Russian dissidents aren’t in France for food


“I can’t stand it,” a Finnish parliamentarian describes the sight of Russian tourists stocking up on souvenirs and flooding across the border as Vladimir Putin’s forces bombard Ukraine.

To make matters worse, the fact that some tourists are traveling visa-free to Schengen countries in the European Union undermines the sanctions net trapped in oligarch superyachts, golden passports and flights from Russia. It seems that you are making it. EU destinations accounted for 25% of online travel insurance policies in June and July, with Spain and Italy in the top three, according to data from insurer Rosgostrakh PJSC, according to Russia Travel Digest. .

Correspondingly, restrictions on national visas have been rolled out. But with the backing of her current EU rotating presidency, the Czech Republic, at a time of mounting pressure for her EU-wide ban on visas for Russian citizens, how effective and “clever” these penalties are. ” should be asked.

Such a ban would be a sign of support for the fragile state on Russia’s doorstep, but it also risks lumping Putin’s friends and foes together. Both morally, as a form of collective punishment, and in practice, helping Russian dissidents find safety abroad. For example, the Finnish Schengen route has been used by anti-war Russian citizens who ended up in France.

Some politicians say this doesn’t matter. The EU offers “humanitarian” visas to Russians fleeing persecution. In other words, only holidaymakers are eligible. But if the Schengen route was key, it’s precisely the vagaries of the asylum process and the low number of humanitarian visas distributed, observers say. Fugitive exiles face more closed doors.

None of this turmoil is apparently comparable to the plight of Ukrainian refugees and their relatives burying their dead. His 41-year-old public health expert Daniel Kashnitsky, who recently arrived in France from Moscow, told me he knows how lucky he is. and fled with his family to prevent his 18-year-old son from being drafted.

Kashnitsky has said he supports any move that could turn the tide of the war, but believes the visa ban could backfire. They fear the return of exiles and dissidents blocked from the EU will be used as propaganda.

In fact, the West could see the diaspora as a resource to cultivate. Proponents of the ban will say most Russians aren’t exactly on the same side, with 77% of reported approval of the war, but the think tank CEPA says core support for the war is I think it is highly likely that there is a large overlap with 76% of Russians. I have never been abroad. They will not be affected or moved by visa bans, unlike the highly skilled pundits who advocate immigration as a means of draining the Putin regime. We aim to attract them by exempting the

Konstantin Sonin, an economist at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, uses Putin’s brain drain to preserve democratic values ​​by granting asylum to victims of persecution, and to create an economy for skilled immigrants. said it can bring real benefits. That would mean a departure from investor visas and golden passports, which have benefited Putin’s entourage and fueled understandable outrage.

It plays a major role in hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees and is a security threat to central and eastern European countries directly under threat from Moscow, such as over goods transiting the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. Concerns cannot be ignored. Estonia has repelled the largest wave of cyberattacks in more than a decade.

But the debate over visas is looming large, with more financial support to Kyiv, unlocking economic stimulus for households, and speeding up crucial decisions about nuclear power plant expansions on German and Dutch gas fields. It distracts from the priority of helping Ukraine. Catastrophic inflation and energy shortages are the real threats to the war effort. The story of isolating Russia with a travel ban contradicts her €83.3 billion ($83.8 billion) he sent to Russia by the EU for fossil fuels since the invasion. This is more than a tourist busload and may be the most excruciating contradiction of all.

Bloomberg Opinion Details:

• Russian asylum seekers must keep quiet about visa ban: Leonid Bershidsky

• Can Switzerland remain neutral to Putin?: Andreas Cruz

• Israel cannot afford to criticize Putin too loudly: Zev Chafets

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering digital currencies, the European Union and France. Previously, he was a reporter for Reuters and Forbes.

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