Russia Wants to Fingerprint All Foreigners Applying for Visas

MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – Fingerprinting will become mandatory for all foreigners seeking to enter Russia, a senior consulate official said Friday.

But the head of the Foreign Ministry’s consulate department, Yevgeny Ivanov, denied the move was tightening of visa rules.

“This is rather an element of modernization” of Russia’s visa policy, Ivanov told RIA Novosti in an interview.

The ministry posted a draft presidential order last month on fingerprinting of foreigners, which is yet to be signed.

The draft envisages a pilot fingerprinting program to kick off in July at Russian embassies and consulates in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Myanmar and Namibia, as well as at Vnukovo international airport in Moscow.

The ministry expects to make fingerprinting a mandatory procedure at all Russian embassies and consulates worldwide after the end of the pilot program, the date for which has not been set, Ivanov said.

The official said Russia is following the lead of the United States and Britain, which already fingerprint visa applicants, as well as the EU, which plans to start doing the same in 2015.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the EU, have long been locked in a tug-of-war over visa rules, with Russia unsuccessfully pushing for easing or cancelation of visa requirements for its citizens.

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