Questions for the Russian government

While a few die-hards may be staying on for Saturday’s somewhat meaningless 3rd-4th place game against Belgium, the mass of England fans in Russia are probably heading home right now after their team’s defeat at the hands of the Croats. Despite their disappointment at failing to reach the World Cup final, the evidence suggests that the great majority of English fans have had a thoroughĺy enjoyable time in Russia. The same goes for the fans of all the other participating teams. There is almost universal agreement that World Cup 2018 has been a great success: the football’s been good; there’s been no trouble that anyone has noticed; and the general atmosphere has been fun and friendly. Tens of thousands of foreign football fans are going home and telling all and sundry what a great time they had and that all the scare stories about Russia are a load of nonsense. From Russia’s point of view, it’s a soft power triumph.

The lesson is that when foreigners visit Russia, they tend to like what they see. So here’s a question for the Russian government. Given that Russia benefits when people come and see it, why do you make it so damned difficult for them to do so?

For citizens of most Western countries, getting a visa to travel to Russia is a veritable ordeal – complicated, time consuming, and expensive, and subject to the vagaries of consular officials who might always reject your visa application for some bizarre reason which they will never reveal to you. It’s not surprising that a lot of people decide that it’s not worth the effort.

For the World Cup, the Russians abandoned all the normal visa nonsense. Instead, anyone with a game ticket could get a FAN-ID, which doubled as a multiple entry/exit visa. Getting the FAN-ID was super simple. All you had to do was fill in a very short online form, giving your name, nationality and passport number, and within a couple of days you got a message saying that your application was approved and your ID would be mailed to you free of charge forthwith.

The fact that the huge numbers of FAN-ID holders have not caused any significant trouble for the Russian authorities shows that whatever security checks were done before issuing the IDs was quite sufficient. The plethora of intrusive and sometimes impossible to answer questions on the seemingly ever longer visa application form aren’t necessary at all. Nor is the complicated application process. Russia has shown that a much simpler system works perfectly well.

So, here’s another question for the Russian government? Why not draw the obvious conclusion and abandon the current visa system and just move to something closer to that used for the FAN-ID?

As it happens, I know the answer to this one as I’ve been told it by an official source. The reason getting a Russian visa is so troublesome for us is that it’s troublesome for Russians to get a visa to visit our countries. The Russian authorities don’t actually need all the rubbish they demand from foreigners. They demand it just because we demand it of them.

I understand the logic, but I don’t see what Russia gains from it. After all, Western states aren’t exactly lining up to liberalize their visa regimes just because Russia is playing tit-for-tat. All the policy achieves is that it deters people from visiting Russia. In this way, the Russians are shooting themselves in the foot.

As I said earlier, the World Cup shows that Russia benefits when people come and see it. Russia should make it easier for them to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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26 thoughts on “Questions for the Russian government”

  1. Paul, pride does get in the way of things which may be sensible. Western governments the UK in particular treat Russian visa applicants with contempt and this is heavily resented, bringing my relatives over is a challenge. Both sides are frankly equally stupid, If western governments wished to push a more positive narrative they should have encouraged more travel by Russians but this arrogance stops anything so sensible. The treatment of Chinese and Indians is even worse. I guess that the Brits have not cottoned on to where the future money is.

    I agree that the Russians may be missing a trick with a more permissive visa regime such as an e visa taking a few days

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    1. Indeed, it has a lot to do with pride, as Lyttdnburgh’s remarks below prove. But it’s very much cutting off their nose to spite their face.

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      1. You have axiomatic assumption that X country citizens are more valuable for Russian state then Russians for X country. What is they are not? Why do you assume that Russia want or need to see X country citizens much more? Thought that it’s visa complications of X country for Russians is “cutting of nose” or something do not occur to you.

        Russian visa policy insist that citizens of both countries must be treated the same. For you it’s stupid vengeance for me it’s fair and respectful for both parties attitude.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “After all, Western states aren’t exactly lining up to liberalize their visa regimes just because Russia is playing tit-for-tat.”

    And they won’t do it either if Russians liberalize their visa regime.
    It is a matter of self-respect.
    At most, a western version of the eastern e-visa should be introduced in order to help Kaliningrad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Given that Russia benefits when people come and see it, why do you make it so damned difficult for them to do so?”

    Principle of reciprocity. Do you think it’s much easier for any given Russian to visit the countr of the benign West?

    For RUSSIAN citizens, getting a visa to travel to the WEST is a veritable ordeal – complicated, time consuming, and expensive, and subject to the vagaries of consular officials who might always reject your visa application for some bizarre reason (e.g. they might suspect you are “too poor” and want to secretely emigrate) which they will never reveal to you. It’s not surprising that a lot of people decide that it’s not worth the effort. 🙂

    “Why not draw the obvious conclusion and abandon the current visa system and just move to something closer to that used for the FAN-ID?”

    You (the West) first 😉

    “The Russian authorities don’t actually need all the rubbish they demand from foreigners. They demand it just because we demand it of them.”

    What about the western authorities then? They, being rrrrracially superior, SURELY, 100500% have a legit reasons, amirite?

    “All the policy achieves is that it deters people from visiting Russia. In this way, the Russians are shooting themselves in the foot.”

    No. It means having principles and showing some spine. Given the general hostility of the West as the political entity Russia by no means should surrender even an inch for free.

    “As I said earlier, the World Cup shows that Russia benefits when people come and see it. Russia should make it easier for them to do so.”

    Russia is not tourist dependent country. We will, somehow, survive, not pandering to the Western public, which, anyway, does not decide anything in their own countries. World Cup was a nice exception. Lets not dilute it.

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    1. Tl;dr – your suggestion, professor (just like several similar suggestions that you made in the past, like Re:education of the Russians in the West) is ultimately liberal and more suitable for a country totally devoid of dignity, self-respect and any cognitive power.

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      1. “Well, thank you!!”

        “Telling the truth is easy and pleasant” (c) You are thanking me for saying, that your “челобитная” is dictated by your idvidualistic liberal wolrdview and, as such, will never be treated seriously neither by the Russian people en masse, nor by the Russian government.

        You also omitt the second half, where I say, that your demands are “more suitable for a country totally devoid of dignity, self-respect and any cognitive power”.

        What you did here, professor, was resorting to kvetching. I don’t understand! I thought, that you live in the Free West ™, where the Civil Society ™ has the say over any petty tyranny of The Man ™. Ultimately, it’s your own government’s (“regime”) fault. Why won’t you, a free man of the free world, get together likeminded highly individualistic liberals and say: “We are the Power Here! Hey, Canadian government – make it easy for the Russians to travel to our beutiful country!”. Surely, you are bound to succeed in this much, much more, compared to asking something from the foreign (and hostile) governemnt.

        Russia is not “isolated” and Russians are travelling abroad – to Turkey, Greece, Thailand, Egypt, CIS countries and Israel. Why? Reciprocity in visa application process, that’s why.

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  4. I am English. I have lived in Russia for 25 years, the last 21 of which having been the legal spouse of a Russian citizen.

    I was granted a full residence permit in 2007 after having been granted a temporary, 3-year residency permit in 2006.

    One has to have been in possession of a TRP for at least 1 year before applying for an FRP.

    Before receiving my TRP, having received a work permit from the Ministry of the Interior, I used to have to leave Russia every year in order to receive a multi-entry, 1-year permit at a Russian consul of my choice. I always went to Russian consul in Estonia for a new visa: it’s the nearest to Moscow. However, visa regulations were constantly being changed and becoming so frustrating by 2006 that I decided to opt for a residency permit.

    Having received a TRP, one can apply for an FRP. Every 5 years, one has to apply for a 5-year extension of one’s full permit.

    I did this twice, then last May I forgot about the extension deadline date.

    One has to apply no less than 2 months before the termination of one’s so-called full residence permit.

    The bureaucrats refused my late extension application. My FRP became void. I had no documentation that allowed me to continue living in Russia.

    I have 3 children, all Russian citizens and, last year, all still at school.

    Up to May last year, I had paid Russian taxes for 25 years. I still have a Russian tax code, an INN, which for some reason did not lose its validity. I also still have my Russian “workbook”, the documentation that records my employment history. One needs an INN and a workbook to be legally employed: I was most certainly not an “illegal”.

    I had to appear in court last July, pay a 50,000 ruble fine for breach of administrative law and apply for a transit visa, without which I could not leave Russia — but I couldn’t stay there either.

    Before appearing in court, I had appealed. I had even appealed to the presidential office. Always the same reply: The rule is …

    I had to return to the UK, which I have only visited 5 times in the past 25 years, where I had then to apply for a visa so as to return to my wife and children, who, of course, received no support off me at the time because, with the annulment of my permit, I was forbidden to work in Russia.

    After having waited 1 month in the UK, I received a visa — a 3-month, single-entry one.

    Having arrived back in Russia, in September of last year I applied for an extension of that visa, which was finally granted me in November.

    Meanwhile, in October of last year, after having made 9 consecutive daily journeys to the “Multifunctional Migration Centre Moscow”, situated some 60 miles southwest of the capital, my application for a new, temporary 3-year permit was finally accepted.

    I received my new temporary permit in April of this year. After having been resident in Russia for 1 year following the granting me of a TRP, I can apply one again for a full residency permit. I should get my FRP some time next year.

    Before returning to Russia last September, besides having to acquire a visa, I had also to acquire an apostilled police records statement, proving that I had not been convicted for a serious crime, albeit that the authorities here knew that to be the case: in 2006 I had presented them which such a statement in order to receive my first TRP, following the receipt of which, and later the receipt of my FRP, I have never been convicted of any crime in Russia, the country where I have been resident since 1993.

    When applying for my new TRP in October of last year, I also had to undergo a series of medical tests to prove that I was not a syphilitic, that I was HIV negative, that I was not suffering from TB, hepatitis, that I was not mentally unstable, that I was not an alcoholic and that I was not a drug addict.

    Because of my age, it was not necessary for me to undergo a test of my Russian language skills and knowledge of the Russian constitution, legal system and history: such tests are compulsory if an applicant is younger than 65.

    All this so as to live with my wife and family and to earn an honest living, something which I had done for 25 years before my forgetting to renew my FRP on time last year.

    Fernandes, who missed that penalty last week, had never had to undergo such a bureaucratic nightmare, nor did Depardieu an Seagal, I am sure.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story. Bureaucratic silliness causes real pain to real people. Let’s hope you never have such trouble again.

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      1. On the other hand, when my wife previously applied for a British visa in order to make one of our rare visits to the UK, at the British Consulate and, later, at different outsourced UK visa establishments, she would be asked to give an exact itinerary of her proposed visit, give the addresses of places where she intended to stay, state how much money she intended to take with her, name her sponsor (the person or legal entity that had invited her to the UK) and what relationship, if any, she had with her sponsor. For the last two questions, she of course replied: Moscow Exile / husband.

        And this really used to bug me, for they knew her relationship to me, or it would have taken them minimal effort to find it out. After all, before we wed, I had to make an affidavit at the British Consulate in front of the British Consul that there was no impediment to my marrying my betrothed and I had to post marriage bans there. The affidavit had to be then translated into Russian and stamped by a notary and presented to the Russian Foreign Office. Then I received a document that allowed me to marry a Russian citizen, but only at the one registry office in Moscow designated for the marriage of a Russian citizen to a foreigner.

        One year, in 2007 if I rightly recall, when my wife was repeatedly being asked by some British Consulate nerd about her relationship to me and about when and where she had met me, I just blew my top and said to him: “Look, I didn’t pick this woman up at “Night Flight” on Tverskaya last Saturday night: she has been my wife for 10 years and is the mother of our 2 children, who are British citizens!!!”

        I realized, of course, why the bureaucrat was pressurizing her so: there is a big age difference between my wife and me, but I just got so pissed off with the whole thing.

        Two years ago, my wife applied for and received a 10-year visa. It cost a pretty penny, about £700 I think. I decided to stump up so much because I had just become so pissed off with the interrogations that my wife had to face when applying for a visa. I also thought that our visits to the UK would become more frequent, that perhaps my children might want to finish off their higher education in the UK. They haven’t: tmy children don’t want to do this and none of them is really all that enamoured with the UK.

        In any case, my wife won’t have to go through a visa application procedure for another 8 years and I might well have kicked the bucket before her 10-year visa validity expires, so if that happens and she wants to go to the UK for whatever reason, she won’t have to suffer in my absence any hassle off British bureaucrats.

        On December 29 last year, she and my 2 daughters went to the wedding of a niece of mine. I couldn’t go: my son didn’t want to. So my wife just bought the flight tickets on line and off she went with our daughters. No hassle whatsoever with her visa; my daughters, of course, have British passports.

        They were glad to be back in Russia for the Russian Christmas and Old New Year, though.

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  5. I agree with Paul that Russia would gain much and lose little. Possibly they could even offer a visa at the airports of entry (I know this is done in Nepal for example). As to reciprocity and “totally devoid of dignity, self-respect and any cognitive power” pooh to that I say. Russia is now in a position to do what benefits itself and let the others do what they want. Russia isn’t going to lose points with anyone who matters because it is magnanimous in victory

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >magnanimous in victory

      Good thing, that you are not a Russian citizen. I’m though. If the West says that they are at war with Russia, that they have to “contain” us, that we are their “adversary”, then it would be an utter folly to be “magnanimous” BEFORE the victory.

      Besides, your position is also individualistically liberal and, as such, irrelevant. Like Veruca Solt’s.

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  6. I understand the logic, but I don’t see what Russia gains from it. After all, Western states aren’t exactly lining up to liberalize their visa regimes just because Russia is playing tit-for-tat. All the policy achieves is that it deters people from visiting Russia. In this way, the Russians are shooting themselves in the foot.

    Good that you answered your own question.

    My grandmother has been refused a visa to visit the UK after Litvinenko, so I have great personal reasons to support Russia inconveniencing Westerners as much as possible too. Even though the liberal compradors would no doubt want Russia to bend over backwards for the Western masters whom they so slavishly worship.

    Of course Russia should work with friendly countries on visa liberalization, such as China.

    And it should also make it easier for qualified foreign workers to get citizenship (including dropping the requirement to drop their current citizenships – something that even Tajiks don’t have to do, as members of Eurasec), and adopt British style laws on buying citizenship to attract money from “politically persecuted” Western crooks. I want to see British politicians and journalists huff and puff about that.

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  7. It’s tottaly stupid for barbaric lands to create any troubles for man in a cork helmet if he in his incredible generosity deside to visit barbaric lands. On other hand, blessed land of cork helmet man must be careful with barbarians who crowded at the gates so any troubels are resonabe becuse permission is a blessing for a barbarian.
    And it is totaly resonable to cork helmet man to lesson barbarian chiefs and not his democratic goverment how to rule a border because he bring enlightement to barbaric lands/

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    1. “It’s tottaly stupid for barbaric lands to create any troubles for man in a cork helmet if he in his incredible generosity deside to visit barbaric lands. “

      By Jove! You put it most spiffingly right, old bean! Pip-pip and tally-ho!

      “On other hand, blessed land of cork helmet man must be careful with barbarians who crowded at the gates so any troubels are resonabe becuse permission is a blessing for a barbarian.”

      Bah, nothing but trouble from those Continental neo-barbs. Just look:

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  8. Visa liberalisation should be done on a reciprocal basis. That’s the only thing that makes sense.
    Russia also needs to ensure that economic migrants don’t uses visas to get into the country to disappear or claim asylum – this is an issue we have in the UK.
    We also live with terrorism people who will come to the country to do no good .

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  9. I have a friend with Russian passport, living (with the family) in central Europe, legal resident of a EU country. Her daughter goes to the British international school here. A couple of years ago the school was organizing a trip to England, and the daughter needed a visa (the UK isn’t in schengen). She applied, paid a significant fee, was rejected. No refund, of course. In addition, she says, filling out the online application was not a task for ordinary human beings. For an experienced lawyer, more like.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Here, professor. A handy guide for you (and your fellow liberals asking for such things) of how to write a proper chelobitnaya.

    0) Obligatory stuff – date (year must be since the Day of Creation, d’uh!)

    1) Start with the object of your address, not forgetting all the proper tutelage (this would be also another instance to check you on “Who’s Crimea?” test) and really, really respective tone.

    2) Then name yourself – in the most humblest, self-deprecating way possible. Yeah, Peter I abolished that, but – bah, humbug to those Westernizing influences, I say! So, in your case you have a wide range of how to call yourself: “Pavka”, “Pashka” or even “Pavluskha”. Just don’t forget to add “… your faithful kholop”.

    3) AFTER THAT, you might start mentioning things pertaining to your personal and familial status.

    4) In the text of your chelobitnaya, address your betters using “gosudar’” (“master”, “lord”). Correct adjectives are “(most) merciful”, “(most) faithful” etc.

    5) Shit flinging at other fellow kholops is not only allowed, but encouraged. Context is important, so that to point out how you report failings of the others only because they are harmful to your betters.

    6) Time for shameless self-promotion, when you list all good works both you and your relatives and ancestors did in the service to your betters.

    7) Hand in hand goes self-deprecation round 2, where you list all possible woes that will befell you in case you will be denied what you are asking for.

    8) Ask for forgiveness profoundly, due to your, obvious, mortal faults.

    9) Interject with some colourful Ye Russian/Englishe Olde words. Not “nonny-nonny, m’lord” though. Also – crank down all “forsooths”.

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      1. Of course! It keeps tabs on all of its important assets… comrade Paul! 😉

        [Or professor followed my advice and file a properely worded chelobitnaya]

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  11. An argument I haven’t seen here yet: I’m fairly certain that the majority of Russian citizens will be opposed to the decision you propose (although I don’t have statistical evidence). If put on a referendum, it’s unlikely to pass, so the move you propose is not democratic XD

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  12. “In addition, she says, filling out the online application was not a task for ordinary human beings. For an experienced lawyer, more like.”

    Being a citizen of a III world country I can tell you – it is more than that. Try to apply for a visa of any of the so called “liberal democracies” and you will find “you are not welcome” all over their visa applications. And this is the point and purpose of the whole process, Subject the applicant to as much humiliation as possible and most likely he or she will give up.

    Regards

    Like

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