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Finland further tightens restrictions on Russian tourist visas

From September, Finland will only accept about 100 applications per day for tourist visas from Russian citizens, and only on Mondays.

Finland does not want to become a transit country for Russians to travel to the rest of Europe, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) said. Image: Mauri Ratilainen / EPA
Yle News

Finnish authorities are preparing to further tighten the rules around how Russian citizens can apply for tourist visas.

From September, Finland will only accept around 100 tourist visa applications from Russian citizens, only on Mondays, and only in four cities: St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk and Moscow.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told Yle's current affairs programme A-Studio on Monday evening that the decision was made because Finland does not want to become a transit country by which Russian citizens can gain access to the rest of Europe.

"We have become resentful of the idea of Finland becoming a transit country when air links from St Petersburg and Moscow to the West are not operating," Haavisto said.

"They arrive at Helsinki airport and leave immediately for a holiday elsewhere. That is not the role Finland wants," he added.

Haavisto will attend an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague on Tuesday and Wednesday. The ministers are expected to discuss the short-term and long-term effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including issues relating to the EU’s common policy on visas.

Finland has called on the EU to tighten up its tourist visa policy.

"Finland's line is that the visa facilitation agreement should be completely suspended and that Schengen visas should at least be subject to the restriction that Finland has imposed, meaning that [the numbers] should be reduced to 10 percent," Haavisto said.

If the number of tourist visas granted to Russian citizens were to be suspended, or significantly curtailed, the price of visas would likely increase and processing times lengthen. Haavisto told A-Studio he believes that EU countries are ready to reach a consensus on this decision, adding that such a move would be symbolically significant.

"We have no reason to promote Russian tourism in Europe right now," he said.

Although the issue will be discussed at the informal meeting of foreign ministers, Haavisto noted that he does not believe every EU member state is ready to make a final decision just yet.

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