Russia mulls visa-free travel for 11 countries including India

 Monday, February 20, 2023 


Russia plans to allow visa-free travel for nationals of up to 11 nations, as well as reduce entrance rules for citizens of six others, including India, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced.

State-run TASS quoted him as saying at a government hour in the State Duma that they are working on facilitating a completely visa-free regime with about eleven countries.

With six more, including India, Indonesia, they are looking to ease the conditions.

And let’s not forget that they are working on lifting restrictions on the issuance of electronic visas to a large number of countries, there are about 70 countries, with the exception of unfriendly ones, which have stopped issuing visas to us in a simplified manner.

The Russian Minister also said that the country is planning to re-start the e-visa scheme it had introduced before Covid struck.

Electronic visas were approved three years ago, then the COVID-19 intervened, then they lifted the COVID-19 restrictions last summer.

But given the unfriendly actions of the West, including in the area of issuing visas to Russians, the government was instructed to report before June 1 on the possibility of starting the implementation of the previously adopted decisions on the issuance of electronic visas.

He also added that there will be no questions for friendly countries.

Foreign tourist flow to the country fell by 96.1% in 2022, the latest data from the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation revealed.

The Minister attributed logistical restrictions as the reason behind the tourism decline.

Logistics is now complicated due to decisions to stop direct flights.

It’s one thing for travellers on business trips to fly despite layovers, but not every tourist will do so, because tourists may not have long leaves, and every day is expensive, he stressed.

Tourist traffic from India to Moscow had grown from 61,000 annual visitors to over a lakh between 2016 and 2019. In 2021, traffic recovered to 40% of the pre-pandemic level.

It is interesting to note that out of the Indian travellers who visited Moscow in 2021, 48% went there twice that year.

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