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Visa-free travel and financial aid to top EU-Russia summit

brussels bureau

Visa-free travel and financial aid to top EU-Russia summit


Financial aid and visa-free travel will dominate talks when EU and Russian leaders meet in Brussels later this week.

Moscow has said it may provide cash, via the IMF, to ease Europe’s debt crisis.

An open border deal between the EU and Russia’s Baltic territory of Kalingrad, and possibly Russia itself, is also expected but Russia’s recently disputed poll will not feature, officials said.

“I don’t see any time to discuss the elections, they are already in the past,” said Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the EU.

“We’ll talk about the current issues affecting the strategic partnership between Russia and the EU. Firstly, that means negotiation on a new framework agreement and secondly progress on visa-free travel,’‘ he added.

The summit comes at a time of unprecedented opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after accusations of vote rigging.

Tens of thousands of people demanded his ouster in Moscow last weekend.

Despite that, many who oppose the current occupants of the Kremlin do not believe Europe is in a position to push for reform.

Leading opposition figure, and former World chess champion Garry Kasparov said: “The decisions taken at this summit won’t really matter historically speaking. Today Europe is in such a financial mess it is ready to make concessions. Putin will no doubt take full advantage of this.’‘

Last month Putin criticised the eurozone’s emergency bailout fund — the EFSF — saying Russia would prefer to channel any support through the IMF.

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