TALLINN: Estonia's tightened restrictions for Russian nationals wishing to enter the Baltic country came into force on Thursday.
Russian nationals who possess visas issued by Estonia for travel, business, sports, or culture will no longer be permitted access, the government announced earlier this week. Russian nationals possessing visas from other Schengen nations or those already present in the Schengen region can still enter Estonia, nonetheless.
Most nations in the European Union are part of the Schengen region, which promotes free travel within the union. In some situations, such as when Russian diplomats and their families are coming, and when Russians are visiting a close relative who is an Estonian citizen or long-term resident, Estonia will continue to provide visas. At the three border crossings between Russia and Estonia (Narva, Luhamaa, and Koidula) additional visa inspections will be conducted, according to a representative for the Interior Ministry.
In the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, Estonia has been lobbying alongside Latvia and Finland, both of which share a border with Russia, for an EU-wide ban on Russian tourist visas. However, the European Commission and Germany are now opposed to the idea.
The EU's current rotating presidency, the Czech Republic, which is also imposing visa restrictions on Russia, intends to bring up the matter at the end of August's meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU.
According to Estonian border and police authorities, 2,500 Russian individuals cross into Estonia every day, approximately half of them with tourist visas. These visas are distributed in almost equal amounts by Estonia and the other Schengen nations.