Latvia plans to extend Russian travel restrictions

The government could extend the deadline for restrictions on Russian citizens' entry into Latvia until spring next year, given that the security threat posed by Russia continues, according the draft order prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, newswire LETA reported February 18.

At the informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the EU Council in Prague in August 2022, it was agreed that Member States can take measures at the national level to restrict entry into the EU.

Following this agreement, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland coordinated changes to national legislation to restrict the entry of Russian citizens who have long supported and continue to support the aggressive actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime and are co-responsible for Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Such restrictions were imposed in Latvia on September 9, 2022. According to the Cabinet of Ministers order, the issuance of visas to Russian citizens is also restricted. Since the date of adoption of the order in 2022 until December 31, 2023, 1,956 visas have been issued to Russian citizens at diplomatic and consular missions of Latvia abroad. Visa applications are accepted only in exceptional cases.

The MFA notes that the order is currently in force until March 4. The order imposes restrictions on entry for Russian citizens who wish to cross the EU's external border for tourism and entertainment purposes. Without extending the duration of the order, it would be possible to allow Russian citizens, who also pose a threat to Latvia's internal security, to enter and reside freely in the EU.

The draft order envisages extending the limit for one year - until March 4, 2025.

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