In Poland and the Baltic countries, the end of tourist visas granted to Russians

► On what grounds do the four countries prohibit tourist visas for Russian nationals?

The agreement was sealed in a coordinated manner between Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Since Monday, September 19, the four countries have temporarily decided to no longer issue tourist visas to Russians, “in order to counter immediate threats to public order and security”. The prohibition also extends to grounds judged “non-essential”cultural, sporting or commercial.

In their joint declaration, the quartet justifies the approach by the fact that “Three quarters of Russian citizens support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine”. Just like his counterparts, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš also makes it a moral matter: “It is unacceptable for Russian tourists to enjoy life in Europe when Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine”he tweeted.

What consequences can this have?

Many Russian nationals, journalists, dissidents, representatives of civil society are worried about what will happen next. They fear that they will no longer be able to leave, or that they will be returned to Russia if they cannot renew the tourist visa which, in many cases, allowed them to enter the territory. People already in exile also fear that they will no longer be able to receive visits from their relatives who have remained in Russia.

However, exceptions to the restrictions have been provided for. In their common approach, the four capitals ensure that the visa ban will not apply to politically persecuted opponents, for humanitarian reasons or for their family members. “That’s not how things work in Russia.disputes a journalist exiled in Latvia approached by The cross. Outside of Moscow, it is very difficult to gain access to embassies to apply for a humanitarian visa. Most people who left on a tourist visa packed their bags in two hours, without putting together a file to prove their good faith. »

► Are these measures being debated in the European Union?

Finland, which shares 1,340 kilometers of border with Russia, has opted for a strong restriction on tourist visas granted to Russians, rather than an outright ban. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto refuses to consider all Russians a danger. “As far as we are concerned, such an interpretation would be alarmist. We consulted the defense police and the border guards. They didn’t see every Russian as a security threat.”did he declare.

On August 31, foreign ministers suspended the 2007 agreement on visa facilitation between the EU and Russia, which has the effect of increasing the cost of residence permits. Some Member States have taken the path of banning tourist visas. This is the case of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark or Belgium. But for the three European countries that grant the most tourist visas to Russians (Greece, Italy and Spain), there is no question of following suit.


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