As far as those Russian people are concerned who look favourably upon Europe, are interested in us and would in fact like to spend their money here (with good reason), here’s the message they get: we don’t want you and we don’t care about your sympathy. In all likelihood, this attitude will play into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is quite busy trying to convince Russians that Europe doesn’t like them and considers them as enemies. Furthermore, harder visa attainment will create a difficult situation for the Russian middle class, the exact same people who have so far been able to witness and tell how life is better in Europe. From now on, there will be fewer and fewer people to do so, which is a huge boost for Putin’s propaganda machine.
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This decision is also an extremely bad message for ourselves, because it’s in stark contrast with the values that we associate with ourselves and Europe. After this, we can’t say that the collective stigmatization of nations, or holding them universally accountable for the decisions made by some of their leaders belongs to the dark pages of 20th-century history, since we are just stigmatizing every Russian right now.