Nov 22, 2023

Czechia Wants EU to Restrict Travel for Russian Diplomats

The Czech government has proposed a document that, among other ideas, includes making visa issuance for Russian diplomats more stringent as part of negotiations on the 12th package of EU sanctions against Russia.

The package is currently being debated by the Schengen countries and has yet to be approved by the respective governments.

According to Czech officials, Russian diplomats should be able to obtain visas and residence permits that allow them movement only within one Schengen country instead of the whole area. The same points out that the measure is aimed at countering espionage.

Over 70 Russian nationals were expelled from Czechia last year as an act of solidarity with Ukraine, which has been fully invaded by Russian troops ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition to restricting Russians to only one Schengen country, Czechia also believes that the EU should accept only biometric passports in hopes of harder-to-forge documentation and in an effort to limit links to fake identities.

One of the issues that Prague mentioned was related to Russian officials who were obtaining Austrian visas to work for UN agencies in Vienna and then travelling elsewhere in the Schengen Area.

By the middle of the month, the EU Diplomacy Chief Josep Borell, in cooperation with the European Commission, presented the proposal for a new package of sanctions against Russia, which would mark the 12th consecutive proposal for more stringent measures for this country and its population.

The debate is still ongoing, and the legal issues involved mean that any change is unlikely to be noticed in the package that is being discussed and revised by the respective authorities.

Earlier, media reports estimated that Vienna had become the “spy capital” of Europe due to the procedures of local legislation and the large staff of the Russian embassy there.

Italy and Finland were the other two main destinations for Russian applicants in 2022, with 117,167 and 112,737 applications, respectively.

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