The European Union should stop issuing visas to Russian citizens, including students, workers and even tourists, Belgian Asylum and Migration Minister Sammy Mahdi said. This measure should be a response to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
“Russia’s reckless attack forces us to be careful of Russians wishing to come to Belgium,” Mahdi was quoted as saying by Reuters. He specified that the ban should apply to both short-term and long-term stays.
“At the moment, Russians are not welcome here, a general visa ban for Russians should not be taboo,” the official added.
The Czech Republic has already announced that it plans to tighten the procedure for issuing visas to Russian citizens amid the crisis around Ukraine. This was announced by the First Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister of the Republic Vit Rakusan. He stated, in particular, that the Czech Republic would urge its European colleagues to ensure that Russians could use only biometric passports when traveling to the Schengen zone.
“This is necessary so that we have confidence that those who come to us are in fact those who have been issued such passports,” he said. Rakushan also announced a desire to introduce humanitarian visas for Russians persecuted in their homeland – oppositionists and activists.
Prime Minister Petr Fial said that the Czech Republic has suspended the issuance of visas to Russian citizens. He noted that visas will not be issued in all Czech embassies except for humanitarian cases. The Czech Republic also decided to close the Russian consulates in Karlovy Vary and Brno, and the activities of the Czech Consulates General in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg will be temporarily suspended.
Polish President Andriy Duda spoke about a tourist blockade for Russians in the event of an aggravation of the situation in eastern Ukraine. Rihards Kols, a member of the Latvian Seimas, proposed to stop issuing tourist visas.
Latvia stops issuing visas to Russian citizens, and also recalls the ambassador from the Russian Federation for consultations, said the country’s Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevich.
The European Union has not yet commented on the issue of a ban on visas for Russians to the union, they noted that “all measures will be discussed at the summit on Thursday”, it will be held in the evening. An emergency EU summit will be held in Brussels.