In response to recent developments in Russia, the Republic of Latvia has decided to extend its existing entry ban on most Russian nationals until March of next year. The ban was initially imposed on September 19, 2022, and was set to expire on June 30, 2023.
The decision to extend the ban is due to Russia's ongoing military aggression in Ukraine, which is seen as a threat to Latvia's internal security. The Latvian government announced on June 27, 2023, that the ban would now be in effect until March 4, 2024.
Certain categories of Russian citizens will remain exempt from the entry ban, including those who hold a residence permit issued by Latvia, the European Union, a country of the European Economic Area, or the Swiss Confederation. Russian citizens with long-term or short-term visas from a Schengen Agreement member state will also be allowed entry. Family members of EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, as well as individuals with humanitarian reasons for entering Latvia or those employed in transportation services, will also be exempt.
However, the Latvian government clarified that Russian citizens seeking entry for tourism and entertainment purposes will still be subject to the entry ban.
The decision to extend the entry ban comes after the rebellion of the Wagner group of mercenaries in Russia led by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who had expressed intentions to overthrow President Vladimir Putin. The neighboring EU countries, including Latvia, immediately reinforced their borders following the announcement to ensure internal security.
Latvia had suspended all visa applications from Russian citizens, including those for humanitarian reasons, in response to the situation. However, visa applications have now resumed. The country's Foreign Affairs Minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, has stated that Latvia will not offer any reception for individuals claiming to have been part of the coup or those fleeing the rebellion.
Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania had also imposed similar entry bans on Russian citizens in September 2022. In light of the current situation, the Finnish government is considering tightening entry restrictions to prevent Russian citizens from finding loopholes to enter Finland.
The extended entry ban reflects Latvia's concerns over the security implications of Russia's actions and its commitment to protecting its borders and national security.
By fLEXI tEAM