubble shouldn’t have been left there.

“This is a blister. We will clean up after ourselves,” Stig Berg Thomassen, project manager for the road authority, told NRK.

The rocks were left behind following a project to upgrade the nearby Gudvanga tunnel.

Thomassen said the mess was left in the conservation area because it wasn’t clearly marked as off-limits.

Nærøyfjorden has been listed as a landscape conservation area since 2002, and the site was added to the UNESCO world heritage list a few years later in 2005.

READ ALSO: You can now get married at this famous Norwegian beauty spot

The municipality in Aurland has given the road authority until December 17th to clear the mess. The mayor for the municipality said the road authority would begin to clear up the remnants of its building project as soon as possible.

The stones won’t be going far, though and will only be moved around 50 to 100 metres along the road to where the conservation area ends.

Project manager Thomassen has admitted that the situation could have been avoided with better planning.

“Yes, we should have probably have done that (prepared better). The situation is as it is, so we just have to clean up. It won’t take long to move the rocks. The Stones will only be transported 50 to 100 meters,” he confessed.

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