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Walking St. Petersburg. Sestra River, border between Russia and Finland


The boundary between Russia and Finland used to be near Beloostrov, a settlement and a rail station north of St. Petersburg.


Before 1918, the Sestra River was the boundary between the Grand Duchy of Finland and the rest of the Russian Empire, of which Finland was part. The Finns would call the Sestra River ‘Rajajoki’, the Finnish for ‘Borderline river’.

Sergey Melekhin, a local history expert, tells: ‘You would not even call it a proper border. Many residents of St. Petersburg had summer houses in Finland. Repino, Solnechnoe, Komarovo were all on the Finnish territory then’.

After Finland declared its independence in 1918 and until 1940 the Sestra River remained the borderline between Finland and the Soviet Union. Those who had been living here for long, say it was forbidden to swim or fish in the river.

Irina Rebane, a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad, recalls: ‘It was forbidden even to come close to it, there were eight rows of barbed wire. It was a border zone, we had to show passports to get there’.

For more details, you can watch the film of the “Small homelands in big St. Petersburg” series at (in Russian).

Photo anf video: St. Petersburg TV channel