Tallinn, Aug 18 (VOICE) Estonia’s tightened restrictions for Russian nationals wishing to enter the Baltic country came into force on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the government had announced it would stop issuing Estonian visas to Russian citizens and would bar entry to Russian citizens holding Estonian-issued tourism, business, sports or culture visas, reports dpa news agency.
However, Russian nationals with a visa issued by one of the other Schengen countries or who are already in the Schengen area will still be able to enter Estonia.
The Schengen area includes most European Union countries and facilitates free movement in the bloc.
Estonia will also continue to issue visas in certain cases including for Russian diplomats and their families and Russians visiting a close relative who is an Estonian citizen or long-term resident.
Additional visa checks will be carried out at the three border crossings between Russian and Estonia: Narva, Luhamaa and Koidula, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said.
Estonia has been campaigning with Latvia and Finland, both of which also have borders with Russia, for a EU-wide ban on tourist visas for Russians in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but the European Commission and Germany are so far against the proposal.
The Czech Republic, which holds the presidency of the EU and is also limiting Russian visas, plans to raise the issue at a meeting of the bloc’s Foreign Ministers at the end of August.
Around 2,500 Russian citizens cross the border into Estonia every day, almost half of them on tourist visas, according to Estonian border and police authorities.
The number of these visas issued by Estonia and other Schengen states are roughly equal.