Russia, Poland introduce visa regime

A visa regime is being introduced for persons traveling between Russia and Poland on October 1 - in connection with Poland's upcoming entry into the European Union. But the regime will be "as relaxed as possible," according to Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov.

The diplomat said the visa agreement Russia had reached with Poland was "the most favorable in respect of ordinary citizens" as compared to other agreements of the same kind that Russia had signed previously. That, he explained, was due to the high number of visits (3.5 million a year, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry) the subjects of the two countries paid each other every year.

The agreement granted numerous privileges to travelers seeking a visa, he went on. Children below 16, elderly people aged 70 and older, students, post-graduates, teachers and people engaged in trade-and-economic cooperation would be getting free visas. Residents of the Kaliningrad region, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea, would be granted free multiple visas.

Introduction of the visa regime was not something Russia or Poland had decided on, Razov stressed. In fact, the two countries had been perfectly content with the 1979 agreement on visa-free travel, so neither Moscow nor Warsaw are "enthusiastic about the introduction of a new regime," he explained.

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