Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended simplified visa rules for officials and journalists from “unfriendly” European nations in retaliation for sanctions imposed over Ukraine.
Moscow has been hit by a barrage of punishing Western sanctions that have battered the Russian economy since it ordered its troops into Ukraine.
The decree “on retaliatory visa measures in connection with the unfriendly actions of foreign states” was “based on the need to take urgent measures in response”, according to the text published by the Kremlin.
The new measures see visa exemptions ditched for official delegations from EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
It tightened up the process for submitting documents and scrapped simplified procedures for multiple-entry visas for officials and journalists.
The decree also instructed the foreign ministry and other agencies to decide on introducing individual entry restrictions for foreign citizens “who conduct unfriendly actions against Russia”.
Moscow last month expanded the list of what it calls “unfriendly” countries in response to Western sanctions, adding all 27 EU nations, the United States and Britain.
The EU has imposed sanctions on a sweeping array of Russian officials including Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and banned airlines from the country.
The bloc has also banned broadcasts by Russian state outlets RT and Sputnik, accusing them of being part of the Kremlin’s “manipulation operation”.