Germany to ease visa rules for Russian Kremlin critics

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 30 May, 2022 Updated Mon 30 May 2022 15:17 CEST
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Russian police arrest a man in Moscow for protesting against the war in Ukraine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Sputnik | Vitaliy Belousov

Berlin will ease visa requirements for Russian critics of Vladimir Putin's government to allow them to live and work in Germany, an interior ministry spokesman said Monday.

Journalists, scientists and civil society activists who are facing pressure from Moscow will be able to benefit from the newly agreed rules.

Human rights defenders and employees of foreign organisations which have been classified as "undesirable" in Russia can also be granted residency under the sped-up procedures.

Their immediate family members will likewise benefit, said the spokesman.

He could not give any figures on how many people might benefit from the eased procedures, but said applicants will have to present "credible" cases.

Germany has opened its doors to an estimated 600,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion.

But in the last weeks, calls have grown for Europe's biggest economy to also offer protection to Kremlin critics.

In April, German daily Welt announced it was hiring Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who staged an anti-war protest on live TV, as a foreign correspondent. 

Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russia’s Channel One television, barged onto the set of its flagship Vremya (Time) evening news in March holding a poster reading “No War” in English.

She was later fined by the government for the demonstration. 

In the past few weeks, Germany has also streamlined the visa process for Russians who currently work for German companies and want to move away from their home country. 

READ ALSO: German authorities simplify visa process for skilled Russian workers

Under the new conditions, Russian workers who who earn at least €43,992 a year and who want to transfer to Germany with their current employer will be granted “global access to the labour market”, meaning that their visas will be granted automatically.

Deputy Chancellor Robert Habeck said however that in the process of welcoming Russians, Germany has to ensure that "the wrong ones" do not "come to us, and we don't bring spies into our country".

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