September 30, 2022

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EU countries are closing their doors to Russian tourists

Russian tourists
Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin (right) promotes a ban on Russian tourists from Estonia. Getty Images

The order came nearly six months after the invasion of Ukraine began Vladimir PutinSome countries of the European Union (EU) are starting to close their doors to Russian tourists.

The governments of Estonia and Finland are seeking to close Russian tourists’ access to the free transit Schengen zone, which includes 22 EU members and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

“It is not true that Russian citizens can travel, enter the European Schengen zone, and be tourists., see landscapes, while Russia kills people in Ukraine. That’s wrong,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told a press conference in Oslo on Tuesday.

His position was confirmed by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who wrote on Twitter: “Moving to Europe is a privilege, not a human right.” He then added: “Now is the time to stop tourism from Russia”.

After the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union imposed a ban on flights to and from Russia.

However, land borders remain open, so many Russians travel by land with Finland and Estonia, the two EU countries with which Russia shares land borders, and take flights from there to other Schengen destinations.

Last week, Finnish public broadcaster YLE announced it There are Russian companies that offer ground transfers from St. PetersburgRussia’s second largest city, to Helsinki and Lapland airports in Finland, from where they can fly to many European destinations.

Russian tourists
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted, “Going to Europe is a privilege, not a human right.” Getty Images

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Some EU countries, such as Latvia, have begun to stop issuing visas to Russian tourists because of the war, but these measures are ineffective unless a decision is made that affects all members of the Schengen area.

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Russian tourists
Spain is one of the favorite destinations of Russian tourists. Getty Images

According to the rules of this free transit zone, a tourist has to apply for a visa of the country he wants to visit, but as soon as he gets it You can enter the Schengen zone through any member country and travel freely for 90 days in 180 days.

Spain, Italy and Greece are the three countries that issue the most tourist visas to Russian citizens.

For the past month, Finland and Estonia have called for a joint approach within the EU to close what they see as a “loophole” in sanctions on Russia that would allow its citizens to travel by land, while banning them from flying or traveling. By train to the EU.

In the case of Finland, which stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it started issuing them again last July, albeit in much smaller quantities than before.

However, the government already Russia announced plans to reduce the number of appointments for visa applications from 1,000 to 500 per day.Out of which only 100 will be levied on tourists.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Marin has said that the European Union should discuss the issue of visas for Russian citizens.

As YLE reports, this is expected to happen during the European Foreign Ministers’ Summit on August 31.

“In future meetings of the Council of Europe, I think this topic will come up even stronger. My personal position is that tourism should be regulated,” Marin told YLE.

Protests in Moscow and Germany

Calls to ban Russian tourism have created outrage in Russia, and not just in the Kremlin.

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On social networks, some opposition figures have questioned the idea, saying it feeds the government’s anti-Western propaganda and that it will not facilitate a solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the attempt, pointing out that Over time “common sense will emerge and those who made those statements will come to their senses”.

The proposal also met with strong opposition from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opposes ban on Russian tourists Getty Images

“This is not a war of the Russian people. This is Putin’s war, and we must be very clear on this point.The president said Tuesday during a press conference in Oslo.

“It is important that we understand that many people are leaving Russia because they do not agree with the Russian regime,” he added.

But proponents of the ban are not oblivious to these nuances, as the Finnish prime minister himself pointed out.

“It’s not a question of black and white, there are different shades of gray. There are many people in Russia who are against the war and they are under threat…” he added.

To overcome this dilemma, Finland is considering creating a Humanitarian visa It may be issued to Russian citizens who must leave the country or travel to Europe to participate in activities related to lobbying or journalistic work.

However, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed a much clearer position in an interview with The Washington Post last Monday. His position? All Western countries should close their doors to Russian tourists.

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