Finland passes laws to strengthen security on Russian border

A view of the deserted border station stalls at the Imatra border crossing point with Russia, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Imatra, Finland March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Essi Lehto/Files

HELSINKI, July 7 (Reuters) - Finland's parliament on Thursday voted in favour of legislation that would allow barriers on the country's border with Russia and enable the closure of the 1,300-km (800 miles) frontier from asylum seekers in case of exceptional circumstances.

The bill on preparedness, while contested in terms of European Union asylum rules, was passed by a supermajority that allows parliament to fast-track laws, amid fears Russia could retaliate over Finland's plans to join the NATO military alliance.

It will also allow the government to decide to build fences or other barriers near Finnish borders and direct all asylum applications to one or several border crossings, such as an airport.

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Reporting by Essi Lehto and Anne Kauranen in Helsinki, editing by Anna Ringstrom and Angus MacSwan

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