Germany has strongly condemned the Russian government's move, what they call “reciprocating”, to make visa norms “strict” for the EU citizens.

With effect from November 2010, all EU citizens, including those from Germany, who wish to visit Russia need to present a bank account statement, proof of salaries, property deeds and the proof registration of a personal business or place of residence, the German media reported.

According to Russian officials, the move follows the principle of reciprocity as Russian citizens are also asked for similar documents while obtaining a visa for visiting European Union countries.

However, the German parliament criticized the move referring to it as a step that would move the process of relaxation of visa rules with Russia backwards.

“I am surprised that Russia has taken this step. The goal should be for both sides to make advances toward visa freedom,” parliamentarian Marina Schuster of the foreign affairs committee told the media, adding that Germany has always supported the same.

Russia has been hoping for visa-free travel with the EU for years and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev had offered to end visa restrictions at a Russia-EU summit held earlier this year. The country hopes for a deadline on visa-free travel at the next Russia-EU summit to be held on December 12 in Brussels, media reported.

While the industry experts describe Russia’s move as “diplomatic”, issues like border security, illegal immigrations and the like continue to be issues of concern.