No need to give Schengen to all Russians, but dissidents should be helped to leave the Russian Federation – MEP Lagodinsky

The EU has submitted for discussion a draft ban on the issuance of Schengen visas to Russians, said German Cabinet spokesman Steffen Hebeshtreit. As Sergei Lagodinsky, a member of the European Parliament, told The Insider, there is no consensus on this issue in the German Cabinet. He does not exclude that a compromise solution will be adopted.

The European MP suggested that Brussels had not yet prepared a similar proposal for inclusion in the seventh package of sanctions. Such measures have been discussed for a long time, but now the question has been raised - what else to come up with to put pressure on Russia.

“Many countries, as you know, have either already adopted such sanctions or would like to accept them, especially countries bordering Russia. We see that there are such reports in Finland, they even try to bring some sanctioned goods across the border in person. In this case, these nation states can decide on their migration policy within certain limits, but at the level of the European Union, in my opinion, the legal framework for this is very narrow, so it will be very difficult to find a common denominator.”

According to Lagodinsky, such sanctions raise the question of how it is possible to influence not “some oligarchs and people on the lists,” but the entire Russian community, which, even with inaccurate or falsified statistics, supports the war or is silent about what is happening. The search for leverage in this case is absolutely understandable, the deputy notes. He stressed that now “work is underway” with many oppositionists and those who want to leave or are already moving from Russia so that they are not imprisoned, their children are not taken away from them, because they “resist this regime and criticize the war.”

Lagodinsky believes that there is a "big moral dilemma" in the EU in this regard:

“Despite the fact that I understand the impulse of the Ukrainians, who are subject to all these crimes and horror, from which the hair of all of us moves, it seems to me that all bridges against Putin’s opponents inside Russia should not be burned in this way.”

Speaking about a recent interview with Volodymyr Zelensky in the Washington Post, Lagodinsky said:

“I do not believe that we have the moral right to condemn the statements and positions of Ukrainian politicians and citizens at the moment. My opinion is completely irrelevant here. I understand what motivates this position. As a Jewish immigrant in Germany, I understand perfectly well, and yet I have parallels with the situation before and after 1945 - as a people-victim, people-addressee of crimes, something good to say about the collective that committed these crimes. No one has the right to force anyone to do this, however, we are solving these issues not as the Ukrainian side, but as the side of the European Union, and we have a completely different legal framework here. We have a different emotional approach, and we have a different legitimacy in our decisions, so I prefer not to condemn such proposals in any way, to understand them, but at the same time, this does not mean that we should adopt all these proposals one-to-one” .

According to him, now it is necessary to support the Ukrainian side in their legitimate struggle, for example, to supply Ukraine with even more weapons. At the same time, it is necessary to support the Baltic countries, if they believe that they need to accept such a border regime, then it is necessary to look for some approaches. However, at the EU level, it is still not possible to adopt such sanctions now and there is no need for them, the deputy says, emphasizing that this is his personal opinion.

Until now, most politicians in Germany and Europe have assumed that it is necessary to achieve a change in the behavior of the regime through targeted sanctions, Lagodinsky continues. At the same time, support, especially of the opposition, has always been the main element and core of Germany's policy towards Russian society. He recalled that recently, at the initiative of the country, a European Parliament resolution was adopted to support Alexei Navalny, it was supported by all countries and all representatives of civil society who protest against the war and against the regime. Therefore, the indiscriminate position that they also do not want to see those who are against Putin and give them the opportunity to come to the EU is strange.

The deputy believes that countries need to "work in conjunction." According to him, tourist visas really should not be issued so easily, but at the same time, it is necessary to expand and speed up the humanitarian corridor for "dissenters and opposition representatives" from Russia.

“So far, I do not see that European countries are somehow accelerating and improving this process. In Germany, we have made certain improvements, while in other countries, such as the Czech Republic, they are talking about stopping issuing visas. Do they issue humanitarian visas in an easy way for the opposition? I haven't heard of such a thing. If we can do this together, then there is at least some kind of legitimate position and some kind of solution that may suit all parties.”

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with The Washington Post that Western countries should ban all Russians from entering their territory, as well as expel Russian citizens so that they “change their philosophy.” This was followed by a statement about the ban on only tourist visas from the Prime Minister of Estonia, and the head of the Czech Foreign Ministry, Jan Lipavsky, advocated the complete suspension of Schengen visas for Russian citizens. He said he would call for this during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague at the end of August. But the European Commission (EC) clarified that the EU visa code does not provide for the termination of the issuance of short-stay visas throughout the EU. The official representative of the commission, Ariana Podesta, once again confirmed that a ban on issuing visas to Russians is impossible. According to her, the European Commission is ready to consider the issue of introducing new sanctions against Russia, but does not comment on any possible restrictions on the issuance of short-term visas to Russians.

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