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Daily: Ministry denies loophole 'health visas' for Russian citizens

Spa center (photo is illustrative).
Spa center (photo is illustrative). Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Estonia is not issuing 'health visas' to citizens of the Russian Federation who wish to visit health spas in Estonia, or may use the visas in order to transit through Estonia to reach the rest of the EU, the foreign affairs ministry told daily Postimees.

Businesses such as the Meresuu Spa in Narva-Jõesuu, on the border, have effectively issued online invites to Russian citizens to visit both for recreational and work purposes, as well as for study or family reasons, though Kaido Ojaperv, Director General of Radisson Hotels, told Postimees that issuing visas or invitations to visit is not within the competence of a hotel.

Several private health clinics also told the daily that they had not taken on clients from the Russian Federation in the wake of the rounds of sanctions applied following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine – while a spokesperson for hotels and restaurants said that the pandemic had reduced custom from the Russian Federation practically to zero well before the invasion.

Nonetheless, in the period January 1 this year to June 20, Estonian foreign missions have issued 9,364 Schengen visas to Russian citizens, in addition to those issued by other Schengen member states – while since March 10 visa applications cannot be submitted at Estonia's foreign representations in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Pskov and in Minsk, Belarus, there are workarounds, such as those with family in Estonia or who hold valid residence permits in the country.

Social media "influencers" inside the Russian Federation have also been posting how-to guides to reach Europe, with one claiming – in a YouTube video apparently posted from Raekoja plats in Tallinn's Old Town – that she had been able to obtain a "health visa" after being "invited" by to enter the country, and with it, the rest of the Schengen Area.

The original Postimees piece is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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