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SBD Global/February 21, 2013/Olympics

No Visa-Free Sochi Winter Olympics In '14 As EU, Russia Fail To Find Compromise

An easing of visa requirements for Europeans "is unlikely even for next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, as officials from both Moscow and the EU insist on their positions," according to Nikolaus von Twickel of the MOSCOW TIMES. EU delegation spokesperson Soren Liborius said that a visa facilitation agreement "remains elusive as long as Moscow insists on a visa-waiver for government officials." An agreement guaranteeing certain professional groups like journalists and NGO workers long-term multiple entry visitors' visas "has been held up for more than a year since Moscow suddenly demanded to include visa-free travel for holders of so-called official passports." EU negotiators "have refused to discuss the issue, arguing that the number of passport holders remains unclear and that such passports, which are not diplomatic, do not exist in many EU member states" (MOSCOW TIMES, 2/19).
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