One of the biggest pains of travelling to Russia has always been its strict visa requirements, but that could be about to change for Malaysian tourists to the country after a top Kremlin envoy revealed they were considering a visa-waiver for visitors from the Asian state.
Lyudmilla Vorobyeva, the Russian ambassador to Malaysia, said that the visa-free travel agreement was in the final stages of discussion and it was likely to be rubber stamped later this year.
As it stands, Russian visitors to Malaysia need no visa to enter the country for a maximum stay of up to 30 days – all they have to do is turn up at the front door. For Malaysians visiting Russia however, the need for a visa can be a real hassle. The bureaucracy involved in securing a Russian visa has become almost legendary, involving first securing a letter of invitation from a Russian national or company, followed by a trip to the local Russian embassy.
Vorobyeva told the New Straits Times that if visa-free travel for Malaysians does become a reality, it will serve to bolster economic and tourist ties between the two nations:
“My impression is people here are interested in going to Russia. Everyone knows about St Petersburg and Moscow and many people are visiting these popular tourist destinations.”
Vorobyeva also expressed her hope that the deal would lead to more Malaysians deciding to further their studies in Russia, where higher education is more affordable than western countries. She noted that Russia’s government provides a number of scholarships for students of ASEAN countries (of which Malaysia is a part), but Malaysia had yet to take any up.