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Patchwork Barents

The number of nights spent by Russians at tourist accommodation establishments in Barents Finland continued to decline at the beginning of 2016. Norway, on the contrary, had an increased number of guest nights by Russian visitors this year.

January is usually the most popular month of the year for Russian visitors to travel to Northern Finland, measured by the number of overnight stays. However, this January, in most regions of Northern Finland the number of Russian tourists decreased by more than twenty percent, compared to January 2015.

In 2015, over 800,000 tons of crude oil was produced on the Prirazlomnaya platform. This figure is 2.5 times higher than the volume extracted on the Russian Arctic shelf in 2014, reports Gazprom Neft Shelf.

"In 2015, we not only reached the planned number of new oil wells and volume of oil production, but also managed to ensure production safety on the shelf in extreme Arctic conditions," said Gazprom Neft Shelf general director Gennady Lyubin.

In the summer of 2015, Murmansk Oblast registered large outbreaks of a deadly epidemic among river salmon in the region. At the end of the year, regional fishermen faced another concern: new cases of fish disease had reportedly been found in one of the rivers of the Kola Peninsula. 

This time a would-be illness has spread among vendace. Photos of fish with strange spots on their skin were published in the social media in late November.

In five years, goods turnover at Russia’s leading Arctic port has dropped by more than 50 percent. The port, a cornerstone infrastructure object in Murmansk Oblast, in the first ten months of 2015 had a 3,8 percent decline compared with the same period 2014, the Independent Barents Observer reports.

Almost five thousand asylum seekers have crossed the Norwegian-Russian border since the European migrant crisis arose. And they still continue to come. The Norwegian government rings the alarm: all the reception centers in Finnmark are overloaded, and now it has been decided to toughen the asylum regulations.

As the Arctic is becoming an object of steadily growing attention, Murmansk has decided to train specially qualified staff to be able to work under the circumpolar conditions. In particular, the government of Murmansk Oblast has initiated the idea to establish an Arctic State University in the region’s capital.

The first news about the establishment of the Arctic University appeared in the local media last autumn, when the government had created a special working group. Today, the topic is being actively discussed both on the regional, national and international level.