The number of visas issued by Russia to citizens of western countries has recently decreased, as fewer tourists visit Russia due to geopolitical tensions, head of Russian Foreign Ministry’s consulate department, Yevgeny Ivanov told Sputnik.
“During the first ten months of the current year, Russian foreign offices have processed over 1.1 million tourist visas. During the same period in 2013 – it was almost 1.33 million. Yes, here we have some reduction in volume. This is happening partially because there are fewer tourists from western countries now due to the difficult political situation,” Ivanov said.
However, Ivanov added that more foreign nationals are receiving long-term visas now than ever before, so these numbers alone do not represent the true extent of tourist travel to Russia at the moment. He pointed out that some foreign nationals are allowed to enter Russia without a visa, as Moscow has agreed on a visa-free regime with certain states, including South Korea.
Ivanov also said that Moscow does not plan to introduce any unilateral measures to restrict Ukrainian nationals’ entry to Russia, commenting on the recent information that Kiev is working on the “Wall” project, presupposing the construction of a physical state boundary between Ukraine and Russia. According to agreements made in 1997, Russian and Ukrainian nationals can travel between the counties without visas.
Relations between Russia and the West have steadily deteriorated amid the Ukrainian crisis. During the past few months, the European Union, the United States and their allies have repeatedly accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, sending troops to Ukraine and supporting local militia in eastern Ukraine – claims that Moscow has repeatedly denied.