EU should ban all Russians from entry – Latvian foreign minister — Analysis

The diplomat accused Russia of shelling its own allies’ detention center without providing any evidence

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics has accused Russia of shelling a detention center in the Donetsk People’s Republic, and called on the EU to suspend tourist visas for Russian citizens. Latvia recently suggested a variety of tough measures against Moscow. This includes forcing ordinary Russians not to support their government. 

Rinkevics, in a Twitter post on Saturday accused Russia of being the culprit. “brutal murder of Ukrainian POWs,” a reference to the fatal shelling of a detention center in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Friday. The facility held members of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces in Mariupol in May. Fivety of the prisoners of war were killed in this strike.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the strike was carried out by the Ukrainian military using US-made HIMARS rocket launchers. The DPR authorities accused Ukraine of bombing the facility to stop the Azov prisoners from testifying about their unit’s alleged war crimes. 

Both the US and UN declined to assign blame for either striker, citing lack of information.

Rinkevics urged the EU, however to name Russia an a “state sponsor of terrorism,”This is something the bloc has not stated it will do. Washington’s State Department explicitly refrained from naming Russia as such, because it would be inconsistent with the exemptions to sanctions.

Finland can’t stop Russians from getting visas – media

Rinkevics also asked the EU for a ban against Russians applying for tourist visas. Latvia and several Eastern European nations, including Poland, have already passed such a ban. Russians can enter any one Schengen Area country, and then be permitted to travel across the borders into the 25 other states. However freedom of movement laws allow them to do so.

While individual countries are allowed to restrict visa types, EU rules dictate that visas cannot be given to journalists or family members. Interfax in Russia was briefed by an official from the European Commission on Friday, as there were discussions in Finland about imposing a total ban on Russian tourists. 

Latvia, however has found ways to limit Russian entry. Latvia’s State Security Service (VDD) told broadcaster LSM on Friday that foreigners entering the country from Russia or Belarus would face “increased scrutiny”At border checkpoints in order to “identify persons who support Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”

One woman told LSM that her husband – a Russian citizen and permanent resident in Latvia – had been asked to sign a document denouncing Russia as an “aggressor”Or that his residency be revoked. Moscow wrote a protest letter to Latvia, condemning coerced statements. However Rinkevics informed LSM that Latvia would still use these measures. “in our security interests.”

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