The High North Tour 2021: The Police Chief by the Russian Border

Finnmark Police Chief Ellen Katrine Hætta wants as much as possible open close to the Norwegian-Russian border. (Photo: Arne O. Holm)

Utnes, Pasvik: Police Chief Ellen Katrine Hætta in Finnmark leads a very special police district. It is Norway’s second largest police district, but also the one with the fewest inhabitants. And it borders on Russia.

"We have a good and clear relation to Russian authorities", the police chief says to High North News.

The interview takes place literally on the border to Norway’s eastern neighbor. Around her, Norwegian conscripts operate.

When I ask her about how often she has to persecute border violations, Ellen Katrine Hætta praises the Norwegian soldiers.

Soldiers on police duty

“Having hundreds of soldiers doing police duties on a daily basis is very special, and they are great at preventing violations of the border. People who move along the border are often met by soldiers who tell them about the border regime and warn against standing too close to the border at the risk of violating it. So there are not a lot of violations.”

The pandemic is felt in the border region too.

“It is primarily a challenge for the population, which holds a desire to still be able to move across the border. That is something we all want, but we cannot do it now”, Hætta says.

“We have Russian sailors who frequently cross the border at Storskog [the border crossing station, ed.note], and there have been worries from some that infection might spread across the border in this way, given the infection situation in Russia. However, not many of those crossing the border have proven to be infected, so there is absolutely no need to worry.”

As available as possible

According to Hætta, Norwegian authorities are focused on keeping most things available.

“People are free to use nature, and also be near the border, but should at the same time respect the rules. This is an incredibly exciting area in every sense of the word”, Police Chief Ellen Katrine Hætta says to High North News.

Watch the entire interview with the police chief on top of this page. (Subtitles available in English.)

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.