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Estonia said to block Israelis with Russian citizenship from entering

Several Israelis with dual Russian citizenship were barred by Estonian authorities over the past few days from crossing into the country from Russia, Hebrew media reported Saturday.

Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have restricted entry to Russian citizens since September 19. However, the new visa limitations are not meant to apply to holders of Israeli passports, who are able to enter the European Union’s borderless Schengen area visa-free.

Speaking to the Haaretz daily, Lia Chechik, who resides in Russia, said she tried to cross the border with her Israeli passport but was refused by Estonian border guards because she didn’t possess airline tickets to Tel Aviv (despite indicating that was her destination) and for not having valid health insurance for the European Union.

“Until now, they were never interested in this, in all the 33 years of my life,” Chechik said. Haaretz added that she was granted passage when she returned with the required documents.

However, two other men, who refused to give their names, told Haaretz that they too were prevented from crossing into Estonia with Israeli passports, despite holding tickets to Tel Aviv.

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One of the men recounted that the border guards told them: “I can buy 10 tickets like that.” According to the Trueisrael telegram channel, eight other Israelis were also prevented from gaining passage into Estonia.

Cars queue to cross the border from Russia to Finland at the Vaalimaa border check point in Virolahti, Finland, September 23, 2022. (Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP)

The Foreign Ministry said that Israel’s consular service in Finland — also responsible for relations with Estonia — was investigating the matter. The ministry confirmed it had requested a list of documents from the Estonian government that Israelis need to present at the border when crossing from Russia, in order to avoid future trouble.

The problems faced by the dual nationals came as countries neighboring Russia deal with an influx of military-aged men trying to avoid being drafted to fight in Ukraine, after the Kremlin’s partial military mobilization.

In addition to the long lines of traffic at land borders, many tickets to visa-free destinations for Russians, such as Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Serbia are sold out, with those available selling for sky-high prices.