September 28, 2022

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EU countries are closing their doors to Russian tourists

Finland’s Prime Ministers Sanna Marin (right) and Estonia’s Kaja Kallas (left) are imposing a ban on Russian tourists.

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

Nearly six months after the start of the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, some European Union (EU) countries have begun closing their doors to Russian citizens.

The Estonian and Finnish governments are seeking to block Russian tourists from accessing the Schengen area of ​​free movement, which includes 22 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

“It’s not right for Russian citizens to travel, to enter the European Schengen area, to be tourists, to see landscapes, for Russia to kill people in Ukraine. It’s wrong,” First said Tuesday. – Finnish Minister Sanna Marin at a press conference in the Norwegian capital Oslo.

His position was reinforced by the Estonian Prime Minister who wrote on Twitter:

“Going to Europe is a privilege, not a human right.”

Also added:

“Now is the time to end tourism in Russia.”

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

But land borders remained open, so many Russians traveled by land to Finland and Estonia, the two EU countries that border Russia, and from there took flights to other destinations in the Schengen area.

Finnish public broadcaster YLE announced last week that Russian companies are offering ground transfers from St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, to airports in Helsinki and Finland’s Lapland, from where they can fly to various European destinations.

“Going to Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” Kaja Kallas tweeted.

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

Restrictions on movement

Some EU countries, such as Latvia, have begun suspending visas to Russian tourists because of the war, but these measures are ineffective without a decision affecting all members of the Schengen area.

Spain is one of the favorite destinations of Russian tourists.

Spain is one of the favorite destinations of Russian tourists.

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

According to the rules of this free movement zone, tourists have to apply for a visa from the country they want to visit, but when they get it, they can enter the Schengen area through any member state and travel freely for 90 days. Duration is 180 days.

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

Last month, Finland and Estonia called for a joint resolution of the issue within the EU, allowing its citizens to travel by land under a ban to close what they see as a “loophole” in sanctions on Russia. to the European Union.

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 at a much lower amount than previously issued.

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

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the issue of visas for Russian citizens should be discussed by the European Union.

As reported by broadcaster YLE, this should take place on August 31 during the summit of European foreign ministers.

“In future meetings of the Council of Europe, I think this theme will come out 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 sparked outrage not only in the Kremlin, but in Russia as well.

On social media, some opposition figures questioned the idea, saying it fueled the government’s anti-Western propaganda — and would not help resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the move, saying that over time “common sense will emerge and those who made such statements will come to their senses.”

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

German Chancellor Olaf Schalz has opposed the ban on Russian tourists

German Chancellor Olaf Schalz has opposed the ban on Russian tourists

Photo: Getty Images / BBC News Brazil

“This is not the Russian people’s war. This is Putin’s war, and we must be very clear on this issue,” Scholz said during an interview with reporters in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Tuesday.

“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.

“This is not a black and white issue, there are different shades of gray. There are many people in Russia who are against the war, who are under threat…”, he said.

To solve this dilemma, Finland is considering creating a humanitarian visa for Russian citizens who need to leave the country or travel to Europe to participate in activities related to pressure groups or journalistic work.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, has a very clear position on this issue, as he revealed in an interview with the American newspaper The Washington Post last Monday.

Your opinion? All Western countries should close their doors to Russian tourists.

This text has been published First of all M

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