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3 Jun, 2010 01:53

Finland postpones deportation of ill 82-year-old Russian woman

A wheelchair-bound elderly Russian woman is awaiting her fate as Finnish authorities debate whether to deport her.

82-year-old Irina Antonova was due to be returned to Russia on Thursday. However, Finnish immigration authorities are waiting for the results of a medical examination before deciding what to do.

Irina has been staying with her daughter in Helsinki on a guest visa for more than two years, though it has since expired.

She was denied leave to stay in the country despite being in a wheelchair and with no family to look after her in Russia.

Under Finnish law, foreign women who have children living in Finland do not qualify for residency.

But the Russian Antonova is not alone in her troubles – 65-year-old Eveline Fadayel from Egypt is also on the list for deportation.

The story of two grandmas has caused sensation in the calm Nordic state and compelled the Finnish government to propose a reform of the immigration law, which would grant authorities additional discretion to consider humanitarian factors.

Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said he was extremely disappointed that his government had failed to help the two elderly ladies.

The country’s President Tarja Halonen also came out strongly in favor of the two women.