"It’s a mysterious river, on a strange border: the Pasvik River flows from Lake Inari in Finland and ends north, into the Barents Sea. It runs for 145 kilometers between Finland, Russia and Norway, in the middle of Lapland.
During the Cold War, NATO and the Warsaw Pact opposed there, making it one of the most watched rivers on the planet. And yet, border guards say it’s one of the quietest rivers ever.

Strange border, mysterious Pasvik.

Sometimes, Norwegian reindeer cross it and find themselves on the Russian side, forcing the Border Commissioner to go on a mission.
Reindeer herders are fighting to assert their rights over remote pastures at the crossroads of the three borders, in these lands where the old Skolts Sámi have been swept by border tracers on both sides of the river.

Mysterious Pasvik who tells a part of Sámi people's history, wounded Pasvik who tells the blind madness of men, in the most remote places.

Norwegian scientists are monitoring the pollution of the Russian industrial complex of Nikel, another danger for the border people.
Soon, the population of Kirkenes might build a rail road to connect Finland and the rest of the European continent, in able to sell Asian goods: at the pace of global warming, the Arctic ocean’s ice bank is decreasing, which liberates the sea route that connects Asia with Europe.
Kirkenes, a small Norwegian mining town where the Pasvik River flows in to the sea, is thus preparing to welcome the Chinese cargo ships that are starting to prefer this northern route, shorter and cheaper than the Suez Canal one.

Kirkenes, where already today, Russian sailors are ignoring borders, docking their trawlers when they do not fish king crab at sea.

Will Pasvik loose its mystery?

During our journey, we went along this mysterious river, from the depths of the Pasvik valley where Sámi people try to preserve their traditions, to Kirkenes and the Barents Sea where one dreams of chinese freighters.

After having been the place of confrontation between the two super powers, the Pasvik River could become the emblematic scene of a new battle, between two visions of the world.
From the deep history of this territory to its global future, following the river's course."

Olivier Truc


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This project, achieved in collaboration with writer and journalist Olivier Truc, is a recipient of the "Reporters in the Fields" grant from Robert Bosch Foundation (Germany), and has been published so far in:
- The Barents Observer (Norway)
- Esquire (Russia)
- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany)



The Pasvik River in wintertime.

Young Norwegian conscript in charge of patrolling the banks of the Pasvik River.

Telephone intended to connect the two Norwegian and Soviet border posts during the Cold War.

Ulf Gøran Mathisen, border commissioner, patrolling on the river, Norwegian side.

Ingar Solberg, policeman at the Nyrud border Station, Norway.

Border marked in the forest: on the left is Russia, on the right is Finland. (Treriksrøysa three-border zone.)

A Norwegian conscript takes a break while watching the Russian/Finnish/Norwegian
border, at Treriksrøysa three-border zone.

Norwegian patrol near the Russian border, in the forest.

Sergey, Russian crab fisherman in front of his trawler moored at the port of Kirkenes,
Norway.

Russian crab trawlers moored at the port of Kirkenes, Norway.

Ornamental door, Kirkenes, Norway, with the inscription in Chinese: “The northernmost Chinatown in the world”.

Midnight sun over the Pasvik River, Norwegian side. Russia in on the other bank.

Aleksander Fedukhin, who searches for the remains of soldiers from the Second World War,
in the Nikel region, Russia.

Aleksander Fedukhin showing bullets from WWII, found nearby the Pasvik River in the Nikel region, Russia, while looking for soldiers remains.

Vadim Neganov searching for remains of soldiers from the Second WorldWar, in the Nikel region, Russia.

Foundry of Nikel, Russia. In the distance, the Pasvik River.

Alyona, inhabitant of Nikel, Russia, and her rabbits.

In the old mine in Nikel, Russia, nearby the Pasvik River

Aleksey fishing by the river, in Nikel, Russia.

Homemade datchas, on the russian side of the Pasvik River, in Nikel.

Border fence on the Russian side of the river.

In the kennel of Larissa Vinogradova in Nikel, Russia, where stray dogs threatening to cross
the Russian-Norwegian border - and thus being shot - are collected.

Aimo, Sámi fisherman on Lake Inari, Finland, where the Pasvik River originates.

Watchtower over the river, from Russian side.

Sign showing the border between Finland and Russia, in the middle of the Pasvik river.

The city of Kirkenes, Norway, and the Barents Sea in wintertime.

Norwegian watchtower nearby the river.

The reindeer herd of the Sámi herder Egil Kalliainen, Norway, nearby the Pasvik river.

The Pasvik River flowing into the Barents sea, Kirkenes, Norway, in wintertime.

The reindeer herd of the Sámi herder Egil Kalliainen, Norway, nearby the Pasvik river.
     

   
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