The World Cup in Russia is over but Moscow is still giving out perks to foreign fans. Russian lawmakers are now set to allow Fan ID holders to travel in and out of Russia freely until the end of the year.
A group of senior Duma deputies put forward a bill on Tuesday to grant a visa-free access to Russia for foreign fans who had visited the country during the 2018 World Cup. The initiative was originally announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.
Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the parliament would consider the bill "under priority procedure."
The bill would allow foreign holders of the so-called Fan ID, a document allowing entry to Russia and its stadiums for the duration of the World Cup, to freely enter and exit Russia until the end 2018.
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Ahead of the tournament's start on June 14, Russian officials said they had given out some 1.5 million Fan IDs. Most of them (871,000) were claimed by Russian citizens, followed by about 60,000 Chinese nationals and nearly 50,000 Americans, according to Russian daily Vedomosti. The final numbers of both foreign and domestic visitors are likely to be higher.
Putin praises foreign fans
On Tuesday, Russian officials said the new law is likely to be confirmed before the end of the month. All four Duma factions, including the majority-holding United Russia, support the initiative.
Following the final France – Croatia match on Sunday, Putin thanked the fans and praised their behavior as "simply beautiful."
"We know that the guests from abroad, the fans, would like to come back to us, bring their family and friends, and we are sure to consider a visa regime providing maximum comfort for those fans that have fallen in love with Russia," Putin said.
The Russian president also hailed the "unlimited" potential of the fans' newfound relationship with Russia.
Many observers, both in and out of Russia, praised the monthlong championship for breaking down national stereotypes both in Russia and the West.