RUSSIA: Three Cubans who took the desperate step of trying to cross one of Europe’s most sensitive border rivers on air beds now face deportation from Russia.
Russian border guards say that they were caught trying to paddle across into the EU state (European Union) of Estonia. They were hoping to get to Spain, where one of them has a daughter living, according to their statement made to the guards.
The three people caught on the River Narva in Russia were given a fine and deportation order and were placed in a holding centre for migrants near the city of St Petersburg.
Border guards have given scarce details of the three, like saying only that they are Cuban citizens born in 1968, 1970 and 1992.
The guards added, they had planned their crossing after carefully studying the local terrain and getting the air beds. The Cubans were held with bags containing personal belongings, toiletries and identity papers.
Cubans cannot enter the EU legally without a visa, however, they only need their passports to visit Russia for tourism.
Over the past 60 years, tens of thousands of people have tried to flee Communist Cuba but more usually leave the Caribbean island for the U.S., travelling by boat and ship, often at great personal risk.
Until 1898, Cuba was a Spanish colony and Spain has a long-established Cuban community.
This is not the first time migrants have tried to cross the Narva from Russia.
Occasionally, migrants try to cross the Narva from Russia, on one such event in 2018, a man claiming to be an Egyptian was rescued from drowning by Estonian border guards when he tried to swim over.
Moscow’s relations with Estonia, which was part of the USSR until 1991, have been strained for years, and Nato keeps combat forces in its small member state to deter any potential military action by Russia.
Nato is an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries and 2 North American countries, with the aim to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.