Czechs tighten entry rules for Russian tourists, join other EU states

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PRAGUE, Oct 12 (Reuters) – The Czech Republic will refuse Russian tourists holding Schengen zone visas issued by any country from October 25, the foreign minister said on Wednesday as she joined to other Member States of the European Union to tighten entry rules.

EU countries had balked at enacting a visa ban for Russians in late August when the bloc agreed to implement a stricter process. Since then, countries bordering Russia, such as the Baltic States, as well as Finland and Poland, have banned Russian tourists.

The Czech Republic immediately suspended visas for Russians, except for humanitarian reasons, after Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. But it had allowed visitors into airports who had visas issued by other countries in the EU’s Schengen travel zone.

The tougher rules, approved by the government on Wednesday, mean even those with EU visas from other states will not be allowed entry.

“As Russian rockets fall on a children’s playground and on Ukrainians, up to 200 citizens of the Russian Federation are traveling to the Czech Republic via international airports every day,” said Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky.

The ban will affect Russians holding visas for tourism, sports or culture, Lipavsky said. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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