Russians scared about Estonian visa cancellation
As of this week, Estonia, the first country in the European Union to do so, will stop allowing more than 50,000 Russian citizens with previously issued visas to enter the country. This will make it significantly more difficult for ordinary Russians to enter the EU.
Anna is concerned, much like the hundreds of other Russians who cross the border into Estonia each day at the town of Narva, that she will no longer be able to continue coming to Estonia to pay her respects at the graves of her relatives.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the governments will figure out a solution. Perhaps they can find common ground on anything. I try to stay out of politics, but being as how some of my family members are interred here, I would like to continue coming.”
“But what options do you have? For us, average people, there is no way out of this predicament. This needs to be negotiated, and I hope that eventually our nations can come to an understanding and find a solution that satisfies everyone.”
This ban comes just four days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a fresh call for EU states to ban visas for Russian nationals. Zelenskyy’s goal was to prevent the EU from turning into a “supermarket” where anyone with the means to enter could do so.
According to Zelenskyy, his plan does not apply to Russians who are in need of assistance because they are putting their freedom or their lives in danger by opposing the policies of Vladimir Putin, who is the leader of the Kremlin.
As a result of the closure of European airspace to Russians, a significant number of Russians have been making their way through the bordering countries of the Baltic and Finland in order to fly to other areas of Europe on Schengen visas. The permits allow for 90 days of travel within the border-free Schengen Area, which consists of 26 countries.
“We will sanction all the Schengen visas that are valid currently except for some humanitarian and family related cases,” Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu told Reuters. He added that the government was considering closing the Estonian-Russian border completely to all Russians. “We will sanction all the Schengen visas that are valid currently,” he said.
According to a spokesperson for the Estonian government, Estonia is the first country in the EU to prohibit travel on visas that have already been issued. Every day, over 2,500 people from Russia enter Estonia, with roughly half of them having Schengen visas.
Of addition, approximately nine percent of the population in Estonia are not native-born Estonians; the majority of these people are Russian.
Reinsalu stated that traveling to Europe was not a fundamental human right, and that Russian taxpayers who traveled to Europe were indirectly subsidizing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
“We must admit that Russian society, in general, also bears passive moral responsibility for these atrocities, which are taking place on Ukrainian soil,” he said. “These atrocities are taking place on Ukrainian soil.”
“The legal responsibility for the massacre lies with Putin, his inner circle, and those responsible for carrying it out. But there is no denying that the moral obligation also rests with this state and the people who live in it, “Reinsalu remarked.
As a result of the rising number of Russian tourists traveling to Europe, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto announced on Tuesday that the country will reduce the number of visas granted to Russian citizens to 10% of the existing level beginning September 1.
After Russia lifted pandemic-related border restrictions a month ago, an influx of Russian tourists began using Finland and its Helsinki-Vantaa Airport as a gateway towards European holiday destinations. According to Haavisto, the decision came as a result of this influx of Russian tourists.
Some EU leaders, such as the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, and her counterpart in Estonia, Kaja Kallas, have called for an EU-wide visa ban. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opposed this idea on Monday, stating that Russians should be able to flee their home country if they disagree with the regime there. Sanna Marin and Kaja Kallas represent Finland and Estonia, respectively.
Scholz stated earlier this week that “all of the decisions we take should not make it more complicated to leave the nation, for getting away from the leadership and the regime in Russia,” and he was referring to the current situation in Russia.