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Volodymyr Zelensky calls on Western countries to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens

“Russians have to live in their own world as long as they don’t change their philosophy.” While Russia prepare a referendum in the Ukrainian province of ZaporizhialUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for banishment of Russian citizens in interview au Washington Post (in English), Monday August 8, in order to prevent Russia from further annexing Ukrainian territory. The leader calls on Western countries to no longer issue visas to these nationals, especially tourists.

According to him, this sanction should also concern Russians who left their country for political reasons: “The people chose this government and they are not fighting it” today, he says. The Kremlin strongly condemned Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks. “The irrationality of his thought surpasses all measure”said spokesman Dimitri Peskov, quoted by Russian agencies. “Such initiatives do not smell very good” et “ttrying to isolate the Russians is doomed to failure”.

Lhe question of visas issued to Russian citizens has been agitating Russia’s European neighbors for several weeks now. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas reacted in the wake of the Ukrainian president’s statements. “Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right”she wrote on Twitter. “As long as Schengen continues to issue visas, Russia’s neighbors bear the burden”she added, pointing to Finland, Estonia and Lithuania. “It’s time to end tourism from Russia.”

Flights from Russia to the EU were indeed interrupted after the outbreak of the Russian offensive in Ukraine on February 24. Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, has become an important transit area for Russian tourists deprived of flights to Europe. On Thursday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto recently presented a plan to limit tourist visas issued to these nationals. The precious sesame would then be reserved, “preference”family members or students. If the government gives the green light, a decision could be made by the end of the month.

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