Finland to further restrict tourist visas to Russian citizens: FM

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HELSINKI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- As of September, Finland will accept only about 100 applications for tourist visas from Russian citizens per week, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported on Tuesday.

The country's Foreign Minister, Pekka Haavisto, told Yle that the decision was made because Finland does not want to become a transit country for Russian citizens accessing the rest of Europe.

According to Yle, from the beginning of September, Finland will accept only around 100 tourist visa applications from Russian citizens, only on Mondays, and only in four cities: St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Murmansk and Moscow.

In mid-August, Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to slash the number of visas issued to Russians by half. From the beginning of September, the country will cut visa application appointments in Russia from 1,000 to 500 per day, with just 100 allocated to tourists.

Haavisto is in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, to attend a two-day informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) member states. The ministers discuss the short and long-term effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, including issues relating to the EU's visa policy for Russian citizens.

EU countries are divided on the issue. Finland is among those that have called on the EU to tighten up its tourist visa policy. However, certain other EU governments have been reluctant to back such a measure. The European Commission expected the proposed visa ban to also raise legal issues. Enditem

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