Latvian Foreign Minister urges EU to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians
Rinkevics called for limiting the issuance of only tourist visas. Earlier, he said that this idea had already been discussed in the European Union, but it was not possible to agree on this matter. The EU has previously ruled out a total visa ban for Russians< source srcset="https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/resized/800xH/media/img/0/75/756592073415750.webp 800w" type="image/webp" media="(max-width: 400px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)" >< source srcset="https://s0.rbk.ru/v6_top_pics/resized/1200xH/media/img/0/75/756592073415750.webp 1200w" type="image/webp" media="(min-resolution: 192dpi) " >
EU countries should stop issuing visas to Russian citizens, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter.
“I repeat the proposal to introduce a ban on EU tourist visas for [Russian] citizens»,— he wrote.
Earlier, on July 24, he wrote on the social network that such an initiative had already been discussed at the EU level, but to achieve a “common position” failed. The day before, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu made a similar proposal to the European authorities. He explained this by the fact that Russian citizens still enter the country on visas of other states, although Estonia has stopped issuing them. “This mouse hole needs to be plugged,” — he declared.
Belgian Refugee Minister Sammy Mahdi and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki proposed to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens, but the European Commission ruled out such a possibility. In the Russian representation of the European Union, RBC said that the issue of a ban on issuing visas to Russians in the EU is not being discussed.
Latvia stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens after the start of a special operation in Ukraine. Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia did the same. On July 25, a similar initiative was supported by the main parliamentary parties in Finland, including the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP), the Coalition Party, the True Finns party; and “Finland Center”, however, according to their idea, the measure should only apply to tourist visas.
The day before, the State Security Service (SSS) of Latvia said that its employees are more carefully checking the citizens of Russia and Belarus to make sure they do not threaten the country's national security. “The purpose of the inspections is to identify those who support Russian military aggression against Ukraine,” — officials said. More carefully than others, border guards began to check foreigners who served in the power structures of the two countries and those who “publicly demonstrate symbols praising” actions of Russian troops in Ukraine.
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In addition, the Latvian authorities demanded that the Russians confirm in writing that they condemned the special operation and sign the corresponding document. This was told to RBC by the president of the All-Russian Union of Insurers Igor Yurgens. LSM cited a similar story from the words of a Latvian citizen named Svetlana. Woman's husband— a Russian citizen with a residence permit in Latvia— forced to sign a document when returning to the country from the funeral of his mother.
The Russian Foreign Ministry did not rule out that the EU countries could completely stop issuing Schengen visas to Russians, although now it seems “incredible”.
July 18, RBC wrote that in the visa centers of France, Greece and Spain in July, the free windows for making an appointment for filing documents ended. Chairman of the Board of Directors of the travel company “Vip Service” Dmitry Gorin linked this to the lifting of anti-COVID restrictions by individual European countries and Russia itself, including on border crossings. In addition, some Russians have decided to extend expired five-year tourist visas issued in 2016-2017, he said.