Kaliningrad residents will have to obtain so-called simplified visas to travel via Lithuania
A special agreement between Russia and Lithuania pertaining to the Kaliningrad enclave started working on July 1st. According to the agreement, one will have to get simplified visas to travel to the Kaliningrad region. Preparations for this event started in advance. Mass media outlets have been presenting this fact as outstanding progress, although it is not clear, whose progress it actually is. Lithuanian authorities have already issued 15,000 visas for Russians and refused only twice. Russian airline Aeroflot introduced a new tariff, which would not be profitable for the company - one can fly to Kaliningrad for only 500 rubles (less than $20).
Presidential envoy for Kaliningrad region affairs Dmitry Rogozin left for an inspection visit from Kaliningrad to Moscow. Rogozin is intended to see, to which extent the agreements between Russia and Lithuania are efficient. If there are no problems as a result of the visit, Dmitry Rogozin is intended to ask the president to relieve him of his authorities as an envoy in Kaliningrad. One shall assume that there will not be any problems: Lithuanian president's envoy for the problems of the Kaliningrad enclave Gedeminas Kirkilas, chairman of the Kaliningrad Railway Viktor Budovsky are travelling together with Mr. Rogozin. In addition to it, Dmitry Rogozin has recently told reporters that his mission was about to end.
However, common Kaliningrad residents are certain that they will have to face a lot of various problems. Regnum news agency reported, an action of protest took place in Kaliningrad in front of the Southern railway station several days ago. People protested against new rules to travel via the Lithuanian republic. Protesters held up officials to shame, because they had promised visa free conditions for Russian people, but signed different agreements instead.
The queue to obtain Lithuanian visas already counts more than 1,000 people. Yet, Moscow officials say that they have fulfilled their mission about the visa free transit. Lithuanian Consul General in Kaliningrad Vitautas Zhalis puts the blame on Russia: "Let my colleagues from the Russian Foreign Ministry and from the regional government explain to people, why it is happening so." In fact, they have already explained that everything is fine.