Lithuania's visa services will stop cooperation with commercial intermediaries selling travel organization services in Russia while issuing Schengen visas as of February, according to an order signed by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius.
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"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the decision to stop cooperation with commercial intermediaries in the Russian Federation following the good practice of other Schengen countries to make the acceptance of Schengen visa applications at consular establishments more effective and transparent," the ministry told BNS Lithuania.

Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Iceland, Slovenia, Latvia and Estonia also no longer cooperate with commercial intermediaries in Russia.

Visa services can cooperate with commercial intermediaries only on Schengen visas.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the change will reduce the administrative burden for Lithuanian institutions taking part in the visa issuance process since commercial intermediaries must be accredited, checked regularly and constantly monitored.

"Since commercial intermediaries and foreign entities, a lot of resources must be used to check their credibility," the ministry said.

Last year, Lithuanian visa services cooperated with 30 commercial intermediaries in Russia and the latter submitted as few as 3 percent of all visa requests.

Lithuanian visa services issued 92,922 Schengen visas in Russia last year and the Baltic country was in the tenth place among Schengen countries in this respect.

17 Lithuanian visa centers operate in Russia at the moment.

Lithuania has also renounced services of commercial intermediaries in Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus this year.

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