Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has urged the European Union to ban the issuance of tourist visas to Russians.
“I repeat the EU proposal to impose a tourist visa ban on Russian citizens,” Rinkevich said.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs previously did not rule out a scenario in which Russians would no longer be issued Schengen visas. At the same time, the department emphasized that Moscow should be prepared for any developments. In response, Rossotrudnichestvo noted that possible visa restrictions would be a “sad” step, as they would invalidate contacts to re-establish relations between Russia and the European Union.
Condemnation of the actions of the Russian Federation in exchange for entry
It became known that Russian citizens who had previously entered Latvia were required to sign a document condemning the military operation in Ukraine. As the lsm.lv portal writes with reference to the Latvian State Security Service, otherwise the Russians are not allowed to cross the border.
The publication emphasized that such a measure should be taken because of the dissatisfaction of the residents of Latvia with the presence of Russians in their country.
According to the portal, checks are carried out at the entrance to the country, which should identify people who support the military operation and who “could pose a threat to Latvia’s national security”.
“During inspections, special attention is paid to foreigners, for example, who once served in the power structures of Russia or Belarus,” the state security service said.
The portal stated that currently 62 foreigners, including 41 Russian citizens, 14 Belarusian citizens and seven other nationalities, are not allowed to enter Latvia. Valid Schengen visa for citizens who have been canceled at the border.
The publication also cites the story of a local resident: her husband, a Russian citizen, was forced to “sign a document condemning Russia’s actions” while crossing the Latvian border. According to him, the document was in Russian and English and had no identification marks on it, and an employee “in civilian clothes” threatened to “not return the documents and revoke his permanent residence permit” because he refused to sign it.
Due to the pressure of Riga on Russians entering the territory of the republic, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a note of protest, but the head of the Latvian foreign ministry noted that his country will continue to act in its own interests.
“It is pointless to protest what we do or don’t do on our national soil to protect our security and reduce risks,” Rinkevics said.
“Basic rule for closing the entrance”
Earlier, Estonia stopped issuing residence permits and visas for education to Russians and Belarusians. Prior to this, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu expressed his desire to propose to EU countries to close the entry of Russians. And while the country no longer issues visas to citizens of the Russian Federation, Tallinn sees a problem with them continuing to come with permits already issued.
“This mouse hole needs to be closed,” he said.
He urged other countries in the region to stop and “stop” issuing tourist visas. [россиян] beyond the border.” According to the head of the State Department, issuing such permits is normal in a normal situation, but “unthinkable in wartime.”
According to Reinsalu, he will meet with foreign ministers of other states in Prague at the end of August, where he will present a European-wide containment plan for Russians.
“A basic rule needs to be introduced on the closure of the entry of Russian citizens to Europe, Estonia will make this proposal,” said the minister.
In March, Riga suspended the issuance of tourist visas to Russian citizens. However, those who have relatives in Estonia and those who apply for a visa for “humanitarian reasons” or for medical purposes can still apply. At the end of July, Tallinn banned Russians from applying for temporary residence permits or visas for educational purposes.
Finland considers visa ban
Finland’s leading parliamentary parties also favored stopping the issuance of tourist visas to Russians.
Antti Lindtman, head of the Social Democratic Party, said there is “sufficient reason for the government to consider immediately stopping the issuance of visas to Russian tourists.” The National Coalition Party stated that the visa ban on Russians “does not apply to medical treatment, persons who own real estate in Finland, or visiting close relatives.”
At the same time, Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister of European Affairs and Property Management, said that Finland does not intend to restrict the issuance of Schengen visas to Russians, as this issue should be resolved at EU level.
In response to possible restrictions, the Kremlin said Moscow would react extremely negatively and take action.
“As far as we understand, this solution has not found any application in the plan implemented so far, let’s hope not,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the President of the Russian Federation.
Maria Zakharova, the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, emphasized that the restriction of the travels of Russians for political reasons would be another step in the relations between the two countries to intensify the conflict. He also said that Finnish politicians are trying to “punish” Russia and its citizens more strongly.
The European Commission has previously pointed out that EU rules do not fully allow visas to be granted to citizens of a particular country, i.e. permits for humanitarian reasons, family members of an EU country citizen, journalists and those leaving for political reasons. They also stressed that the sanctions are primarily aimed at the Russian government and elite, not ordinary citizens.
At the same time, the EU decided to partially suspend the simplified visa regime with Russia.