Moscow might be constrained to take special measures following the partial visa abolition by Belarus for 80 foreign countries. However, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was rather vague answering the question whether the Kremlin was prepared for such a move, even thought, according to him, “there is no doubt” that Minsk had held all required consultations with Moscow before taking it.
What’s more, according to Mr Pescov, Minsk’s decision to open the country’s territory to brief visits by the citizens of some countries is “an internal affair of Belarus.”
On Monday, Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko signed a decree scrapping visa requirements for residents of 80 foreign countries for up to five day. The decree covers 39 European countries, including all EU countries, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, the United States and Japan.
“The document is aimed at giving a boost to travels of business people, tourists, individuals having domestic passports and will not apply to foreigners making official trips: diplomatic, business, special and other passports equivalent to them will not be taken into consideration,” the press service of the Belarusian president reports.
The document provides that for the citizens of Vietnam, Haiti, Gambia, Honduras, India, China, Lebanon, Namibia and Samoa, a compulsory additional requirement will be of having a valid multi-entry visa of any EU or a Schengen zone state with a mark confirming the entry to their territory, as well as plane tickets confirming the departure from the Minsk National Airport within five days from the entry date.
The following decree comes into effect one month after its official publication.
New Belarusian visa-free travel rules do not apply to the citizens of third countries arriving in Belarus by plane from Russia, as well as to those arriving in Belarus and planning to fly to Russian airports.
Last year, Belarus also has done several steps in facilitating visa procedures for foreign tourists. In April, it granted visa-free entry for citizens of the UAE and in August to Chinese tourists arriving in groups. In the end of November, visa-free trips to Belarus opened for Brazilian citizens. In October 2016, the Augustow Canal park in Hrodna region became visa-free for visits lasting up to 5 days, which has attracted tourists from over 20 countries.
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