'No Peeing Against Russia' Warning Sign on Norwegian Border Puzzles Authorities
Just who put up the sign on the border with Russia remains unknown, but Norwegian border authorities have confirmed that urinating toward the nation's eastern neighbour can indeed be a criminal offence.
A new attention-grabbing sign has been hung up 10 metres from the Norwegian-Russian border that runs along the Jakobselva River, where tourists tend to stop to take pictures.
Located opposite a Russian border post on the other side of the river, a few kilometres away from the popular tourist resort Grense Jakobselv, the sign says "No Peeing Against Russia". Who put the sign up, remains a mystery, national broadcaster NRK reported.
"This is new to me", said Norwegian Border Commissioner Jens Høilund, tasked with ensuring that the border agreement between Norway and Russia is complied with by both parties, told NRK, assuring that the Border Commissariat had nothing to do with it. "Basically, the sign is quite innocent. It provides information, but in a special design", Høilund mused.
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According to him, the sign may have been put up as a warning against behaving insultingly or provocatively, as failure to follow the call risks breaking the boundary regulations.
"It is clear that if you stand and pee over against Russia, it can of course be seen as insulting", Høilund confirmed.
Such incidents are reported from time to time, and it is up to the police to assess whether it constitutes insulting behaviour or not. However, the border commissioner is not aware of any such cases on the Norwegian side side of the border.
"By and large, both locals and tourists are very good at complying with the existing regulations. So I cannot say that this is a problem", he said.
The Norwegian Armed Forces were also unaware of the new sign and pledged to take a closer look at it.
The border commissioner said that the authorities are now considering what to do with the sign, suggesting that it will probably be removed, as this information "must be found elsewhere". According to Høilund, failure to comply may result in fines of NOK 3,000 ($345).
"I want to ask people who travel along the border to show respect for Russia, as they do for other borders, and behave accordingly", Høilund said.
Despite the Norwegian-Russian border being perceived as calm, fines for breaking the border regulations are regularly issued.
In July, a woman was fined NOK 8,000 ($920) for having her hand in Russia, having climbed up a cairn at Treriksrøysen in Pasvik, where Norway, Russia, and Finland meet. The incident was reportedly captured on camera.
In 2016, three Norwegians received fines of NOK 8,000 each after throwing stones at Russia. The people were arrested by the border guard at the same place where the information board now stands.