20 • 12 • 2018

Illegal Border Crossers in LVM Frontier Area Forests

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Ingrīda Šīriņa, Forestry Specialist at JSC "Latvia's State Forests" (LVM) Northern Latgale Region, has received a letter of recognition from the State Border Guard of the Republic of Latvia for her personal contribution to the implementation of the tasks assigned to the State Border Guard in combating illegal migration. When inspecting forests in the frontier area, LVM employees must inform the Border Guard about their presence and any suspicious observations. In addition, they must carry along their passport as well as a pass issued by the State Border Guard.

When performing her daily duties at Žīguri Forest District, the LVM employee noticed a suspicious person with large bags. "When I work closer than 12 kilometres from the border, I inform the Border Guard about my presence. That day, I noticed a dark-skinned man on the edge of the forest, who looked worried and nervous and a heap of clothes and bags lying nearby. I felt uncomfortable because the intentions of the man were not clear, so I immediately called the Border Guard. He advised me not to stop and continue to drive slowly. Soon Border Guards arrived at the scene. It turned out that the border of our country was illegally crossed by three citizens of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," remembers Ingrīda Šīriņa.

"It was a great surprise and honour for me when Major Mārtiņš Griestiņš, Chief of the State Border Guard Viļaka Administration Lavošnieki Border Guard Unit, came to me after this event and presented a letter of recognition," adds the LVM employee.

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In turn, Viktors Reblis, LVM Forestry Manager of Northern Latgale Region, working in the frontier area remembers a number of cases related to illegal border crossing. "Around the year 2000, in the woods, a few dozen metres from the Russian border, I noticed a man with a big bag who was coming in my direction. An hour later, I saw the same man at the bus stop. This man had not been previously seen in Žīguri, so for security reasons, I informed the Border Guard who detained him. It was later found that the man had crossed the border illegally with the aim of going to Jūrmala to work in construction. It was not his first experience of illegal border crossing," says the Forestry Manager.

"A few years later, a forest fire broke out near the border in Žīguri Forest District near Katleši. 7 hectares of forest area burnt out, including a young forest stand. When the fire was extinguished, a tuft hut was found in front of which there was a pot hanging on a camp-fire, with some dishes and food supplies. This camp-fire turned out to be the cause of the fire. A week later, the police in Balvi detained a drunk young man lying on a park bench. It turned out that it was a deserter of the Russian Border Guard, who, having passed over to the Latvian side, lived in the woods, stealing products from the nearby houses," recalls Viktors Reblis, LVM Forestry Manager of Northern Latgale Region.