Germany to ease visa rules for Russian Kremlin critics

Berlin will ease visa requirements for Russian critics of Vladimir Putin's government to allow them to live and work in Germany, an interior ministry spokesman said Monday.

Russian police war demonstration
Russian police arrest a man in Moscow for protesting against the war in Ukraine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Sputnik | Vitaliy Belousov

Journalists, scientists and civil society activists who are facing pressure from Moscow will be able to benefit from the newly agreed rules.

Human rights defenders and employees of foreign organisations which have been classified as “undesirable” in Russia can also be granted residency under the sped-up procedures.

Their immediate family members will likewise benefit, said the spokesman.

He could not give any figures on how many people might benefit from the eased procedures, but said applicants will have to present “credible” cases.

Germany has opened its doors to an estimated 600,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion.

But in the last weeks, calls have grown for Europe’s biggest economy to also offer protection to Kremlin critics.

In April, German daily Welt announced it was hiring Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who staged an anti-war protest on live TV, as a foreign correspondent. 

Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russia’s Channel One television, barged onto the set of its flagship Vremya (Time) evening news in March holding a poster reading “No War” in English.

She was later fined by the government for the demonstration. 

In the past few weeks, Germany has also streamlined the visa process for Russians who currently work for German companies and want to move away from their home country. 

READ ALSO: German authorities simplify visa process for skilled Russian workers

Under the new conditions, Russian workers who who earn at least €43,992 a year and who want to transfer to Germany with their current employer will be granted “global access to the labour market”, meaning that their visas will be granted automatically.

Deputy Chancellor Robert Habeck said however that in the process of welcoming Russians, Germany has to ensure that “the wrong ones” do not “come to us, and we don’t bring spies into our country”.

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Germany could have 86 million people by 2030, report claims

Deutsche Bank Research has revealed that Germany is experiencing its highest influx of newcomers since 1990.

Germany could have 86 million people by 2030, report claims

If researchers are right, Germany’s population in 2030 will be 86 million, an increase of about five million over 2011 numbers. Although the country’s low birth rate has risen slightly in recent years, immigration and newcomers make up for most of that bump.

Around 329,000 people moved to Germany last year. That’s similar to the numbers seen before the pandemic. In the last few months of 2021, refugees from Syria and Afghanistan made up a considerable part of the total, according to researchers.

Deutsche Bank projects that number will be much higher this year, and are already predicting that 1.3 million Ukrainians will have come to Germany over the course of 2022 as Russia wages war on their homeland.

Analysts also reckon that a smaller, but still significant number of Ukrainians—about 260,000—will come to Germany in 2023.

That brings up two big questions: firstly, how long the war will last and secondly, whether Ukrainians who fled to Germany will end up staying long-term.

Report authors say Ukrainians in particular are well-placed to find jobs in Germany due to their relatively high qualifications and the country’s skilled labour shortage. About half a million skilled labour jobs in Germany are unfilled in everything from social work to education and information technology.

READ ALSO: Germany looks to foreign workers to ease ‘dramatic’ labour shortage

The Deutschland Monitor, as the report is called, also highlighted a few other notable findings.

Arrivals from Syria, Romania, and Afghanistan made up the top three in 2021.

In fourth spot, almost 24,000 new arrivals in Germany in 2021 came from India. Researchers say Berlin’s largely English-speaking start-up scene is particularly attractive to skilled technology jobseekers.

Researchers say that, in general, the report is a positive news story—with economic boosts expected that could help to address Germany’s skilled labour shortage.

However, the report cautions of the risk that an increasing population will put further pressure on the housing market.

READ ALSO: Energy crisis to labour shortage: Five challenges facing Germany right now