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Russia set to repeal visa requirement for young holders of alien's passports

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has prepared an amendment to Vladimir Putin’s 2008 decree which would once again allow noncitizens of Estonia and Latvia born after Feb. 6, 1992 to travel to Russia without a visa.

The 2008 decree provided that stateless persons could travel to Russia visa-free provided that they were former citizens of the USSR, i.e. born before Feb. 6, 1992. Now the plan is to abolish the restriction, reported ERR’s Russian-language online news portal (link in Russian).

The question of visa-free entry affects the situations of Estonian and Latvian noncitizens, stated the letter of explanation accompanying the amendment. Most of them wish to retain and promote historical, cultural, commercial, economic and other ties with Russia, however such an artificial division into two categories, in which some people have the right to visa-free entry and others don’t, only complicates their situation. At the same time, the current restrictions specifically affect young people aged 18-25, some of whom wish to link their and their children’s futures to Russia.

This summer, the media addressed the issue of Estonian and Latvian noncitizens after a university student and holder of a Latvian alien’s passport who had previously freely traveled and lived visa-free in Russia was arrested in Moscow.

The Russian Embassy in Tallinn explained at the time that not all noncitizens had the right to travel to Russia visa-free, only those whose date of birth preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union.

While Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered the government to abolish this restriction in September, the Russian Embassy highlighted the fact that this visa-free situation would still only apply to short-term travel to Russia, i.e. no longer than 90 days within a 180-day period. If anyone needs to stay in Russia for longer than that, such as for study- or work-related reasons, they must still apply for a visa.

There are approximately 1,200 young owners of alien’s passports in Estonia today.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

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