RIGA - Latvian diplomatic and consular missions have issued visas to 247 employees of independent Russian media and 206 members of their families, Foreign Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica informed the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
From February 25 to July 26, another 654 Latvian visas have been issued to Russian citizens on humanitarian grounds due to a relative's illness or death or as family members of Latvian or EU citizens, Kalnina-Lukasevica said. The total number of Latvian visas issued to Russian citizens in this time period is 1,107.
The Foreign Ministry's parliamentary secretary indicated that all visa applications on which Latvia's security services provide negative findings are immediately rejected.
Visas are granted either to representatives of international media organizations like BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, or journalists of independent Russian media like Meduza and Novaya Gazeta.
According to Kalnina-Lukasevica, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) believes that Latvia should follow a strict visa issuance policy, which means that the visas should be granted on rare and properly substantiated occasions to prevent an uncontrolled influx of people from Russia.
Representatives of the State Security Service told LETA that in the current geopolitical situation where Russia has launched warfare in Ukraine and is following increasingly aggressive policies in relations with the West, the State Security Service in collaboration with the State Border Guard, State Police and the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, as well as other authorities is carrying out a thorough control of the foreigners arriving in Latvia from Russia and its close ally Belarus, as well as takes other measures to lessen the risks to Latvia's national security.