Over the last two years the number of illegal migrants trying to enter Europe through the Kaliningrad Region has increased 10-fold. This was revealed today at a briefing to journalists by Vladimir Pankov, the regional deputy head of the Russian Federal Border Guards. 'In 2000 only nine people were caught trying to enter Europe, but in 2002 there were already 100,' he said. 'On the whole, they are citizens of CIS countries, and also from South-East Asia. The Kaliningrad Region attracts them because of its proximity to well-off Europe, so criminal elements are trying to use the region as a channel for illegal migration. But Kaliningrad border guards are successfully thwarting these attempts - in 2002 the state border was not breached a single time.'
Last year over 9 million people, of whom around half were foreigners, passed through Kaliningrad's borders, together with over 3 million vehicles. Over 2,300 people were detained for illegally trying to cross the border or infringing border control procedures. The effectiveness of the Kaliningrad border guard service is demonstrated by the fact it spends only half of the 280 million roubles allocated to it in the federal budget.
Russia has deployed two armies and three units of Airborne Forces to its western borders as part of a verification check, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu said