Seriously worrying this

Russians are an entrepreneurial lot. They’ve had to be over the decades.

People seeking asylum in Norway have taken to using bicycles to cross the border from Russia because pedestrian traffic is banned and drivers of vehicles are fined if they carry passengers across without the proper documents.

The numbers making that journey, many of them Syrians fleeing civil war, have increased dramatically in the last few weeks after governments in southern Europe cracked down on people trying to enter by that route.

More than 500 would-be asylum seekers have gathered in the Russian town of Nickel, the nearest big settlement to the border post, now they cannot cross into Norway.

“There are more than 500 of the Syrians here. They are continuing to flow into Nickel,” said a Reuters source in the town.

“The local shops are empty of bicycles. No bus or taxi will take the Syrians to Norway because they do not have valid visas and the drivers would be fined by the Norwegians and stripped of their permits to work on international routes.”

Seriously, there should be someone:

“Sergei, go steal 300 bicycles”

“What? Vova, have you lost your mind?”

“Da, go steal 300, 500 kiddie’s bikes. Get them up here, I can sell each one for 60,000 roubles”.

“OK, I’ll tell the boys. Alexi has a truck….”.

And why isn’t someone collecting those discarded rubber boats on Lesbos and reselling them in Turkey?

9 comments on “Seriously worrying this

  1. I’m amazed the migrants have managed to get into Russia in the first place. That was one country that I thought could be relied upon to take border controls seriously.

  2. Tim, they do. Unfortunately no one has got round to fixing the machine guns yet, they still face the wrong way.

  3. It’s not the border, Tim. They’ve thousands of miles of border & there’s always going to be a hole. Especially in a country as enthusiastically entrepreneurial as Russia. It’s getting across Russia.
    Every Russian – or, to be specific, every Russian Russian – I’ve met is enthusiastically & unashamedly racist. With their absence of pale skin & blue eyes, they’re not going to get the slightest bit of help.
    Unless, of course, there’s extensive organisation providing just that. And I find it very hard to believe this couldn’t happen without the tacit approval of the Russian Government.
    I can well imagine, Putin delights in giving the West as much grief as he can orchestrate.

  4. And why isn’t someone collecting those discarded rubber boats on Lesbos and reselling them in Turkey?

    I saw this on telly. usually they are burst when they reach shore, so they cannot be re-used.

  5. Probably you cannot take those rubber boats back to Turkey also because they would be subject to import duties, and the paperwork costs more than new boats. No such worries with the migrants themselves when crossing to EU, they’re exempt of any rules.

    Same may apply to those bicycles. Whatever cheap bikes the people have with them when they cross to Norway, they don’t care. But if you try to take the abandoned bicycles back, you have the customs problem. When you go through customs to Russia, you may bring a maximum of 50 kg of goods with you. So, you cannot bring them back by the truckload.

    The individual bikes go to Norway, but it is not profitable to take them back, because you can only bring 3-4 bicycles with one person.

    Markets tend to solve problems like this; for instance there are the “bus grannies for hire” who are Russian nationals, typically old women, with a permanent visa to Norway or Finland. You can hire a granny, she sits in the bus from Russia to west, does nothing, and then sits again in the bus back from west to Russia and declares “this 50 kg of imports is mine” at Russian tamoshnya.

    Thus, the rent of a granny per day (a few euros) allows you to bring 50 kg more stuff to Russia. Apparently, the price of bicycles in Russia (minus scrap metal value in Norway) is so small that it’s not worth it to hire grannies to bring them back.

  6. It’s not the border, Tim. They’ve thousands of miles of border & there’s always going to be a hole. Especially in a country as enthusiastically entrepreneurial as Russia. It’s getting across Russia.

    It’s not so much that, it’s that I would have assumed any swarthy chap showing up in Russia without the proper visa would be lucky to escape with an almighty kick-in, with the usual punishment being a lengthy spell in an icy labour camp for breaking into Russia. I am amazed the authorities are letting them wander about willy-nilly.

  7. The trick here is that the swarthy chaps have a proper visa for Russia – Assad’s Syria is very friendly with Russia.

    So if Assad wants to send some guys from his intelligence service to watch over those suspicious people who were resisting Assad and fled to, say, Sweden or Norway, what does he do? The route through Russia is quick and cheap (must cheaper than the smugglers’ route through Balkans). Then they will be watching the community there.

  8. Apparently the bikes are below the Norwegian standards so the border guards have them collected up every few days and scrapped, maybe they don’t want them going back to Russia as the supply of bikes acts as a constraint on the number crossing.

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