TALLINN - The Estonian government on Thursday approved a sanction restricting the issuance of visas to citizens of the Russian Federation as well as entry to the state across the external border with Estonian-issued Schengen visas from Aug. 18.
As an exception, residence permits will be extended by one year for students who are concluding their studies in Estonian higher education establishments.
Entry to Estonia will remain permitted for citizens of the Russian Federation holding a long-term residence permit and those coming to Estonia to visit their close relatives as well as Russian diplomats working in Estonia and their family members, workers involved in the international transport of goods and passengers, people who have the right to freedom of movement under EU law as well as people entering Estonia for humanitarian reasons.
"We've observed a massive growth in the number of Russian citizens transiting through or arriving in Estonia," Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu said. "Russian citizens' opportunity to visit Estonia in large numbers or to visit Europe through Estonia is incompatible with the meaning of the sanctions we've established. By establishing the sanctions, Estonia wanted for the aggressor state to be unable to continue its ordinary international life also at the level of its citizens."
Reinsalu added that Estonia will also stop issuing visas to the aggressor state's citizens for the purpose of work, study and entrepreneurship in Estonia.
Minister of the Interior Lauri Laanemets said that the sanctions established in spring have put the students from Russia who have not been able to finish their studies within the nominal duration of their study program in an unexpected situation.
"For many of these young people, returning home may prove dangerous in the present situation because they have spoken up in defense of Ukraine and criticized the Russian aggression and regime. Doing so is punishable as a criminal offense in Russia and, thus, it was necessary to extend the residence permits of these students by one year as an exception to enable them to finish their studies here," Laanemets added.
The sanction is slated to enter into force on Aug. 18.