Russia is interested in welcoming tourists from all over the world, even from “unfriendly nations,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call on Friday.
- Peskov was asked to clarify President Vladimir Putin’s comments on Wednesday that Moscow would not be introducing any visa restrictions on foreign citizens in retaliation for similar measures imposed by the EU.
- “The main point that the president was trying to get across was that we will continue to do what suits our interests,” the spokesperson explained, adding that introducing mirror countermeasures against the West is not always in Russia’s interests.
“Of course, illegal, criminal and raider attitudes towards our businesses will be met with reciprocal steps, but these measures will be reasonable and carefully calculated,” Peskov said, noting that Russia welcomes those who are willing to invest in the country.
He added that Russia remains just as inviting to foreign tourists, including those from countries that Moscow considers “unfriendly.”
“After all, people need to see our country and they need to understand that what they are shown and told about Russia in their home countries is a lie,” the Kremlin spokesperson stated, noting that the only way to explain this to people is by inviting them to Russia to see the country for themselves.
- Nevertheless, Peskov warned that any “inappropriate behavior” towards Russian diplomats or representatives of Russian foreign delegations would be met with mirror responses in accordance with the reciprocal rule of diplomacy.
The Kremlin’s comments come as the European Council officially announced on Friday that it would be scrapping the so-called Visa Facilitation Deal between Russia and the EU, citing Moscow’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine. The agreement had simplified visa application procedures for Russian citizens.
- Starting Monday, however, Russians will have to pay visa application fees of €80, instead of the previous €35, and will have to provide significantly more documentation, endure longer processing times and be subject to much stricter rules for the issuance of multiple-entry visas.
Meanwhile, countries such as Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have announced they would be closing their borders to all Russian tourists, even those with a valid Schengen visa.
- The only exceptions will be made for those traveling to see relatives or for humanitarian reasons.