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Poland, Baltics Impose Entry Bans On Most Russians With EU Visas.

Russian citizens with a Schengen visa for tourism, business, sports, or cultural purposes are now blocked from entering Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. (illustrative photo)

Russian citizens with a Schengen visa for tourism, business, sports, or cultural purposes are now blocked from entering Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. (illustrative photo)

Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were scheduled to begin enforcing a ban on access to their countries for most Russians with EU visas on September 19, moving all four beyond the curbs recently agreed by all 27 EU members.

Russian citizens with a Schengen visa for tourism, business, sports, or cultural purposes are now blocked from all four of those countries' territory.

Switzerland also said it was suspending simplified visa procedures for Russians beginning the same day.

A joint statement by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland earlier this month cited increasing security and other concerns at a "substantial and growing influx" of Russians amid the fallout from Russia's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Poland and the Baltic states said their respective bans on the national level were "not an outright entry ban and commonly agreed legitimate exceptions will remain in force for dissidents, humanitarian cases," and a handful of other circumstances including Russian diplomatic missions and familial links.

The EU's members debated a near-complete ban on Russian visitors in August, with Germany and France arguing such a move would be counterproductive and Nordic and Baltic states leading the proponents.

On August 31 the EU suspended its visa-facilitation agreement with Russia as a "necessary first step."

Russian authorities have criminalized many public and even private expressions of dissent against the invasion, even from abroad, and tightened measures against the media and NGOs.

Tens of thousands of Russians have left the country since the invasion began in late February, possibly to evade official strictures or to escape the unprecedented financial, airspace, trade, and other international sanctions put in place in the West.

With reporting by dpa

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