Petr – a popular travel vlogger – doesn’t hold back when talking about new EU visa restrictions aimed at Russian tourists.
“This is completely unfair. The people who are for Putin don’t care – they either have no money or have never been abroad,” says the 41-year-old YouTuber.
“The EU is making life as difficult as possible for those who are trying to fight the regime,” Petr adds.
He is one of millions of Russian set to be hit by tighter rules on getting into Europe as the EU steps up sanctions against the Kremlin over its war with Ukraine.
The bloc this week ruled to overturn a 2007 agreement easing visa requirements for Russians entering the Schengen zone, meaning it will take longer and be more costly.
But travel vloggers who entertain millions of Russians with their journeys across Europe and beyond told Euronews the sanctions are unlikely to weaken Moscow.
‘Sanctions target those against the war’
Petr Lovigin, who has 586,000 subscribers on YouTube, said the travel sanctions had “targeted those who are against the war”.
He entertains his followers with tongue-in-cheek videos from European countries like Belgium and Portugal, where he recently obtained a short-term residency visa.
But Lovigin admits that his content will “narrow” as he is to be hit by the more stringent visa measures introduced by the EU.
“I think that this is completely unfair because at least among young Russians, I’ve hardly met anyone who supports the war,” Lovigin said.
“The European Union thereby makes life as difficult as possible for those who are trying to fight the regime.
“It won’t help. I still do not see a single sanction from the West that would stop this war and Putin’s actions.
“The war is supported by the poor strata of the population, sitting in front of the TV and believing in propaganda.”
‘EU will boost support for Putin’
Leanid Pashkouski, a 34-year-old vlogger from Belarus, described the sanctions as “senseless” and said they would help Vladmir Putin.
With over 1.1million subscribers, his recent videos have covered the war in Ukraine and the refugee crisis.
Pashkouski is not directly affected by the EU’s new visa restrictions but said he fears being impacted as he claimed the EU “often equates Russia and Belarus”.
“I think these restrictions are just senseless, ineffective moves made by the EU authorities instead of doing real things,” said Pashkouski, a YouTuber for five years.
“They probably look like serious sanctions to the European public and make them calmer about the Russian question.
“In reality it won’t stop Putin, it won’t help to win the war, it won’t even prevent the Russians from travelling.”
Pashkouski added: “Instead, such sanctions could definitely have an opposite effect: people in Russia will consolidate more and more around Putin’s ideology – because they see the whole world hating and cancelling them.
“What is the best reaction to hate? To stand together against the enemy. It means visa ban end restrictions just will help Putin to achieve his goal.
“Also, those who have the possibility to travel are in opposition to the regime most of the time, so the EU is hitting its allies.”
Pashkouski said that the tighter requirements could put some Russians in danger by making it more difficult to leave the country.
“Such a strategy is absolutely senseless and ineffective.
“It puts in danger many activists, journalists and citizens who need or will need a safe place to escape,” he said.