Between October 1, 2019, and the end of January 2020, Russia has issued more than 100,000 free electronic visas for travel to St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, nearly 30 percent of which have gone to Estonian residents, Russian Ambassador to Estonia Alexander Petrov told RIA Novost.
"The numbers of e-visas issued to tourists exceeded our most optimistic expectations," Petrov said. "From October 1, 2019, through January 30, 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation issued more than 100,000 e-visas for travel to St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast."
According to the ambassador, one can now confidently claim that this change was justified. He added that Estonians' interest in visiting Russia has significantly increased as well.
"Visas issued to Estonians account for approximately 30 percent," he said. "The more Estonians visit Russia, the more economic, humanitarian and research ties between our countries develop. I am certain that personal contacts between people will be a benefit, and will also serve to strengthen bilateral communications between our countries. At the same time, the fair question arises whether the European Union, including Estonia, is prepared to respond to Russia's token of goodwill with the same."
The free e-visa is valid for a period of up to 30 calendar days, of which the holder is permitted to spend up to eight days in qualifying parts of Russia. Applicants may apply for the e-visa for tourism purposes but also business travel or in connection with cultural, sports or research fields.
In addition to St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast, Estonian citizens are also permitted to enter Kaliningrad Oblast and, as of January, the Far Eastern Federal District on the e-visa as well.
Editor: Aili Vahtla