Severing diplomatic relations with Latvia and Estonia will be a last resort in response to the decision of the two Baltic republics to ban the issuance of visas to Russians, but it cannot be ruled out. Grigory Karasin, head of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, told Izvestia about this. Denying Russians entry to these Baltic countries was not the only unfriendly measure. On August 11, the Latvian Seimas declared Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”. The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the republic announced his intention deny residence permits to Latvians who have the status of non-citizens in the country if they acquire Russian citizenship. By the way, there are about 120,000 “non-citizens” in Latvia with a population of 2 million.
ban on ban
11th August The Saeima of Latvia declared Russia a “country-sponsor of terrorism”. On August 1 in Riga they promised to consider this issue at the state level. Now this decision was sanctioned by all Latvian parliament.
Meanwhile, The Latvian parliamentarians did not limit themselves to labeling and on the same day called on the EU countries to immediately suspend the issuance of visas to Russians and Belarusians. Latvia itself has long gone down this path. Since February 25, the country has limited the issuance of Schengen visas for Russians to purely humanitarian cases, such as visiting close relatives. It also left the right of entry for opposition journalists who left Russia. Since August 5, however, the Latvian authorities have announced that they are suspending the issuance of visas for Russians in all cases, except for the need to come to the country for a funeral.
At the same time, they announced this not quite in a diplomatic manner – through Twitter. And as Izvestia was told earlier at the Russian Embassy in Latvia, no official notifications on this matter were received from the Latvian side to the embassy – the diplomatic mission learned about this ban from the media.
But the most notable was the blow that Riga decided to inflict on a rather impressive part of its own inhabitants. Reacting to the announced plans of the Russian State Duma to consider the issue of simplifying the acquisition of Russian citizenship by compatriots from the Baltic states who are there in the status of “non-citizens”, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevich said on August 11 that such people will no longer be issued residence permits, and after receiving a Russian passport they will have to leave the republic.
It should be noted that, according to official data, as of January 1, 2022, over 120,000 people were classified as non-citizens in the Baltic country with a population of less than 2 million, deprived of the right to hold certain positions by virtue of this status, as well as to participate in elections and referendums.
As the Latvian public figure Yanik Kuzins explained to Izvestia, in part, the decisions of the authorities in Riga can be considered an attempt to mobilize the nationalist-minded part of society on the eve of the parliamentary elections in October.
– Nevertheless, one must understand that the inhabitants of our country are now split into two camps. Yes, many people really support such a policy, but there is also a large part of the population, and I’m talking specifically about Latvians, who understand that this is complete discrimination, a violation of people’s rights. After all, now Russians are gradually beginning to be deprived of a residence permit, which they received by participating in various investment programs. And, in fact, only those who are married to a Latvian citizen can retain a residence permit, he said.
Being ahead of the rest in terms of punishing Moscow, Riga, alas, was not alone in this.
Just a couple of hours after the news from Latvia, in Tallinn announced the decision to close the borders for Russian citizens with Schengen visas issued by Estonia from August 18. According to the explanations, employees of diplomatic missions and members of their families, persons involved in international freight and passenger transportation, or, for example, Russians whose entry to Estonia is necessary for humanitarian reasons, as well as close relatives of persons who have Estonian citizenship or permanent residency there.
Nonetheless, those who will be affected by this innovation will be many times more. According to Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, it will affect 50,000 peoplefor which the republic had previously approved visas. To discuss how to ban the entry of Russians with any other, not just Estonian Schengen visas, Tallinn promised next week.
The answer will be tough
Breaking diplomatic relations with Latvia and Estonia will be a last resort in response to the decision of the two Baltic republics to ban the issuance of visas for Russians and other unfriendly actions, but it cannot be ruled out. About this, commenting on the latest actions of Estonia and Latvia, Izvestia was told by the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Grigory Karasin.
– It would be counterproductive to talk about some kind of mirror or semi-mirror, symmetrical response measures. You just need to call on people to common sense, order and the absence of political schizophrenia. Severing relations is an extreme measure, nothing can be ruled out, but I really would not want our neighbors to bring this to this, ”the senator said in a conversation with Izvestia.
However, Grigory Karasin suggested that the answer will be tough and probably varied as “things like that don’t get forgotten”.
The decisions of the official authorities of Latvia, especially regarding actions against their own residents, have long gone beyond common sense, State Duma deputy Abdulhakim Gadzhiev told Izvestia.
— Another attempt is being made to clean up the inhabitants of their own country, whom Riga artificially did not give the status of citizens for three decades contrary to international law and with the tacit consent of their Western puppeteers. It must be understood that from the refusal of residence permits to “non-citizens” to the creation of a ghetto for ethnic Russians, similar to the Jewish ghettos of fascist Germany, the Latvian authorities were only a step awaysaid the MP.
In the same vein, the head of the international public movement “Grandchildren” (unites citizens of the CIS countries) Tatyana Pop commented on the news. This is “the real segregation and the consolidation of the policy of racial discrimination at the legislative level”demonstrating that Nazism has raised its head not only in Ukraine, but has already reached the level of official ideology in the Baltics, she said.
News from Latvia did not go unanswered by the Russian Foreign Ministry. On Smolenskaya Square, it was noted that by declaring Russia a “country sponsor of terrorism”, Riga was guided by animal xenophobia and called the ideologists of such a decision neo-Nazis. The Foreign Ministry considered the calls of Latvia, Estonia and a number of other countries to stop issuing Schengen visas to Russians as “an open manifestation of chauvinism.”
Not everything is lost
Earlier in Brussels, it was emphasized more than once that visa policy is within the competence of national governments and the European Union has nothing to do with it.. However, on August 11, the European Commission acknowledged that EU countries are already in discussions to determine coordinated action on this issue.
Recall that the day before Latvia’s statement about the need to refuse Russian tourists in EU visas, the head of the Czech Foreign Ministry Jan Lipavsky, a country that, according to him, has not issued a single tourist visa to a Russian citizen since February 24, said. Similar ideas were voiced in Finland. Although there, rather, they talked about restrictions on the Schengen for Russians, rather than about its complete ban.
As Alexander Osaulenko, director of the Association “Association of tour operators in the field of outbound tourism” Turpomoshch “, emphasized in an interview with Izvestia, EU countries are not always unanimous in their decisions in various areas of economic activityan example of which is the agreement of some countries to pay for Russian gas in rubles, while others do not.
– And as they already said in Brussels, each country will make its own decision. To date, out of 27 EU states, only 10 have introduced restrictions or not issued visas to Russians, which included Estonia, and about 17 countries still issue visas in one form or another. Yes, the number of visas issued is limited, the processing time is maximum, and the duration of stay is minimum, but so far it exists. And in any case, it remains possible to fly through Istanbul or other points with the likely closure of the land border, the expert said.
Unlike the Baltic countries, where they continue to measure the severity of Russophobic actions, in the rest of the EU, the idea of a Schengen ban for Russians is being reservedly commented on. As German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on August 11, he can hardly imagine stopping the issuance of Schengen visas to Russians. Moreover, in his opinion, “if sanctions were directed against everyone, including the innocent, then this would weaken their effectiveness.”
The European Commission, to the question of “Izvestia” about the coordinated actions of the EU on the issue of visas to Russians, did not provide a prompt response.