Moscow’s visa centers of at least four European Union countries are issuing Schengen visas for Russians living in Crimea despite the EU official ban, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Friday.
While de jure members of the Schengen Area, comprising 26 European countries, refuse to issue visas to Russians in Crimea, de facto some countries issue these visas, the report said, citing a representative of one of Crimea's tourist agencies.
“The issue is not only about loyalty, but the payment of consular fees by the applicant and the economic environment in the accepting party play a great role. According to our information, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic make a compromise,” the representative told the newspaper.
Spokespersons for the visa centers of Italy and the Netherlands said applications of Russian citizens living in Crimea are considered in line with the established procedures and the process may take within three to 14 days.
Following Crimea’s annexation by Russia in March, the EU banned issue of all kinds of European visas, including Schengen, to Crimeans in the embassies and in the visa centers of EU countries on the Russian territory.
Brussels said Crimean citizens would be able to get visas only in Kiev and on condition that they have Ukrainian passports. On this basis, the diplomatic mission of the EU in Russia will not issue the visas to the residents of Crimea in Russian passports, the EU said.