Border crossing for work and dreams

Antonina Sheltova lives in Murmansk. She has a small hat shop in the city center, but travels frequently to Norway, to sell Russian products.

For the tradeswomen, the journey is not only about the extra income, as it has also become a pleasant tradition for the group, and a break from the daily routine in Russia.

Since the end of the cold war women has traveled from Murmansk and the Barents region of Russia to Kirkenes, in order to sell Russian products and goods.

"It's not only about the money, it is also a pleasant journey"

Antonina and her colleagues say that the trade in itself has gotten harder. Most people in Kirkenes seem to have their load of typical Russian products.

Kirkenes often promotes itself as the borderless town in a borderless county, and the Russian marketplace that takes place once a month, and on festivals, is often presented as a proof. Yet they have been met by bureaucracy and even ridicule.

For many years, the women have experienced bureaucratic hardships with the Norwegian visa regime. Various regulations have limited their activity, and at periods made it expensive.

The Consul that Antonina and her colleges are trying to have a word with in the film, is the former Norwegian Consul General in Murmansk, Øyvind Nordsletten. Nordsletten says in a comment to, that he and his colleagues have been working hard to improve visa regulations in his time as a General Consulate in Murmansk.

Over the past years, visa regulations between Norway and Russia have indeed changed.

The Russian tradeswomen now have a possibility to come to Norway without a residence permit, like for example workers in the fish factory need. The cost of visas is also lowered, and this has facilitated their business.

They can trade in Norway for a maximum of 28 days each year, and have to report to the police for each time they enter the Kingdom of Norway. They also need permission from each municipality they want to trade in.

This story was first published in 2013.

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