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EU raises new hurdles for Russian visa applicants

Brussels, Belgium Sep 6 – The European Commission on Tuesday outlined new obstacles facing Russian travelers seeking entry visas to the EU, in the latest punitive measures taken in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ministers from EU member states agreed last week to suspend the 2007 EU-Russia visa facilitation deal, stopping short of an outright travel ban but asking Brussels to draw up new rules .

On Tuesday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson revealed the proposed new regime, which is expected to gain swift approval from member state capitals in the coming days.

Russians applying for visas to enter the Schengen travel zone – 22 EU member states plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – will now pay a fee of €85 instead of €35.

The standard processing time for such a request will be extended by 10-15 days, and in some cases the review will continue for up to 45 days. Multiple entry visas will be limited.

And applicants will now have to provide a longer list of supporting documents to support their bids.

The European Commission will also propose to EU countries to refuse to recognize Russian passports issued in occupied regions of Ukraine that Moscow is trying to annex.

“Russians shouldn’t have easy access to the European Union and traveling to the EU as a tourist is not a human right,” Johansson said, promising better security screening.

“Russia continues to violate international law with its illegal military actions, committing atrocities against Ukrainians and undermining European and global security and stability,” she said.

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“Today’s proposal shows a strong and united response from the EU. We will soon follow up on additional guidelines to ensure enhanced screening of visa applications and border crossings by Russian citizens.

Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that the EU decision would make life harder for Russian travelers and denounced: “Another ridiculous decision in an ongoing series of nonsense”.

Some EU countries bordering Russia – Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have started tightening border controls and had called for an outright visa ban.

But France and Germany argued that continued contact between private Russian citizens and democratic societies would remain valuable, and EU ministers decided to suspend visa facilitation as a compromise.