MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. So far, Russia has no plans to include the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom into the list of countries, whose citizens can apply for a Russian e-visa, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Ivanov, told the Kommersant daily on Wednesday.
"The decision to include this or that particular country into the list was made after considering numerous factors, including a country’s visa policy regarding Russian citizens," he said.
When asked whether tourist visa requirements could be eased for residents of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the Russian diplomat replied; "There are no plans to introduce changes into the list so far at this stage, but this does not mean that such a possibility is ruled out in the future, on the condition of a normal visa dialogue with the countries that you have mentioned."
Ivanov went on to say that the visa issue is among the strongest irritants in Russian-US relations at the moment.
"At present, more than 60 Russian Foreign Ministry employees, appointed to work in the United States, have been waiting to receive the US visa for months. Some of them [have already waited] for more than two years," he said.
"We have long been making calls to the United States to bring the visa process back to normal, but Washington has so far expressed no such desire," he said, recalling the September 2019 controversy when the United States failed to issue visas to a group of Russian officials supposed to take part in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
In 2019, Russia introduced electronic visas for tourists from 53 countries arriving to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, as well as to Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad Region. A request for an e-visa can be filed on a special website four days before the planned arrival. The visa is granted free of charge.
In 2020, electronic visas are set to be introduced in Karelia, the Altai Region and the Krasnodar Region. As of January 1, 2021, electronic visas will be valid on all Russian territory.