The importance of accessible tourist visas to balance our perception of Russia

A picture of a passport and plain tickets
The importance of accessible tourist visas to balance our perception of Russia
The Gordian: sign up and get our monthly magazine.

In February 2020, Russia announced that it would soon be offering a simplified and cheaper online visa application for tourists from EU countries.

If you were asked to describe Russia, your immediate thoughts may be of snow, bears and vodka. Unsurprisingly, Russia does contain all of those things. Think a little more and you might settle on political tension, corruption and the mafia. Unless you had visited, you probably would not envision the long summers in a cottage surrounded by countryside, LGBT activists, or a local taxi driver cracking jokes in elementary English. 

Visitors report of Art House cinema, the zero-waste movement and good old-fashioned hospitality being as much a part of Russia as Samovars and Russian dolls. The best way to offer an alternative point of view is to visit and form your own opinions. 

Russia: An elusive and unexplored destination

Russia is elusive as a tourist destination, despite sharing its land border with many countries from Central Asia to Central Europe. Trying to summarise Russia is as impossible as trying to sum up an entire continent. (It is actually bigger than the continent of Antarctica, and almost as big as South America). The world’s interest in Russia rises, falls, is demonised in the press, and romanticised in classic literature.

The imbalance of noisy headlines versus those able to see for themselves further damages our perception of scapegoated countries. There is often a patronising notion, alleging indoctrinated citizens oblivious and unable to think for themselves. Thanks to assumptions dressed as fact, this diminishes the amount of people who want to see Russia’s capital, Moscow, or cultural capital, St Petersburg – Both of these cities are pin pricks on Russia’s landscape, but let’s begin with these as they have the infrastructure for international tourists to easily enjoy them.

Tourist visas: paying and praying

Russian tourist visas currently require a considerable stack of papers, there is a lengthy application form and a visit required to the application center that involves queuing up, paying and praying. Often people pay an additional fee for the support of an agency. Traditional tourist visas can take weeks to process and cost more than the flight to Russia. However, this varies between application centers around the world. A simplified and cheaper alternative to this process is a welcome relief.

Many people are surprised to learn that Moscow is only around a 3-hour flight from London. It feels so much further, due the administration required to get there and the added cost of the traditional visa application process. There simply are not as many people talking about their short-haul flight to the Red Square last weekend. This should not be underestimated as a major barrier to questioning the image projected of Russia in the mainstream media.  

With the implementation of simplified and cheaper online visa applications for many citizens (this new process does not apply to citizens of the UK, US and Canada yet), I am optimistic that false and damaging portrayals of Russia and its people may be laughed at before they could be published. 

Tourism plays a major role in international relations

It is well known that tourism plays a major role in international relations. Getting to know another place and its people can contribute to peaceful resolutions. A significant experience as a tourist can melt prejudice and breed compassion, tolerance and understanding.

Russia is full of surprises and humour, Winston Churchill once famously described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” With a quick online visa application and increasingly competitive flight prices, does that not pique your curiosity to come and have an adventure? 

Take ownership of UN-aligned

Unlike most organisations, UN-aligned is, primarily, its members. We are the New United Nations and though just a drop in the ocean, for now, we will carry on growing until we will become a force to be reckoned with! The more of us there are, the more chance we have of achieving our aims. Help us by promoting membership to you friends or to people you think have similar values. If every member added another, membership would snowball and we would be unstoppable! We also need active members: people who roll up their sleeves and contribute to the work of the organisation. Some already have, for instance, by writing articles for The Gordian, or offering to help with proofreading.

No matter what you can do, we want you. Write to us with your talents and we’ll make it work. 


Meet The New Lady Justice

Welcome to the first issue of the 6 volume of The Gordian. It is largely accepted that Lady Justice’s blindfold symbolises impartiality, however, one cannot help comparing the blindfold to that of “blind” Fortune, whose largess is purely random. How else can there be so much injustice in the world? We say no more: Meet our new Lady Justice. This issue offers the usual mix of politics, interviews, culture, and galleries by our UN-aligneders across the world, including Ruby Goldenberg, Carla Pietrobattista, Katharina Wüstnienhaus, Atika Harba, Kaitlyn Rivera, Anahita Ahmadi, Partho Pratim Chatterjee, Sailaja S.P and Aryan Yekrangi. The editors are Adrian Liberto and Ariana Yekrangi.

Subscribe to the The Gordian magazine and more...

The Gordian is the official UN-aligned magazine. It is a round-up of global news, opinions and long reads accompanied by striking photography. It also keeps you updated about UN-aligned’s progress and impact in the real word.

We promise not to spam your inbox.  Find how we use your information.

Or become a free member.

Get The Gordian sent right to your email...
UN-aligned magazine is a round-up of global news, opinions and long reads accompanied by striking photography and insightful companion pieces.
We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

UN-aligned uses cookies to make this website better.