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Russia’s Rights Record Delays Visa-Free Travel

Published: January 22, 2014 (Issue # 1794)



  • The E.U. visa-free regime for Russia would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed in the country.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Jan. 17, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed.

The meeting came shortly after the EU decided to cut short a planned meeting with Russian leaders in Brussels later this month, a move which observers have attributed to an ongoing spat over Ukraine.

Visa-Free Visits Floated For Airline Transit Passengers

Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the meeting on Jan. 17 of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council was more about preserving ties than anything else.

“We are trying not to turn our relations completely sour and maintain a certain level of dialogue,” Konovalov said after meeting with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, adding that the EU was not willing to take further steps in the dialogue for a visa-free regime with Russia.

Konovalov added that Russia was not going to pressure the EU over the visa deal. “We have a feeling that our colleagues in the EU are not committed and do not feel a need to eliminate the barriers between Russia and the EU,” he said.

Visa Rules Eased for Foreign Investors

Negotiations about the visa-free regime have been ongoing for more than ten years, and Russia has accused the EU of deliberately delaying the process on several occasions. In December, Russia said it had prepared a visa agreement and that it hoped the EU would sign it at the next Russia-EU summit, which has now been shortened from two days to a few hours on Jan. 28.

At the request of the EU, the summit, which is usually held over two days with numerous meetings, will consist solely of a working dinner in Brussels on Jan. 28 between President Vladimir Putin, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Relations between Russia and the EU hit a rough patch after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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