Are changes going to happen?
From The Moscow Times:
Medvedev Asks U.S. to Ditch Travel Visas 14 March 2011
By Nikolaus von Twickel
President Dmitry Medvedev has jumped onto the visa-free travel bandwagon, with his top foreign policy adviser declaring that the Kremlin sent a proposal to cancel visas to the White House before last week's surprise announcement by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
But analysts warned that the country was nowhere near meeting the U.S. Visa Waiver Program's stringent requirements and speculated that the Russian initiative reflected frustration over ongoing talks for visa-free travel with Europe.
Kremlin foreign policy chief Sergei Prikhodko told reporters Friday that Medvedev had called for an end to visas before Putin brought it up during talks with Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday.
From The New York Times:
Putin Throws Curveball to Biden With Suggestion on Visas
By ELLEN BARRY
Published: March 11, 2011
MOSCOW — When Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. sat down for his meeting with Vladimir V. Putin this week, the Russian prime minister opened with a curveball.
After noting joint projects on the table — cooperation on missile defense and Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, among others — Mr. Putin cheerily suggested a brand-new idea: abolishing visa requirements between Russia and the United States. The early part of the meeting was featured on Russian television.
Mr. Biden responded “Good idea,” and Mr. Putin seized on the response, saying he hoped Mr. Biden would make the case for the change in Washington. The vice president then backpedaled, explaining that he does not decide such matters.
“Mr. Prime Minister, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a real difference between being president and vice president,” he said, perhaps referring to the structure of Russia’s leadership, in which Mr. Putin occupies the country’s second-highest post but is widely viewed as its paramount leader.