'No peeing towards Russia' sign appears on country's Arctic border with Norway
Don't poke the bear! Or urinate on it
If you're ever holidaying in the frigid wastes of Finnmark – where the borders of Norway, Finland, and Russia meet – don't do the whole "now I'm in Norway, now I'm in Russia" skit because in Norway they don't tolerate that kind of crap.
According to English-language news website The Barents Observer, whose existence we only learned of today, a sign has been posted outside the village of Grense Jakobselv warning: "No peeing towards Russia."
The Norwegian-Russian border follows the Jakobselva river and the sign is located on its Norwegian bank, where tourists often stop for pictures.
Though the notice is far from official in provenance, The Barents Observer's report suggests that it's actually quite sound advice.
We're told by Norway's Border Commissioner, Jens Høilund, that the area is closely monitored by the military and police, who "will try to prevent incidents that could lead to violation of the agreement with Russia, including insulting behaviour."
Yes, apparently being a bit cheeky to the Beast in the East from the Norwegian side of the fence is punishable by law. Legislation from 1950 under the National Borders Act specifically rules out "offensive behaviour at the border, directed at the neighbouring state or its authorities."
Such violations "shall be punished by fines or imprisonment for up to 3 months if the matter is not affected by stricter penalties," the document reads.
And Norwegian authorities do enforce it, even in a sparsely populated region where the annual average temperature is -2.4°C (27.7°F) by virtue of falling within the Arctic Circle.
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The Observer goes on to list a couple of recent incidents, like when four people were "detained by border guards after throwing stones across the border into Russia" a few years back. It adds: "Last winter, a woman put her left hand across the border to Russia. She was fined 8,000 kroner (€772) by the police." Yikes.
Neither Høilund nor the Chief of Police in Finnmark, Ellen Katrine Hætta, know who put up the "peeing" sign – but, as we said, tourists would do well to heed it, because the area is covered in CCTV cameras.
"Norway's 197.7 km long land border to Russia is likely the most peaceful border of all Russia's external borders," the report concludes, happily adding: "Unchanged since agreed in 1826, the border is also a sign of peace; Norway is the only neighbor that Russia has not been at war with."
So no urinating, throwing stones, or waving hands at Russia, folks! You don't want to ruin that 200-year peace streak. But you might be able to get away with a fart in that general direction. ®