Interview: Russia Preparing Visa-Free Agreements With Several Countries – Yevgeny Ivanov

Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Yevgeny Ivanov, in a special interview with TASS, named the countries with which Russia plans to conclude agreements on visa-free travel and explained how a foreigner can now get a Russian visa.  

Picture: Russian Gazette

Against the background of artificially inflated Russophobic hysteria, which was launched immediately after the start of the special operation in Ukraine, we continue to record egregious cases of violations of international law by foreign states, including in the field of ensuring the security of Russian diplomatic missions and consular institutions, the diplomat reports.

According to him, contrary to their obligations, many countries representing the so-called collective West allow not only provocations, but also violent actions against Russian foreign institutions and their personnel.

“The buildings of our embassies and consulates were repeatedly set on fire, Molotov cocktails and other dangerous objects were thrown into their territory, window panes were broken in schools, offices, and residential buildings. There are cases of direct aggression against our employees and their family members, attempts to arrange an accident with their participation, causing intentional damage to cars,” he notes.

Ivanov continued, adding that psychological pressure is also growing, with an unprecedented number of anonymous threats to diplomats by phone and e-mail, with parcels with unknown contents inside and threatening inscriptions.

The diplomat also noted that the USA, Canada, and some European countries create obstacles for Russian foreign institutions in accessing bank accounts, impose restrictions on property insurance, push local companies to break contracts for medical care and use of other services, which also hinders the adequate functioning of diplomatic missions.

Response actions of the Russian Foreign Ministry

In turn, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation understands the scale of the problems caused by its “partners” in the field of ensuring the security of the country’s foreign institutions, especially in unfriendly countries. Ivanov assured that all possible measures are being taken within the framework of international law and Russian legislation to resolve the difficulties that have arisen, and the issue of strengthening the protection of diplomats abroad is “under the control of the country’s top leadership.”

In addition, the diplomat noted that the authorities of a number of unfriendly states refuse to invite Russian diplomats to protocol events organized for a foreign diplomatic corps. Moreover, we are talking not only about celebrations to commemorate national holidays and memorable dates, but also about the events of a joint historical community, in particular, related to the Victory over Nazism in World War II.

“I must say, this fits into the flawed logic of the distortion of historical truth by some countries. It’s no secret that the states of the unfriendly bloc regularly vote against or try to block the adoption of resolutions introduced by Russia to combat the glorification of Nazism within the UN. Thus, if before the start of the special military operation, such initiatives of the Russian side did not find support only among representatives of the USA and Ukraine, now the vast majority of EU member states, including Germany, France, Italy, as well as Japan, have joined them,” he notes.

The official continued, saying that “detractors without any hesitation put pressure on the diplomatic corps,” forcing representatives of those states that prefer to generally take a balanced position to refrain from attending protocol events at Russian embassies.

Simplification of the visa regime

Ivanov clarified that at the moment, citizens of more than 60 foreign countries can enter the territory of the Russian Federation on a visa-free regime using general civil passports.

Currently, work is underway to draft visa-free agreements with Mexico and Malaysia, as well as with some Caribbean island States (the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, the Republic of Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia). Relevant agreements are also being worked out with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Zambia. In addition, the issue of increasing the period of visa-free stay from 14 to 30 days is discussed with the SAR Hong Kong.

“At the same time, I would like to draw attention to the fact that, as a rule, we conclude agreements with foreign countries on visa-free short-term trips for any purpose: tourist, business, educational, sports, scientific, religious, and so on — provided that the period of continuous stay of a foreign citizen on the territory of the Russian Federation does not exceed 90 days. Separate agreements on visa-free group trips of tourists are valid only with China and Iran,” Ivanov said.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as the FSB are working on the issue of establishing a visa-free regime for foreign citizens to travel to Russia for tourist, business, educational purposes, as well as to participate in sports and cultural events. A report on this issue will be submitted to the President by June 1, 2023.

The official noted that the issue of obtaining a visa to Russia for foreigners is not a difficult obstacle on their way to the country now. He noted that to date, single-entry tourist visas are issued within a period of no more than 7 calendar days, if necessary, 3 or even 1 working day can be enough.

The set of documents for obtaining a tourist visa includes a passport, a visa application form, a photo, and a confirmation of the admission of a foreign tourist, which is a guarantee that the foreigner will receive the services paid for by him. Medical insurance is requested only on the basis of reciprocity. The share of refusals to issue Russian visas does not exceed a tenth of a per cent, Ivanov noted.

Russians’ trips abroad

The diplomat noted that, unlike Russia, Western countries are tightening the conditions of entry for Russian tourists up to the complete termination of the issuance of Schengen visas to them. Thus, Russian citizens are prohibited from entering Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia for tourist purposes.

He also noted that although some EU countries do not formally refuse to issue visas to Russians, they put forward obviously impossible conditions, in particular, they require payment of visa fees through Western banks or presentation of a medical insurance policy of a foreign insurer, which is extremely problematic in the face of unprecedented Western sanctions. In addition, the processing of multiple-entry visas for Russians has been minimized.

“In these conditions, we continue to work on simplifying visa formalities […] On December 5, 2022, a federal law was adopted […] that established the possibility of issuing multiple tourist visas for up to six months in a simplified manner on the basis of just a confirmation of a hotel reservation. Such visas will be issued to citizens of foreign states who are included in the list approved by the Government of the Russian Federation. When preparing, the Russian Foreign Ministry intends to include countries that do not pose a migration threat to the Russian Federation,” the official said, adding that this law will come into force on March 6, 2023.

Ru-Main, 16.01.2023
Source: TASS

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