Kremlin dissidents Kasparov and Khodorkovsky draw attention to EU visa ban for Russian citizens

Two of Russia’s most prominent opponents of Kremlin rule, former oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky and ex-chess champion Garry Kasparov, warned the European Union on Thursday of a blanket ban on Russian citizens entering the bloc, while Moscow criticized the EU’s suspension decision. According to Visa Facilitation Agreement, Agerpres, DPA.

The two exiled opponents told a press conference in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius that a complete halt to issuing tourist visas would close the door to Russians who do not support the war in Ukraine, the PNS news agency reported.

Khodorkovsky said the issue will also determine Russia’s direction after the end of Vladimir Putin’s rule.

“It largely depends on what model the younger generation of Russians will see. For this example to be European, we have to work with this younger generation,” said the former oligarch who fell out of favor with the Kremlin.

“We have to keep in touch with these Russians. We cannot push them aside, because everything that happens tomorrow on our common European continent depends on them,” he added.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the EU’s decision, calling it “contradictory” and “so many absurdities,” Russian Interfax agency reported.

Pulling out of the pre-2007 deal would make the situation even more difficult for the Europeans, Peskov said without elaborating.

The European Union decided on Wednesday to suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Moscow as part of sanctions adopted following Russia’s war in Ukraine.

This decision makes the EU visa process more complicated, more expensive, more bureaucratic and increases the waiting time for approval, but it is not an absolute ban.

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The move comes after pressure from EU countries bordering Russia to prevent Russian citizens from entering the bloc with Schengen visas issued by some EU member states.

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