Latvian embassy in Moscow says only exception for those attending close relative

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Latvian embassy in Moscow says only exception for those attending close relative

The Latvian embassy in Moscow will only make exceptions for those attending the funeral of a close relative.

The Latvian Embassy in Russia announced on Thursday that it had stopped accepting visa applications from Russian citizens for an indefinite period. The diplomatic mission said in a tweet that the only exception would be made for those who applied for entry to attend the funeral of a close relative. A similar announcement was posted on the website of the Latvian visa center in Moscow.

Its spokeswoman told RIA Novosti that issuing visas had been suspended the day before.

The move tightens other measures on Russian citizens in the spring after Moscow launched its military offensive against Ukraine, and Latvian authorities have not stated the reasons behind the decision.

At the time, Riga announced that it would stop processing all tourist visas. Russians were still allowed to apply for long-term employment and journalist visas, as well as to request entry on humanitarian grounds. Similar restrictions were imposed by some other EU member states, such as Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

On Thursday, Latvian news outlet Delfi reported that the government of Latvia planned to follow a recommendation by the State Security Service to make visa applicants from Russia and Belarus subject to additional security background checks.

On July 30, the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics called for an EU-wide ban on issuing tourist visas for Russians.

Urmas Reinsalu's Estonian colleague, Urmas Reinsalu, proposed a total EU visa ban for citizens of Russia. Poland has previously considered doing this, but in a recent comment by Deutsche Welle, Germany said that the issuance of Schengen visas can only be stopped on the basis of consensus among all Schengen countries, and there is no such decision at the moment.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said in July on Schengen visa ban proposals, that Moscow hoped the EU would show common sense. He did not rule out actions of an emotional nature.