Latvia will no longer issue visas to Russian citizens, said the Embassy of Latvia in the Russian Federation and at the Latvian visa center. "The Embassy of Latvia in Russia has indefinitely suspended the acceptance of applications for visas for citizens of the Russian Federation," the diplomatic mission said on Twitter.
The embassy's website clarified that the decision was made "in connection with the international situation." The only exception is the need to participate in the funeral of a close relative, said the Latvian Embassy.
The news agency Delfi reported that, after the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Latvia stopped issuing tourist visas to Russians, but left the opportunity to obtain short-term visas for humanitarian reasons and long-term visas with work permits.
According to Delfi, by the beginning of August, visas had been issued to 247 employees of Russian independent media and 206 members of their families.
From 25 February to 26 July, 654 visas were also granted at Latvian missions due to illness or funeral of a relative, as well as to family members of Latvian and EU citizens. Thus, during this period, 1107 visas were issued to Russian citizens by Latvian diplomatic missions.
Meanwhile, as reported by the national radio and television service LRT, the State Security Service of Latvia (VDD) issued a warning about the risk to national security, coming, among other things, from independent Russian media and individual journalists who have found refuge in Latvia.
According to the VDD’s estimates, the risks are associated with the entry of any person from Russia and Belarus - regardless of their professional affiliation. The service pointed out that the activities of Russian independent media directed against the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin will force the Russian authorities to pay increased attention to Latvia, and therefore the intensity of intelligence and information activities of the Russian Federation directed against Riga may increase.
The VDD, in cooperation with the State Border Guard, the State Police, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, as well as other services, conducts enhanced control of those entering Latvia from Russia and Belarus, as well as carries out other measures to reduce the identified risks to national security, the VDD said.
At a meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on International Affairs on August 2, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica confirmed that 247 visas had been issued to employees of Russian independent media. Visas were obtained by representatives of international news agencies - the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Current Time, as well as several other media outlets - such as Meduza, Novaya Gazeta. Europe and Dozhd (TV Rain). In total, representatives of 23 independent media outlets received Latvian visas.
Earlier, on July 28, the Estonian government approved a resolution that prohibits the granting of temporary residence permits or students visas to Russian citizens. In addition, Russian citizens and Belarus will be able to apply for a short-term work permit only if they have a valid Estonian visa.
Russian or Belarusian citizens will also not be able to get a short-term work permit and Estonian visa even if they have a valid residence permit from another EU country.