Russia committed to open borders principle for Latvian citizens
Russia says it remains committed to the principle of open borders for all Latvian residents who wish to visit the country for tourism, business, and humanitarian purposes.
Russia remains committed to the principle of open borders for all Latvian citizens, despite restrictions on the entry of Russians into Latvia, the Russian embassy in Riga told Sputnik.
"Russia remains committed to the principle of open borders for all residents of Latvia who wish to visit our country for tourism, business and humanitarian purposes, while the energy crisis is raging in the EU, which is caused by the short-sighted policy of local authorities," the diplomatic mission pointed out.
The embassy considered that by restricting the entry of Russians into the country, Latvia grossly violated the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
In an interview for the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres relayed Monday his hope that conflicts surrounding the EU's suspension of visa processing for Russian citizens will soon be resolved, stating that such measures do not amount to a good idea.
In late August, Latvian President Egils Levits considered that ethnic Russians residing permanently in the Baltic country should be "isolated" if they are not judged to be loyal to the state.
"We see that some of the Russian community is disloyal to our country… Our task is to deal with them, to isolate them… They should simply be isolated," he said on Latvijas Radio.
It is noteworthy that the Latvian parliament had designated Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism", calling on Western allies to implement more comprehensive sanctions on Moscow.
"Latvia recognizes Russia's actions in Ukraine as targeted genocide against the Ukrainian people," the Baltic nation's parliament said in a resolution, which also argued that Western nations should increase their military, financial, humanitarian and diplomatic support for Ukraine while also supporting initiatives to condemn Russia's actions.
Read more: Gazprom halts gas supplies to Latvia over violation of purchase rules
Poland, Baltic states agree EU visa ban plan for Russians: Statement
Earlier this month, Poland and the three Baltic states revealed that they would temporarily restrict access for Russian citizens holding EU visas by September 19 to deal with "public policy and security threats."
The prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland stated they were concerned "about the substantial and growing influx of Russian citizens" into the EU.
"We believe that this is becoming a serious threat to our public security and to the overall shared Schengen area," they said.
The statement added that the four "agreed on a common regional approach and hereby express their political will and firm intention to introduce national temporary measures for Russian citizens holding visas."
The measures would "restrict the entry into the Schengen area for Russian citizens traveling for tourism, culture, sport and business purposes."
Exceptions will be addressed for several categories, including "dissidents", "humanitarian cases", family members, and those who hold residence permits in EU countries.
"We fully uphold the need to continue to support opponents of the Putin regime and provide them with opportunities to leave Russia," the four leaders said.
They added that it was "unacceptable that citizens of the aggressor-state are able to freely travel in the EU, whilst at the same time people in Ukraine are being tortured and murdered."
The prime ministers said they would "continue to seek a common approach on the EU level."
European Council fully suspends visa facilitation for Russians
Last month, the European Council announced that it has fully suspended visa facilitation between the EU and Russia, thus reversing the agreement that served to simplify visa applications for Russian citizens.
In a statement on its website, the council explained that the decision will entail increasing visa fees from €35 to €80 - more than double the initial agreement. More restrictive rules will also be implemented regarding multiple-entry visas.
In response, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told sources that the EU decision will not remain without consequences and that Moscow can respond with both symmetrical and asymmetric measures, which are not expected in Brussels.
Read next: Ban on Russian tourists in the EU will cost €21 billion in losses