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Estonia Turns Away Ukrainians Fleeing From Russia, Volunteers Say

Checkpoint on the border between Russia and Estonia. Sergei Stepanov / Zuma / TASS

Estonia has barred entry to a group of Ukrainians entering from Russia who apparently fled the destroyed port city of Mariupol, according to volunteers who help refugees escape war-torn Ukraine. 

“Been in Russia too long,” volunteer Svetlana Vodolazskaya quoted Estonian border guards as saying to a Ukrainian family that was refused entry to the Baltic state.

The family said that they told the border guards they were unable to leave Russia earlier because there was “no money and no opportunity,” according to a screenshot posted by Russian human rights activist Grigory Mikhnov-Vaitenko. 

Despite anecdotal evidence of Ukrainians deported to Russia having difficulties traveling on to Europe, it was not immediately clear whether the Estonian practice of denying entry to Ukrainians was widespread. Nor was it clear when the incident with the family took place. 

But Monday’s social media posts came as Estonia prepares to close its border from Thursday to tens of thousands of Russian nationals with previously issued visas. 

At least three Russian nationals, including a journalist, have been recently denied entry into Estonia. 

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Russia, or been forcibly transported out of Ukraine, following the Russian invasion. Most are obliged to go through so-called filtration camps where reports of mistreatment and abuse are common.

Estonia is estimated to have received more than 50,000 refugees from Ukraine.

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