HELSINKI: Finland will limit Russian tourist visas to 10 percent of current volumes as of September 1 due to rising discontent over Russian tourism amid the war in Ukraine, the government said Tuesday, reports AFP.
"Tourist visas will not stop completely, but their number will be significantly reduced," Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in Helsinki.
"This means that other types of visas -- visits to relatives, family contacts, work, study -- will be given preference and more time," the minister explained. Currently, Finland processes around 1,000 Russian visa applications a day, Haavisto told public broadcaster Yle separately.
Finland will also look into establishing a specific humanitarian visa category, which the country currently lacks.
"This could make the situation in certain circumstances much easier for journalists or NGO workers", Haavisto said.
The foreign minister also announced that Finland was in favour of discontinuing the EU's visa facilitation agreement with Russia, which would increase the price of tourist visas from 35 euros to 80.
Finland intends to raise the issue at the next meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in the Czech Republic on August 30.
After Russia lifted its Covid travel restrictions on July 15, the number of Russian tourists heading to Finland has steadily increased, spurring discontent.
"It's not right that Russian citizens can enter Europe, the Schengen area, be tourists ... while Russia is killing people in Ukraine. It's wrong", Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Monday.
While the numbers are still well below pre-Covid levels, there were more than 230,000 border crossings in July -- up from the 125,000 seen in June.