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Russia’s 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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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