Finnish tourists to visit Russia without visas?

On Thursday, September 5, Moscow will host a meeting of the Russian and Finnish Foreign Ministries' representatives, who will discuss the opportunity of simplifying the procedure of tourist groups' visits, including cruise ship passengers' visits, to the Russian territory.

Immediately after Finland's joining the EU and the Schengen zone the Finns' right to visit St. Petersburg and Vyborg without visas was put in question, because Russian citizens do not enjoy this right on the Finnish territory, said the spokesman for the Russian embassy in Helsinki Artyom Semyonov.

On the 16th of August the Russian embassy draw Finland's attention to the fact that in compliance with the Russian legislation and international practice, only the ships visiting at least two foreign port are entitled to the non-visa cruise status. This move was made after the 28th of August when the Finnish shipping company "Silja Line" planed to start Helsinki-St. Petersburg transit of passengers by sea, using a simplified scheme of non-visa tourism for registering tourist groups.

However, though the Finnish Foreign Ministry made a late response, only on the 27th of August, the cruise way opening ceremony was canceled, said the Russian diplomat. Moreover, non-visa trips for the Finnish shipping company "Kristina Cruiser" via the Saimaa Channel with a call at Vyborg were also canceled.

In the light of the coming Russia-Finland consultations scheduled for Thursday, Moscow expresses its intention "to contribute to simplifying the formal procedures connected with crossing the borders as much as possible in compliance with the Russian legislation and our country's international liabilities." Russia's Foreign Ministry also stresses Russia's readiness to consider an opportunity of simplifying the procedure for Finnish ships passengers' entries to Russia, including cruise passengers, but "on the mutual basis".

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Author`s name Editorial Team