Latvia has suspended the issuance of visas to Russian citizens. This was reported on Thursday, August 4, at the Latvian Embassy in the Russian Federation and in the Latvian visa application center. “Embassy Latvia in Russia the acceptance of applications for visas for citizens of the Russian Federation has been suspended for an indefinite period,” the diplomatic mission said on Twitter.
The embassy’s website specified that the decision was made “in connection with the international situation.” The only exception is the need to attend the funeral of a close relative, the diplomatic missions said on Twitter.
Over 1,100 visas have been granted since the start of the war
As the Delfi portal recalled, after the outbreak of the Russian war in Ukraine, Latvia stopped issuing tourist visas to Russians, but left the opportunity to receive short-term visas for humanitarian reasons and long-term national visas with the right to work.
According to the portal, by the beginning of August, visas had been issued to 247 employees of Russian independent media and 206 members of their families.
From February 25 to July 26, 654 visas were also granted in Latvian representations – in connection with the illness or funeral of a relative, as well as – to family members of Latvian and EU citizens. Thus, during the indicated period, 1107 visas were issued to Russian citizens in the representations of Latvia.
The State Security Service of Latvia warned about the risks
Meanwhile, as reported by the national service of radio and television LRT, the State Security Service (SSS) of Latvia issued a warning about the risk to national security emanating, including from independent Russian media and individual journalists who have found refuge in Latvia.
According to the State Security Service, the entry of any person from Russia and Belarus is associated with risks, regardless of their professional affiliation. The service pointed out that the activities of Russian independent media directed against the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin would force the Russian authorities to pay increased attention to Latvia, which could increase the intensity of the intelligence and information activities of the Russian Federation directed against Riga.
The State Security Service, in cooperation with the State Border Guard, the State Police, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, as well as other services, conducts enhanced control of those entering Latvia from Russia and Belarus, as well as takes other measures to reduce the identified national security risks, the agency said.
Over 20 independent media
At a meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on International Affairs on August 2, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zanda Kalnina-Lukashevica confirmed the issuance of 247 visas to Russian independent media workers. Visas were received, in particular, by representatives of the international media – BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Current Time, as well as a number of other publications – such as Meduza, Novaya Gazeta. Europe and “Rain”. In general, we are talking about 23 independent media.
Estonia stopped granting Russians a temporary residence permit
Earlier, on July 28, the Estonian government approved a decree that prohibits the provision of Russian citizens temporary residence permit or visas for the purpose of studying in that country. In addition, citizens of Russia and Belarus will be able to obtain a short-term work permit only if the visa issued by Estonia is valid.
In the case of a residence permit granted by another EU member state, it will also be impossible for citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus to legally get a short-term job, and therefore their application for a long-term visa for the purpose of short-term employment is excluded.
EC: Visa decisions must be made “on a case-by-case basis”
Finland’s largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on July 28 published clarifications from the European Commission (EC), where emphasizedthat EU rules do not allow a complete cessation of issuing visas to Russian citizens. The EC indicated that the consideration of applications for short-term Schengen visas is the prerogative of the member states of the community, which must make a decision on each document “individually.”