Russian passport (in Russian, Заграничный паспорт гражданина Росссийской Федерациии, transl. Foreign passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation) is a document issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs to Russian citizens for international travel. This external Russian passport is different from the internal Russian passport, which is a mandatory identity document for travel and identification within Russia. Russian citizens must use their Russian passports when leaving or entering Russia, unless traveling to/from a country where the internal Russian ID is recognized as a valid travel document.
In addition to regular passports, there are two types of special passports for travel abroad: diplomatic passports and service passports (issued to government employees abroad on official business).
Foreigners coming to Russia faced various restrictions during the tsarist period; border magistrates could allow foreigners to pass within the state only with the permission of the higher government. During the Instability era, in order to travel within the country, so-called travel cards (in Russian, проезжие грамоты) were introduced, mainly for police control purposes. Peter I, by the decree of October 30, 1719, declared them mandatory for travel, following the imposition the compulsory military service and the capitation tax. In 1724, in order to avoid the possibility of evading the payment of the poll tax, special rules on peasants’ absences were established.
Connections via Istanbul or Dubai are not very attractive due to excessive demand and high prices. So this summer the most used option for travel between Russia and the EU is to cross the land border with the Baltic countries and Finland. But this route may be closed if the EU says do svidanya to Russian tourists. Schengen countries bordering Russia, such as Estonia, have already begun to limit their entry. The EU is debating whether to ban their entry across the board. Foreign ministers of the 27 will discuss next week a controversial issue that divides the EU.
“Visiting Europe is a privilege and not a right, and this privilege does not belong to citizens of a country waging a genocidal war in Ukraine,” said Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Since Russian tanks entered Ukraine several countries want to ban Russians from entering their countries for tourism. The bid to stop Russians across the board, barring humanitarian or family causes, has grown in August, after Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky told The Washington Post that Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”
“The member states consider that business as usual is no longer an option. We have agreed politically that something has to be done”, announced the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, in declarations after the informal meeting in Prague of foreign ministers of the bloc, who have given the green light to limit visas for Russian tourism.
The suspension of the visa facilitation agreement with Russia has ended up being the meeting point between the Member States that demanded a total ban on the entry of Russians to the EU, such as the Baltic States, and those that demanded to be more selective.
Regarding the border controls already applied by some Member States, such as Estonia, to curb the arrival of Russian citizens on European soil, Borrell explained that the EU-27 can adopt a wide range of measures within the framework of the Schengen code.
The arrival of tourists from Russia has become “a security issue” for the EU’s neighboring countries, such as the Baltic States and Finland, admitted Borrell, who assured that this summer Russian citizens have been seen traveling to Europe for leisure, “as if there were no war in Ukraine”.
Estonia was the first country to accede to this request and stop issuing tourist visas. “It is time to put an end to tourism from Russia,” said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Finland confirmed on Tuesday that it will reduce the issuance of visas to Russian citizens by 10% as of September. Both have thus joined Latvia, which has been applying this restriction since the beginning of August, and Lithuania, which adopted it at the end of February, limiting visas to humanitarian cases.
I call on all EU and G7 states to stop issuing visas to Russians. President @ZelenskyyUa is absolutely right to insist on this. Russians overwhelmingly support the war on Ukraine. They must be deprived of the right to cross international borders until they learn to respect them.- Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) August 10, 2022
The competence to issue (or deny) tourist visas rests with each member state. These allow their recipient to travel for up to 90 days within the Schengen area, the borderless area comprising the territory of 26 European countries, not all of them EU members. The European Commission has limited itself to remarking that it is promoting “a coordinated response” from the EU-27 and that the decision will be taken in Prague, as confirmed on Thursday by its Interior spokesperson, Anitta Hipper.