For me, the more insane the idea – the more interesting it is to implement it. Today we have launched another rather insane project, which we have long dreamed of, thought about and will do our best now to make it a reality: we are launching a campaign to partially abolish visa requirement for Russian citizens for travel to Schengen countries! We have set up this website to explain our ideas, and to gather signatures for a petition: visam.net
What we want:
We want young Russians, between 18 and 25 years to be able to visit Europe for 10 days within six months without visa. And allow young people from Europe the same freedom when coming to Russia.
Why we want this:
Currently, it it is difficult for Russian citizens to get a Schengen visa. The process takes too long and it is too expensive. As a result, a lot of young people are dissuaded from traveling to Europe, even if they have enough money to do so. Partially because of visa difficulties, more than 75% of Russians never travelled abroad at all, and most of those who did are from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Seen from Europe, the situation isn’t much better: to get a Russian visa you need an invitation, pay a hefty consular fee, and wait a minimum of two weeks. We hope that by relaxing visa requirements form young Europeans and Russians, we can allow them to get to know each other, and to understand each other’s perspectives.
In the heads of those youngsters who have never been to Europe (the older generation is an altogether separate question) there are heaps of stereotypes about the European life and people. With many Russian TV-stations reporting grotesque horror stories about Europe, young people who have never been there will easy believe them. Europeans know even less about Russia – Putin, vodka, a balalaika and a sickened “Na zdorovie!” – that’s the whole set of knowledge about us in the head of the average young European. But all this can change.
The borders need to be erased. Sooner or later, humanity will come to this anyway and there will be no borders in the world. Of course, we will not live to see these times, but for the sake of future generations, we must take these important steps. Communication, sharing knowledge, learning new cultures and languages, discovering new worlds – only this can overcome hatred and stop wars!
Support our campaign. Sign the petition on our website, share the link in social networks, tell your friends and join our project in your country!
It’s time to erase borders! The time has come! visam.net
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Nikolay Artemenko is the Federal Coordinator of the Russian Youth Democratic Movement «Vremya». He lives in St Petersburg, Russia.