The Estonian government has decided to give Russian students studying in Estonia a one year visa extension to complete their studies beyond the nominal period.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said, that as visas or residence permits are issued for the purpose of completing a degree course within a nominal period, students who require extra time to complete their studies, will be granted an extension of one year.
"The Ministry of the Interior estimates that the number of students who would need this (extension) in the next year is 50," said Reinsalu.
According to Reinsalu, there are approximately 350 students from the Russian Federation currently studying in Estonia.
Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE) added that the sanctions imposed on Russia in the spring had led to an unexpected situation for those Russian students in Estonia, who had not been able to complete their studies in the nominal period.
"For many of these young people, returning home in the current situation could be dangerous because they have spoken out in defense of Ukraine and criticized Russia's aggression and (its) regime," said Läänemets. "This is a criminal offence in Russia, and it was therefore deemed necessary to extend the residence permits of these students for one year in order to allow them to complete their studies here," the Interior Minister added.
The decision comes shortly after a petition was sent to the government by the Federation of Estonian Students Unions (EÜL), calling for an amendment of restrictions places on Russian and Belarusian students in late July.
Editor: Michael Cole