Finnish tourists to visit St.Petersburg without visas?

On Thursday Moscow is expected to host negotiations between representatives of the Russian and Finnish foreign ministries devoted to a possible simplification of the procedures to enter Russia for Finnish vessels, including cruise ships, the Finnish embassy in Moscow reported.

On August 28th the Finnish ship operator Silja Line was expected to open a new passenger sea route Helsinki-St.Petersburg. Yet the trip was cancelled and tourists were offered to go to Riga instead or to take back their money.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, the Russian embassy to Finland as early as on August 16th drew the attention of the Finnish party to the fact that in compliance with Russian legislation and international practice such trips could not be considered visa-free cruises. In Finland itself an international cruise implies a visit to at least two foreign ports.

Only on August 27th the Russian foreign ministry received a note from the Finnish embassy stating a possibility of including the Estonian port of Tallinn in the route and asking whether in that case the trips to St.Petersburg could be visa-free.

Moscow has voiced its readiness "to do its best to simplify the formalities connected with border crossing, to the degree allowed by the laws of the Russian Federation and the country's international commitments".

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