During his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) annual summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought a visa-free travel agreement between India and Russia.
In a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Uzbek summit, Modi and Putin emphasised that India’s rich history and ancient culture have always piqued the Russian people’s interest.
Russia’s official news agency TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin said;
“We propose accelerating the process of negotiations towards an agreement on visa-free tourist travel.”
During the talks, Modi noted that Moscow and New Delhi have had a long relationship and thanked Putin for helping to evacuate thousands of Indian students from Ukraine after Russian troops launched a “special military operation” against the neighbouring country in February.
It is worth noting that, while in Mumbai last week, Alina Arutyunova, deputy chairman of the Moscow metropolis tourism committee, stated that Russia may introduce visa-free entry for Indian tourist groups.
“The President of the Russian Federation has supported an initiative to introduce a visa-free regime for group tourists. Such an order has already been received for Iran on Tuesday. It’s possible that the same assignment will soon be for India,” she said.
According to Arutyunova, Turkey, Germany, and India are the top three non-CIS countries that send the most visitors to Russia.
Despite the ongoing conflict, over 13,000 Indians visited Moscow in the first half of 2022, and foot traffic is expected to return to pre-Covid levels by the end of 2023, according to data shared by the Moscow City Tourism Committee.
e-Visa For India and 51 Other Countries
Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed a proposal to eliminate visa requirements for groups of international tourists. In addition, 52 countries, including India, would have access to a streamlined online application process for e-visas.
It may be noted that In July 2022, Russia lifted the ban on issuing e-visas to travellers from 52 countries including India.
The ban on issuing e-Visas was imposed in March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, the Russian administration stated that this was an exceptional and temporary action.