Starting next year, citizens of 53 countries will be able to apply for free and simplified electronic visas to visit Russia.

Yevgeny Ivanov, Deputy Foreign Minister, reportedly told Russian newspaper Kommersant the 16-day e-visas will go into effect 1 January 2021 for citizens of the European Union and different countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

The offer will be open to citizens from countries including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico and Singapore, among others. 

According to The Moscow Times, Ivanov said US, British and Canadian passport holders are not yet eligible for the free e-visas due to geopolitical friction.

In the interview, Ivanov reportedly pointed to cases of Russian diplomats waiting up to two years to get visas to the US as an example of a grievance.

“The decision to include a particular country in the list was made taking into account a number of factors, including their visa policy toward Russian citizens,” Ivanov was quoted as saying.

“Any adjustment of the list is not expected at this stage,” he added.

The Moscow Times reports President Vladimir Putin has promised to offer e-visas to foreign visitors starting in 2021 as he vies to collect $15.5 billion in annual tourism revenue by 2024.

Tourists around the world have frequently cited difficulties with obtaining visas as a barrier to visiting Russia.

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