UPDATED: Finland’s border guard says traffic on border with Russia increasing

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HELSINKI, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Traffic arriving at Finland’s eastern border with Russia has “intensified” during the night, the Finnish Border Guard said early on Thursday, while adding that the situation was under control.

Finland is closely monitoring the situation in neighbouring Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s order of military mobilisation, Finland’s defence minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s number of people crossing the border was, however, lower than during the weekend, said the Finnish border guard’s head of international affairs Matti Pitkaniitty.

He said 4,824 Russians arrived in Finland via the eastern border on Wednesday, up from the 3,133 a week earlier.

Border guards were ready at nine checkpoints, Pitkaniitty told Reuters.

The Kremlin on Thursday said reports of an exodus of draft-age men from Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation were “exaggerated”.

Since President Putin declared a partial mobilisation of reservists on Wednesday, flights for the coming days from Russia to nearby countries including Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Serbia have sold out entirely. Lengthy tailbacks were reported at Russia’s borders with Georgia, Finland, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

In a call with reporters, Peskov said: “The information about the hype at airports and so on is very much exaggerated … There is a lot of fake information about this. We need to be very careful about this so as not to become a victim of false information on this matter.”

Peskov declined to deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilisation protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft papers, saying: “This is not against the law.”

The OVD-Info rights group reported that over 1,300 people in 38 cities had been detained on Wednesday for protesting against the mobilisation decree.

The Russian news site Mediazona reported that at least three men detained in Moscow had been given mobilisation summons while at police stations

Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik

Photo: A file photo of Finnish border guard on the border with Russia. Photo Courtesy of Rajavartiolaitos – Gränsbevakningsväsendet

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