Finland set to 'limit or stop' entry of Russian tourists

Cars with Russian number plates wait to cross the border in Lappeenranta, Finland, on Sept 19, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

HELSINKI - Finland said on Wednesday it is is preparing a national solution to "limit or completely prevent" tourism from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

"This national solution may include new legislation, which would be adopted very quickly," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a press conference.

Since Russia's Covid-19 restrictions expired in July, there has been a boom in Russian travellers and a rising backlash in Europe against allowing in Russian tourists while the war continues.

Finland drastically limited tourist visas for Russians in September.

But they continue to enter Finland with visas issued by other EU countries in the Schengen borderless travel area.

"Finland does not want to be a country that is a transit country for Schengen visas issued by other countries either," Haavisto said.

According to a poll published by Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat on Wednesday, around 70 per cent of Finns want the Nordic country to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians.

Finland has been calling for an EU decision to limit visas for Russians, but Haavisto noted, "It cannot be guaranteened that this move would happen very quickly."

The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania - which border Russia - have already toughened their own visa rules leaving Finland as Russia's last EU neighbour for Schengen visa holders to transit through.

The Finnish border guard said the situation has "not changed significantly" on the border, despite Russia's announcement on Wednesday of military mobilisation, denying rumours spreading online of kilometres long queues. AFP

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