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Citizens' initiative on visa ban for Russians heads to Finnish Parliament

The initiative passed the 50,000-signature threshold on Wednesday and will move to Parliament to be debated by MPs.

Effectively, the targets of the initiative are Russian nationals, as it specifically noted the Baltic countries' (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) recently-implemented bans on issuing visas to Russian citizens. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

A citizens' initiative calling for a ban on issuing visas to citizens from countries that are waging wars of aggression will advance to Finnish Parliament for consideration.

The initiative, which was launched at the end of July, garnered the necessary support of 50,000 people on Wednesday.

In addition to the ban on visa issuance, the initiative also calls for the cancellation of visas already issued to citizens from countries waging wars of aggression.

Humanitarian or comparable reasons should be the only exception to such a ban, according to the initiative's authors.

Effectively, the targets of the initiative are Russian nationals, as it specifically noted the Baltic countries' (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) recently-implemented bans on issuing visas to Russian citizens.

The idea of restricting visas for Russians has gained attention from Finnish leaders.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Green) said last week that Finland was urgently seeking a solution to restrict the issuing of tourist visas to Russian citizens.

On Friday, after meeting with the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy (Utva), President Sauli Niinistö said an agreement was reached to significantly reduce the entry of Russians to the country by limiting visa issuance.

"As far as I understand, this 'significantly reduce' means that all those who do not have a special reason, such as a family reason, would be rejected," Niinistö said at the time.

Meanwhile, Minister Haavisto has said that restrictions on issuing visas to Russians could be implemented as soon as this week.

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