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Russias Rights Record Delays Visa-Free Travel

Published: January 22, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • The E.U. visa-free regime for Russia would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed in the country.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Jan. 17, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed.

The meeting came shortly after the EU decided to cut short a planned meeting with Russian leaders in Brussels later this month, a move which observers have attributed to an ongoing spat over Ukraine.

Visa-Free Visits Floated For Airline Transit Passengers

Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the meeting on Jan. 17 of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council was more about preserving ties than anything else.

We are trying not to turn our relations completely sour and maintain a certain level of dialogue, Konovalov said after meeting with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, adding that the EU was not willing to take further steps in the dialogue for a visa-free regime with Russia.

Konovalov added that Russia was not going to pressure the EU over the visa deal. We have a feeling that our colleagues in the EU are not committed and do not feel a need to eliminate the barriers between Russia and the EU, he said.

Visa Rules Eased for Foreign Investors

Negotiations about the visa-free regime have been ongoing for more than ten years, and Russia has accused the EU of deliberately delaying the process on several occasions. In December, Russia said it had prepared a visa agreement and that it hoped the EU would sign it at the next Russia-EU summit, which has now been shortened from two days to a few hours on Jan. 28.

At the request of the EU, the summit, which is usually held over two days with numerous meetings, will consist solely of a working dinner in Brussels on Jan. 28 between President Vladimir Putin, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Relations between Russia and the EU hit a rough patch after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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