Estonia blocks e-Residency for new Russian, Belarusian citizens

e-Residency card in a laptop.
e-Residency card in a laptop. Source: Brand Estonia

Estonia's e-Residency scheme will stop accepting new applications from Belarusian and Russian citizens, Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) said on Tuesday. Applications currently being processed will be terminated.

In a statement, Jaani said he made the proposal to the government to prevent sanctions from being breached.

Russian or Belarusian citizens who already hold a valid e-resident digital ID will be able to keep it. However, the minister said additional scrutiny will be paid to existing e-residents from Russia and Belarus in the coming months.

Jaani said Estonia does not want to "contribute in any way to offering advantages to countries which started the war against Ukraine" or to damage Estonia's reputation, economy or cyberspace.  

"We also do not want the opportunities offered by Estonia to be maliciously used to support aggression against Ukraine," he said.

Citizens of Russia and Ukraine are two of the top five countries using Estonia's e-residency scheme.

In 2019, Postimees reported Ukrainians had opened 873 companies in Estonia and there were 3,916 e-residents from Ukraine. Russians had 752 companies and 4,283 e-residents.

E-Residency is a government-issued digital identity and status that provides access to Estonia's business environment.

On February 24, Russia launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine, supported by Belarus. So far more than 2 million refugees have fled Ukraine.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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