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Europe considering ban on Russia tourism
Everyone, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Lake Louise in Alberta. I thought today would be a great time to talk about tourism (laughs).
Now you may have heard that in Europe, there’s a debate raging about whether or not they should ban all Russian passport holders from coming for tourist purposes or just make it more difficult. The argument really is over the degree of the restrictions and the easy visa policies that they negotiated several years ago have already been suspended. But there are a number of countries, most notably Sweden, Finland, Poland, and the Baltics, that want to make it a more extreme ban that just prevents Russians from coming regularly at all.
The template for this would be South Africa under apartheid. At that point, you had a country where 10 to 15% of the population basically imposed its will on everyone else.
Ugly system, and as a result, the Europeans and some other countries prevented South African passports from being used easily in the rest of the world.
And the point here wasn’t necessarily to punish or force an immediate change. There was no way that an economic system as entrenched and beneficial to the minority such as we had under apartheid could be easily shifted just because of tourism. And that’s not the goal here with Russia.
Instead it is to impress upon everyday Russians, just like they did with everyday white Africans, that you are no longer part of the civilized world. And you will not be treated as such and until such time as you start abiding by some really basic concepts when it comes to human dignity, you are not welcome in the advanced system.
This is going to work both better and worse in Russia compared to South Africa. First, the worst.
South Africa under apartheid was – if you were white – still a democracy. There was still a political pluralism system; there were still votes; they still mattered. None of that is the case in Russia.
Russia is a single-party state where even the quote “opposition parties” are actually just arms of the ruling government. So the opportunity for political dissent and pressure from change from below is very, very limited.
But it might all also work better because the Russians who do travel, the ones that are gonna be affected by this, are not your rank and file. South Africa had a much more robust middle class among the whites than Russia has. So the people who are now going to be losing access are the people who actually have access to money. And that means that opposition isn’t from below to a degree; it’s from above.
Now this doesn’t spell political change. This potentially spells revolution. But one way or another, that is the future of the Russian Federation. The good question is whether it’s in the short term or not.
Personally, I don’t think so, but this is the sort of policy that will nudge things in that direction. Okay. That’s it for me until next time.
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