Simplified visa regime for Russia and the EU

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The European Union and Russia will put a simplified visa regime in place beginning from 01 June 2007, a product of talks at the Russia-EU summit in May 2006 in the Russian resort city of Sochi.

The simplified regime will cover close relatives, journalists, cultural and educational workers participating in exchange programs, scientists, students, participants in exchanges between twin cities and international sport competitions, as well as people wishing to visit the graves of their relatives.

<$adv0> For most cases, a written request by the involved party in the host nation or a certificate proving employment in a particular field will be required, such as in the case of journalists.

For those seeking to visit the graves of their relatives, a certified document confirming the existence and preservation of the grave as well as the relationship to the applicant and the buried is required.

Schengen tourist visa charges for the EU will continue to be charged at €35.

The agreement, designed to facilitate a "steady development of economic, humanitarian, cultural, scientific and other ties," will not include the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark as they do not participate in Schengen agreements. Russia will hold separate talks with them as well as Norway and Iceland, who are not EU members but participate in the Schengen agreements.

The European Commission press service stated that the simplified visa regime "was an important step towards visa-free travel between the Russian Federation and European countries."

However, recent tensions at the latest Russia-EU summit in the Russian city of Samara may stall hopes for a visa-free regime until issues of human rights between both parties can be resolved. Russia is also in disagreement over U.S. plans to put missiles in Eastern Europe.


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