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In a time where freedom of information is on decline all around the world, the Nordic states remain on top of the list over countries with the highest level of press freedom.
Hundreds of Norwegians and Russians arrived in the first week of February in the town of Kirkenes on the Russian-Norway border to see the spectacular installations, to visit unusual exhibitions and to speculate about the future of the Arctic territories at the international art festival Barents Spektakel.
Unprecedented openness from Norwegian Border Guard
15 journalists from different TV-companies, newspapers and magazines in Northwest-Russia were last week invited to visit Norwegian border guard installations along the border.
This was the first time Russian media was allowed to see how the border is being protected from the Norwegian side.
- This is our small contribution to the openness along the Norwegian-Russian border, said Head of the Norwegian Border Guard Lieutenant Colonel Jørn Erik Berntsen. – We have very little to hide, since about 80 percent of our tasks are related to police work, and not military operations.
The Russian journalists were welcomed at the Elvenes border guard station and later transported by snow scooters to Skoltfossnakken observation post, overlooking the Russian enclave Borisoglebsk on the western side of the Pasvik river.
- This is just fantastic, says Natalia Sevets-Ermolina from the PTZ magazine in Petrozavodsk. - This could never happen in Russia. The secrecy around all types of military installations is still very strong, she adds.
The journalists were invited by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat to take part in the Barents Spektakel Festival in Kirkenes.
Russian journalists have on earlier occasions been given insights in how the Norwegian border Guard works, but then only in the staged settings of joint Norwegian-Russian exercises.
Text: Trude Pettersen