Russian public figure Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin has recently been granted with a National Visa by the German authorities. The German work visa permits him to unlimitedly stay and work inside the country, as well as to travel throughout the whole Schengen Area. It also permits the 70-year-old to apply for an EU Blue Card.

Dmitry Klochkov, the municipal deputy of Moscow posted on Facebook a photo of Yakunin while he was leaving the visa section of the German embassy. The photograph went viral within a short period.

Hundreds of people, including Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition politician and Kremlin critic, shared it.

“It seems that we are losing [Yakunin],” Gudkov wrote ironically.

The businessman, who served as the president of Russian Railways for 10 years, until his retirement, is believed to be very close to Putin. Aside of both serving the KGB, they are also listed among the co-founders of the Ozero cooperative. According to the German Deutsche Welle, the duo met in the ’90ies. At the time, the current Russian President was working at the St. Petersburg city hall.

While he was the main man at the Russian Railways, he became the figure of a corruption investigation carried out by prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Yakunin is among those included in a joint list of sanctions by the United States and Australia. The list was introduced as part of an effort to punish Russia on the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

A spokesperson of Germany’s Foreign Ministry said for DW that the decision to grant Yakunin with a visa was based on German and EU regulations.

“Mr. Yakunin was not included in the EU lists as part of the so-called Ukraine sanctions,” the spokesperson said.

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