According to the Agreement, visa fees have been aligned to 35 € and a decision on whether or not to issue a visa will have to be taken as a rule within 10 days. The document eases contacts between people, an important condition for a steady development of economic, humanitarian, cultural, scientific and other ties, by facilitating the issuing of visas to the citizens of Russia and the EU on the basis of reciprocity.
Athletes, accredited officials and media are set to benefit from the increased accessibility and authorization should Sochi’s Olympic dream become a reality. Each individual possessing a valid Olympic identity, accreditation card and passport will be authorized to enter and remain in the Russian Federation one month prior to and one month after the Games to perform their Olympic and Paralympic functions.
Signed by the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the President of the European Commission Jos Manuel Barroso on May 25th, 2006, during the EU-Russia Summit in Sochi, the Agreement significantly facilitates access for athletes and media to Russia. After being ratified by the Federal Assembly of Russia in February 2007, the Russian President Vladimir Putin put his signature under the Law to ratify the Visa Facilitation Agreement a month later, on March 10th, 2007.
Conclusion to the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the European Community on the facilitation of the issuance of visas to the citizens of the Russian Federation and the European Union has been approved by the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on April 19th, 2007.
Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for freedom, security and justice Franco Frattini commented: "I’m satisfied with the completion of the ratification procedures with a view to a simultaneous entry into force of the agreements before the summer holidays. This agreement will facilitate traveling for many EU and Russian citizens."
Reaffirming the intention to establish the visa-free travel regime between the Russian Federation and the European Union, the Visa Facilitation Agreement eases the procedures for issuing short-stay visas for a number of categories of citizens of Russia and of the EU, including participants in international sports events and persons accompanying them in a professional capacity. Journalists, business people, persons participating in scientific, cultural and artistic activities, including university and other exchange programmes, pupils, students, post-graduate students and accompanying teachers will fall under the action of the Agreement.
In order to secure rapid implementation of the Visa Facilitation Agreement, a joint committee will be set up, which will monitor the process. In 2005, Russia was the third country where the highest number of Schengen visas was issued. Of a total number of 8.2 million Schengen visas issued (all categories considered), 1.8 million were issued in Russia (21.9%).