Finland drastically reduces tourist visas for Russians


HELSINKI (AP) — Finland on Thursday reduced the number of visas issued to Russian citizens to a tenth of the normal amount in a move seen as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

Finland, which shares the longest border with Russia of any European Union member country, announced the decision in August amid growing pressure from politicians and ordinary citizens to restrict the movement of Russian tourists across the country. Nordic country as Moscow continues its war in Ukraine.

“It is important that we show that at the same time that Ukrainians are suffering, normal tourism should not continue as usual,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Wednesday during the EU meeting on the Foreign Affairs in Prague, the Czech capital.

From September 1, Finland will only allow Russians to apply for a tourist visa once a week and in only four Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk and Petrozavodsk near the Finnish border.

Haavisto said he was particularly concerned about a kind of Russian « tourist route » through Helsinki airport, which was used by thousands of Russians before Moscow’s Feb. 24 attack on Russia.

In addition to its decision on visas, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said the government is currently considering the possibility of helping Russian human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists critical of the Kremlin. by establishing a new type of humanitarian visa allowing them access to the Nordic country. .

At this week’s meeting in Prague, EU foreign ministers agreed to tighten travel rules for Russians within the 27-member bloc, but found no consensus to ban tourist visas on a large scale, which has been requested by Poland and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Finland shares a 1,340 kilometer (830 mile) border with Russia and the country has consistently ranked as one of the most popular Western travel destinations or stopovers for Russian tourists.

The Associated Press


Back to top button