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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Visa scandal. Visas for Russian citizens. Thousands of them have been issued since the beginning of the war in Ukraine

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Despite the ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the Polish authorities have not stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens, although their number is decreasing every year. In 2022, when Russian aggression began, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued nearly 11,000 visas to Russians, while in the first half of this year, 2,362 visas were issued – according to data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In response to the visa scandal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement on Fridayin which it presented detailed statistical data on the issuance of visas to foreigners.

The table shows that the Polish state issued visas to Russian citizens also after that country launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Their number has decreased significantly over recent years, but residence permits for Russians in Poland are still numbered in thousands.

IN 2021 issued to citizens of the Russian Federation 31,297 visasincluding 9,177 Schengen visas* and 22,120 national visas*.

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IN 2022 – the same as the army Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine – issued to the Russians 10,974 visasincluding 2,228 Schengen visas and 8,746 national visas.

Data published by the Ministry of Diplomacy also include visas issued in first half of 2023. According to the table, by June 30 this year, Russians were issued 2,362 visasincluding 251 Schengen visas and 2,111 national visas.

Citizens of countries that received the most visas (excluding Ukraine and Belarus)gov.pl

* C visas – the uniform Schengen visa is valid in the area Schengen zone and entitles you to stay in the territory of all countries of this zone. The length of the stay or stays may not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period

* national type “D” visa entitles you to enter the territory of the Republic of Poland and to stay continuously or for several consecutive stays in this territory, which last in total longer than 90 days during the visa validity period and not longer than one year

Number of positive visa decisions for citizens of the Russian Federationgov.pl

In the announcement regarding the acceptance of visa applications on the government website, it was indicated that “due to a significant reduction in the number of diplomatic and consular staff and support staff in Polish consular offices in the Russian Federation, until further notice, these offices will not accept applications for Schengen visas and national visas under the existing rules. “.

“Currently, only applications from citizens of the Russian Federation submitted for humanitarian reasons, in urgent, particularly justified situations and when the interests of the Republic of Poland require it” – we read.

The Czech Republic stops issuing visas to Russians. With exceptions

After the explosion war in Ukraine some EU countries decided to suspend issuing visas to Russians. The Czech Republic made this decision the day after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In April this year, the Czech government extended the ban on issuing new visas and residence permits to citizens of Russia and Belarus until March 31, 2024.

The ban is in force from March 2022. The exceptions are, among others: humanitarian cases or family reunification. Currently, persons with dual citizenship (if one of them is Russian or Belarusian) are also unable to apply for a visa and residence permit in the Czech Republic, unless they qualify for one of the exceptions specified in detail in the Act.

Visa scandal

At the beginning of September, “Gazeta Wyborcza” wrote that the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Piotr Wawrzyk, then responsible for consular and visa matters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, turned out to be the author of the draft regulation on visa facilitations for temporary workers from about 20 countries, including Islamic countries. According to the newspaper, it assumed the possibility of employing up to 400,000 workers in Poland. The daily wrote that “unofficial information paints a picture of a corruption scandal that enabled the inflow of tens of thousands of immigrants to Europe through international recruitment companies.”

Visa scandal. What do we know so far?

August 31, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki dismissed Wawrzyk from the position of secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On Friday, the head of the Ministry of Diplomacy decided, among other things: on the conduct of an inspection and audit at the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all consular posts of the Republic of Poland, and on the dismissal of the director of the Legal and Compliance Management Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakub Osajda.

Read also: : “DW”: Germans concerned about the visa scandal. Berlin expects explanations from Poland

Investigations into irregularities in submitting visa applications are conducted by the prosecutor’s office Central Anticorruption Bureau. The opposition talks about corruption and claims that hundreds of thousands of documents issued arouse suspicion. The head of PO, Donald Tusk, called it “the biggest scandal of the 21st century in Poland.” So far, seven people have been arrested in the case.

Daniel Lerman, deputy director of the Department of Organized Crime and Corruption of the National Prosecutor’s Office, explained that the investigation concerns “paid protection in the acceleration of visa procedures in relation to several hundred visas and visa applications submitted over a year and a half.” – Of these several hundred visas, most of them were granted through refusal decisions – explained the prosecutor. He added that the procedure concerned applications for visas for foreigners to work in Poland.

Read also: Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding irregularities in the visa issuance process

On Friday, the National Prosecutor’s Office announced that the investigation into irregularities in issuing visas concerns 268 granted applications for accelerated issuance.

Main photo source: Wojciech Olkuśnik / Agencja Wyborcza.pl

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