Staunton, Aug. 3 – Having foreign consulates sets cities like St. Petersburg which have them apart from those which don’t, giving them a foreign dimension by linking them directly to foreign states rather than having to go through Moscow on all questions. Thus, residents of the northern capital oppose Moscow’s decision to shutter the Finnish consulate there by two to one.
That is the result of an informal and undoubtedly not perfectly representative survey taken by the Gorod-812 portal. Thirty percent of the 716 people who took part backed Moscow’s decision, but 70 percent said that what the central government had done was a mistake and harmed the city’s interests.
Perhaps the title of the article reporting on the poll says it best: “without a Finnish consulate, Petersburg already is not what it was.” Symbolically, it left the city without a gateway to Europe; and practically, it meant that it would now be harder for its residents to go there (gorod-812.ru/bez-finskogo-konsulstva-peterburg-uzhe-ne-tot/).
Those who supported Moscow’s decision divided between 19 percent of all respondents who said that having such a consulate in St. Petersburg was “senseless” under current conditions and 11 percent suggested that the step had to be taken in response to Helsinki’s moves against Russian diplomats in Finland.
But half of the 70 percent who opposed Moscow’s move said it was a mistake because at some point a Finnish consulate would have to be reopened. One fifth said that the closure would only “provoke” Finland to discriminate against Russians, and one seventh felt closure served no useful purpose and only made going to Europe more difficult.