The granting of Residence Permit for Investment (ARI), the well-known golden visas, to Russian citizens has been a cause of controversy in the public space. Former Socialist MEP Ana Gomes, a very critical voice of this regime, told Expresso that she accuses the Government of hiding information about citizens who request these visas from Portugal. “Unlike Cyprus and Malta, for example, in Portugal there is no way of knowing who the people are who have obtained golden visas and residence permits.”

Ana Gomes has already asked socialist and social democratic governments several times for the list of visa beneficiaries, but access has been denied, on the grounds that it would jeopardize data protection. “I only asked for names and nationalities. This government secrecy is perverse and serves to protect criminals who want to come to Portugal and the Schengen Area,” she told Expresso.

“I even admit that there are Russians with good intentions who want to come to Portugal, but they are mainly criminals and kleptocrats close to the Putin regime who have been protected by our government.”

According to a report by Expresso, currently, the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) discloses the number of visas granted by nationality, year, and the number of those refused. According to official data, since 2012, when the ARI began, there have been 431 golden visas granted to Russian citizens. To Expresso, after the closing of the weekly edition, SEF revealed that since 2012 “14 ARI cases and one for family reunification have been denied to Russian citizens”.

Russians living in Portugal, in whatever capacity (with Portuguese nationality or residing in our country) and who are part of the list of sanctioned personalities defined by the European Union, will suffer sanctions. “Any Russian citizen, residing in Portugal in any capacity, with any type of authorization, whether or not a Portuguese citizen, who is part of the list of sanctioned persons is subject to the limitation of movements in Portugal and the freezing of financial assets”, said the minister for Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, in Parliament.

Santos Silva was asked by BE parliamentary leader Pedro Filipe Soares about how sanctions will be applied to Russian oligarchs who eventually live in Portugal or have a Portuguese passport. The minister, however, did not answer what the Executive is going to do with regard to requests for golden visas for Russian citizens.