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Finland tightens visa rules for Russian tourists

Helsinki, Aug 17 (IANS) Finland will issue fewer tourist visas to Russians from September as a result of Moscow’s continued invasion of Ukraine.

“We will limit the number of approved applications to one-tenth of the current level,” dpa news agency quoted Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto as saying to Finnish radio on Tuesday.

According to national broadcaster Yle, the European Union (EU) country processes about a thousand Russian visa applications a day.

“At the same time, we want to make it easier for people to come to Finland to work, study or visit relatives,” Haavisto said.

“So there should be solutions for those who have a reason to come to Finland, but the ordinary tourist visa should be harder to get.”

Finland, which borders Russia and is joining NATO because of the war, has been trying to welcome as many Ukrainian refugees as possible and the number of Russian tourists on top of that has caused disquiet.

“For many Finns that was hard to accept,” Haavisto added.

Opinion polls have shown a majority of Finns support the idea of limiting Russian tourist visas.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin had raised the idea of a blanket EU ban on Russian tourists at a meeting with Nordic and German leaders on Monday.

But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is against the plan because he thinks it would prevent people fleeing Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime.

Haavisto said he hoped for an agreement on a way forward at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers at the end of the month.

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