Zelenskiy: EU should not be a “supermarket” for rich Russians

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a fresh call on Friday for European Union states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a “supermarket” open to anyone with the means to enter.

Zelenskiy said his proposal did not apply to Russians who needed help for risking their freedom or their lives by resisting Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s policies.

“There must be guarantees that Russian killers or accomplices of state terror not use Schengen visas,” Zelenskiy said in a nightly address, referring to visas granting the holder access to the border-free Schengen Area that spans several EU states.

“Secondly, we must not destroy the very idea of Europe – our common European values. Europe must therefore not be transformed into a supermarket where it is not important who walks in and where the main thing is that people just pay for their goods.”

Zelenskiy first urged a visa ban in an interview this week with the Washington Post, saying Russians should live in their own world until they changed their philosophy.

Zelenskiy’s appeal has yet to win support from the EU’s major players. But he said he was heartened by support from the ex-Soviet Baltic states and the Czech Republic, current rotating EU president. Finland has also backed the notion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced Zelenskiy’s appeal this week, saying “any attempt to isolate Russians or Russia is a process that has no prospects”.

The Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Friday that a blanket ban on visas for all Russian travellers could be the bloc’s next sanction on Moscow.

“The flat halting of Russian visas by all EU member states could be another very effective sanction,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said in a statement.

He said he would propose the idea at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague at the end of August.

“In a time of Russian aggression, which the Kremlin keeps on escalating, there cannot be talks about common tourism for Russian citizens,” said Lipavsky.

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