Journalists, members of the opposition or representatives of civil society are finding it increasingly difficult in Russia. The federal government now wants to make it easier for particularly endangered representatives to enter the country.

The federal government has agreed on regulations for the uncomplicated admission of Russians who are considered particularly endangered in their home country.

“Russia’s increasingly brutal aggression against Ukraine is being accompanied by ever-increasing internal repression, especially against the press, against human rights activists and members of the opposition,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the German Press Agency on Monday. First, the newspapers of the Funke media group reported on the new regulation. “We offer Russians who are being persecuted and threatened protection in Germany,” explained the SPD politician. “And we will give Russian journalists in particular the opportunity to report freely and independently from Germany.” There is now a procedure for quick and unbureaucratic admission that will make entry easier and accelerate procedures. “Of course, people we take in like this will be checked by the security authorities.”

Against “infamous lies”

Faeser also justified the regulations with reference to the information policy of the Russian government in the war of aggression against Ukraine. «The Kremlin is trying to justify its criminal war with infamous lies, by reversing the perpetrators and victims and by distorting history. This shows the fundamental importance of free and independent reporting, which can still reach the Russian population.”

According to a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, the general entry conditions should continue to apply to Russians, according to which they can enter and stay in the country with a passport. Depending on the purpose of your stay, a visa may also be necessary, for example for Russian professionals who want to work here.

In particular, members of the opposition or other endangered persons such as journalists, who are currently considered to be particularly endangered in Russia, have the possibility in individual cases of obtaining a visa and finding longer-term admission via a regulation in the Residence Act. This is then justified with the “preservation of political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany”.

Approval already for 16 Russian citizens

The procedure provides for the Minister of State for Culture and Media, Claudia Roth (Greens), and the Federal Foreign Office to vote on people for admission. The Federal Ministry of the Interior issues a confirmation of admission after an accelerated procedure, which also includes a review by the security authorities. The Ministry of the Interior has already given its approval to the Federal Foreign Office for 16 Russian nationals, including their families. In the end, the German embassy issues a visa for Germany.

Individual threat is a prerequisite for admission to Russia because of political persecution. The admission can also include close family members and, if necessary, also from countries other than Russia. The groups in question include human rights defenders at particular risk with links to Germany, as well as representatives and supporters of the democratic opposition who have publicly opposed the Russian attack on Ukraine. In addition, people who have worked for or worked with organizations that are considered “foreign undesirable organizations” in Russia, or people who are classified as “foreign agents” and who have a connection to Germany through their previous work should also benefit .

It is also about representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society who have a connection to Germany and who have also opposed the war in a special way. The same applies to journalists from independent media, who face reprisals and threats in Russia, particularly for their critical reporting. They should be given the opportunity to continue reporting from Germany. Journalists who publicly opposed the Russian war or were fired because of their critical reporting in state-controlled media, as well as scientists who publicly opposed the war and are no longer able to practice their science freely and independently should be admitted in this way .