If you have decided to travel to Russia for business or leisure, and are not a member of the former Soviet Union countries, then you will definitely need a Russian visa for your travels. There are two major visas that are sought by travelers going to Russia.
The Tourist Visa:
Even if you are travelling for other purposes other than tourism, you will still need to obtain a tourist visa. This is applicable for short term visits that are less than 30 days in length.
The tourist visa for Russia is obtained via an invitation, sponsorship or other support letter from a hotel or a travel agency. The hotel or agency has to register the letter with the Department of Consular Services at the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry. It is illegal to obtain an invitation from a hotel if you are not going to stay in that hotel at all. Russian travel agencies usually flaunt this law simply because they can use a sponsorship document and then later register your visa without having to book a stay in a hotel. Some hotels will even give you a letter for a stay of the full 30 days even if you have only booked a two night stay with them.
The Business Visa:
This is a flexible visa that gives you multiple entries to Russia for a period of up to a year. If you are a regular visitor to Russia then this should be the visa that you obtain. Even if you are not a frequent visitor and you want to have an extended stay in Russia, then you should apply for a tourist visa. Under the law, this visa is intended for people visiting Russia for business, but once again, the are legal loopholes that allow people to go around it. There are those who use the visa for personal visits without having to book hotels. This however does not allow you to work in Russia even if you are there for an extended visit. The only Russia visas that will allow you to earn compensation for your services are your work visas.