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European Commission backs harsher visa rules for Russians

The European Commission has backed a proposal put out by EU foreign ministers to suspend an agreement with Moscow that allows Russian citizens to apply for EU visas under simplified procedures.

In a statement put out on Tuesday, the commission said it hopes the EU Council will approve the move and introduce stricter visa rules for Russians by next Monday.

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Russian citizens should not have easy access to the EU,” Ylva Johansson, the EU commissioner for home affairs, told reporters. “At the moment, there is no basis for trust, no basis for a privileged relation between EU and Russia.”

The new rules would make it more expensive and time-consuming for Russian citizens hoping to travel to the EU to get a visa. If approved by the EU Council, Russians would have to pay an €80 service fee instead of the previous €35 fee in order to apply for a visa.

Processing times for visas may also significantly increase if the deal is scrapped, and long-term or multiple-entry visas for Russians could either be completely removed or severely limited, meaning that Russian citizens will only be able to receive single-entry Schengen visas that are limited to specific dates.

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