Czechs say no visas for Russians fleeing call-up

The Czech Republic said Thursday it would not issue humanitarian visas to Russians fleeing their homeland to avoid mobilisation, taking a different stance than some of its European Union peers.

Russians have been rushing to find a way out of the country since President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday decided to mobilise 300,000 people for its war in Ukraine.

“I understand that Russians are fleeing from the increasingly desperate decisions taken by Putin,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said in a statement obtained by AFP.

“But those who are running away from their country because they do not want to fulfil a duty imposed by their own state do not meet the criteria for receiving humanitarian visas,” he added.

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, stopped issuing visas to Russians a day after the invasion, but later introduced an exception for humanitarian cases.

Unlike the Czechs, Germany said Thursday it was willing to take some Russians fleeing the call-up.

“Deserters threatened with serious repression can as a rule obtain international protection in Germany,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.