Home Essential support Close the door to Russian tourists – POLITICO

Close the door to Russian tourists – POLITICO


Dmytro Kuleba is the Ukrainian Foreign Minister.

Since Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested Banning Russian tourists from traveling to Europe and beyond about a week ago, the idea gained momentum within the European Union, while sparking heated debate.

Simply put, Russian tourists, business people and students should be banned from traveling to the EU and G7 countries. It is an appropriate response to Russia’s genocidal war of aggression.

“But why punish ordinary Russians? some ask. Because an overwhelming majority of them support this war, applaud the killing of Ukrainian civilians, praise the missile strikes on Ukrainian cities and deny Russian war crimes.

And while the legal responsibility for the crimes committed is, indeed, individual, there is also a common social responsibility that all Russians should bear for the horrors that have been inflicted on Ukraine.

Yet the massive popular support in Russia for the war is a sad reality that not all European leaders seem ready to appreciate.

For example, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz continues to cling to his concept of “Putin’s war”. But Germans know better than anyone that common social responsibility exists, that assuming common guilt is the only way to overcome the common mistakes of the past. Germans have borne the guilt for what their country did in World War II for generations.

But the Russians haven’t even started. In fact, they go in the opposite direction. Let’s take off the rose-colored glasses and wake up to the reality of Russian fascism. To blame only President Vladimir Putin is dangerously naïve. Russia will not change until generations of Russians take common responsibility and guilt for what their country has done.

It is therefore imperative that all EU and G7 countries stop issuing tourist visas to Russians as a first step, to sober them up.

They must be denied the right to cross international borders until they learn to respect them.

It is true, of course, that a small minority of Russians oppose Putin and the war on Ukraine. Some of them risk being persecuted at home and must retain the possibility of seeking asylum. I am confident that all necessary procedures for the few vulnerable people will remain in place.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Likewise, entry for humanitarian reasons should also remain possible. But tourism and non-essential travel must stop now. The Russians who support the war will only have to decide: do they want to destroy Europe or spend a holiday there?

It is important to understand that those who support aggression against Ukraine, with the use of missiles and tanks, also support Russia’s aggression against Europe and the West by militarizing energy to trigger rising gas prices and inflation, fomenting political instability.

A Russian tourist taking a smiling selfie at the Brandenburg Gate or the Eiffel Tower is most likely someone who also adores Putin and wants Europeans to freeze this winter.

Take, for example, Russian pop star Philip Kirkorov who, accompanied by propaganda media, visited a military hospital in occupied Crimea to support wounded Russian soldiers, shortly before traveling to Las Vegas and Monaco to enjoy sumptuous holidays.

People like him retain their right to hypocrisy thanks to the misleading narrative of ‘Putin’s war’.

Such Orwellian doublethink is essential for any dictatorship, and Russian whataboutism is a crucial part of this double reality. For example, while Putin’s supporters may want Russia to be a world power, they simultaneously support policies that lead it to North Korea-like isolation. Although they want everyone to respect them, they themselves are disrespectful to others. And even though they can talk for hours about American wars, they support their own country’s invasion of Ukraine without even trying to create a casus belli.

Experiencing such a double reality is quite common for Russians – generations did just that in the Soviet Union. And Russia has never come to terms with its totalitarian past. He never assumed guilt for Soviet crimes after the collapse of the USSR. A poll conducted by the Levada Center last year showed that around 60% of Russians still have a positive opinion of Stalin. It is therefore not surprising that modern Russian propaganda has managed to split Russian minds in two so easily.

Russian musician Philip Kirkorov | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

And no other subject reveals Russian doublethink better than the attitude of its citizens towards Europe. They somehow manage to envy the well-being of Europeans and hate it at the same time. They like to humiliate European values ​​and fantasize about the imminent collapse of Europe, but they prefer to spend their holidays in Biarritz and send their offspring to school in London.

This double standard cannot last and banning their tourist trips will put an end to the ambiguity. Having it both ways shouldn’t be an option.

There is also a very practical side to this debate in terms of security. Russians are at high risk for hate crimes and conflict, especially now, when they are brainwashed daily with aggressive propaganda. They are already known for their notorious behavior in resorts and global tourist spots, but now those risks are even higher. Denying them will increase safety and reduce crime.

Tourism is an achievement of peace and humanity. Belligerent nations that break international peace must lose access to the privileges of peaceful coexistence.

This is exactly why, at the end of April, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) suspended Russia by an overwhelming majority of votes, far exceeding the required two-thirds threshold.

Following the vote, UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and UNWTO members must uphold these values ​​or suffer the consequences.” , without exception. This Emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO.

Ukraine is now actively working with EU and G7 partners to persuade them to refuse Russian tourists. We see it as one of the most effective personal sanctions against Russia. Unlike some other restrictive measures, it costs next to nothing, enhances security, requires no additional legislation and sends a strong signal to all Russians. He says Putin and his followers have closed Russia’s door to Europe.