Friday, 2 May 2008
Moscow visa chaos was avoidable
In June 2007 EU countries with the exception of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark signed a visa facilitation agreement streamlining procedures and instigating reciprocal visa arrangements with Russia. Had the UK not suspended negotiations to enter into this agreement, then the furore regarding Champions League Final tickets would not be occurring.
Admittedly, since the events of Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I have become less sympathetic than I might otherwise have been to supporters who wish to attend what promises to be the dreariest European final ever. Nevertheless it is indicative of patronising attitudes to Russia that on one hand the Russian Embassy is urged to ease visa requirements, or indeed suspend them altogether, whilst on the other Russian fans who wish to watch Zenit St Petersburg play Rangers in Manchester’s UEFA Cup Final are expected to supply biometric information and perhaps to undergo interview.
Supporters seeking visas to attend the Moscow final now must process their requests through the Russian National Tourist Office. On a personal note this is a relief as I have a tourist visa to negotiate from the Embassy for late June and the last thing I need is it being swamped in applications from Mancs and Rent Boys.