Reinsalu against changing residence rules for Russian IT specialists

Urmas Reinsalu.
Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) is not in favor of granting an exception to extend temporary residence permits for Russian IT specialists. He said changing the policy is not justified.

On Wednesday, it was reported the Estonian Information Technology and Telecommunications Union (ITL) and MTÜ Asutajad have appealed to the government to change the rules which no longer grant temporary residence permit extensions to Russian citizens. These were introduced after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.

An exception already exists for Belarussian IT specialists, which ITL would like to see extended to Russians who lived in Estonia before the introduction of sanctions.

Reinsalu, who does not have sole authority to make the final decision, said he is against the move.

"As the Russian Federation continues its unjustified war against Ukraine, with which it grossly violates the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, creating new exceptions to the current visa policy is not justified," he said on Wednesday.

Veiko Kommusaar, undersecretary for Internal Security of the Ministry of the Interior, told ERR the request must be discussed by the government.

"The government must be unanimous in terms of sanctions, and this issue will certainly be discussed and whether certain exceptions would be necessary or not," he said.

He added Estonia unwaveringly supports Ukraine and work is continuously underway to ensure Estonia's security and mitigate risks. 

"Putin's terror against Ukraine and Ukrainians is a threat to Estonia and Europe's security and the government has the right to impose sanctions to protect the security or interests of Estonia," the vice chancellor emphasized.

ITL says Russians working in the Estonian IT sector are top specialists who share the country's "value space" and moved here in "good faith" wanting to stay here long-term. They could not have predicted the current international security situation, the umbrella organization said.

The total number of people affected is estimated to be approximately 1,000.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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