The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on the existing visa policy and prospects for its changes

The Foreign Ministry told why it is impossible to introduce visas on arrival in Russia and about the prospects of a visa-free regime for the Russian Federation

МИД РФ о существующей визовой политике и перспективах ее изменений

Head of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Alexey Klimov gave a long interview to RIA Novosti, in which he spoke about the existing visa policy and prospects for its changes.Most of the conversation was devoted to the prospects of introducing visas on arrival for foreign tourists. At the moment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers this impossible. There are three main reasons. Firstly, to do this, full-fledged round-the-clock consular posts will have to be opened at airports. And this is very large–scale and expensive – additional staff and budget will be required for the maintenance of such points. In early June, during the SPIEF, Aeroflot CEO Sergey Alexandrovsky announced his intention to abandon plans to purchase the Sj 100 and Tu-214 and replace them with the MS-21. The message stirred up the community and sparked heated discussions about the true reasons for such a reversal. The second obstacle is the formalities that must be observed when entering the country, related to filling out documents. The official believes that because of this, queues will arise, which will create additional inconveniences for tourists.The third reason is the inability to check foreigners in advance for a ban on entry into the Russian Federation. This will lead to failures right at the border. Here, the agency is already worried about the costs of carriers, who in such cases will be forced to return tourists at their own expense to their homeland. And about the image – if many people are deployed at the entrance, then the flow of people wishing to visit Russia will decrease. Alexey Klimov also spoke about the prospects of expanding the visa-free regime. Currently, Russia has a simplified regime with 65 countries, and negotiations are underway with 9 more states. Moreover, in each case, these are mutual conditions for citizens of both countries. The Ministry will not introduce a unilateral visa-free regime for travel to the Russian Federation, as it considers it unfair to compatriots. In addition, this approach does not in any way encourage foreign partners to meet the Russian side halfway.The de jure unilateral visa-free regime is not allowed by the moratorium of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, which has been in force since 2016.The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also spoke about the dynamics of issuing multiple-entry tourist visas to foreigners. They were introduced in 2021, and since then their share in the total number of issued entry documents has only been decreasing – by half over the past year. In this trend, the official, judging by the interview, sees only the fault of tour operators – they allegedly do not want to take responsibility for finding a client in the country after the end of the tour and want to receive additional income for visa support every time they travel to the Russian Federation. Klimov also named the top reasons that, according to the department, prevent foreign tourists from traveling to Russia. These are high ticket prices, logistical difficulties and the inability to pay with your bank card inside the country. 

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