The Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO has started collecting signatures from Russian citizens demanding an elimination of the visa regime between Russia and EU member states. This request shall be forwarded to the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Chairman of the European Commission Romano Prodi, heads of states and leader of parliaments of the European Community member states.
"Russia is a European country and we have the right to feel that we are fully-fledged representatives of European civilization," stated the initiators of the address.
The letter also runs, "We realise the concerns of a number of EU countries, but we think that these problems can be resolved. At the Russia-EU summit in St. Petersburg most participants agreed with the idea of eliminating the visa regime between Russia and the EU. Most importantly, the political will of the leaders is not lost in bureaucratic delays." The address also provides definite steps for the unification of legislation in Russia and EU: according to YABLOKO, implementation of these steps will make it possible to abolish the visa regime.
Already today Russian users of the Internet can sign the address at the official web-site of the YABLOKO party (http://www.bezviz.yabloko.ru/). A total of 450 people have already signed the address during the first hours since its publication. Since Monday, June 9, 2003, citizens who have to queue for a long time at embassies of EU member states to obtain visas will also be able to sign the petition.
The Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO thinks that the proposed measures can and should be adopted before the next Russia-EU summit scheduled for November 2003.
Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Vladimir Lukin proposes the introduction of a
visa-free regime for Russian and European students
Press release, May 20, 2003.