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MOSCOW, October 12 (Itar-Tass) —— The Federation Council has ratified an intergovernmental agreement with Norway on the facilitation of mutual trips by residents of border areas.
According to the document, such visits will be carried out without invitation, but on the basis of the foreign travel passport (with the exception of diplomatic, official passports and seaman's passport) and permit for local cross-border movement. The latter will be issued by consular offices under a simplified procedure. The agreement regulates the fee for the issue of the travel document and specifies that it will be issued free of charge to minors, full-time students, and persons aged 60 and older.
It is also possible for either party to refuse to issue such a permit, revoke or cancel the already issued ones, or shorten the period of stay in its territory.
The agreement stipulates that a citizen who enters the country under these rules may be continuously present in the border area for no more than fifteen days. However, the total length of stay in the border area during the period of the permit to local cross-border movement is unlimited. In addition, it stipulates that the permit does not give its holder the right to employment or entrepreneurial activity.
As to the territories covered by these rules, along the Russian-Norwegian border there will be created a special zone 30 kilometers wide on either side. In Russia it will include such municipalities as Nickel, Pechenega, as well as Zapolyarny and Korzunovo, and in Norway, Sor-Varanger. The residents of these localities will be able to cross the 196-kilometer long state border according to the simplified rules.
According to the relevant committee of the Federation Council on international affairs, the ratification of the agreement "will help develop and strengthen Russian-Norwegian relations, as well as a favorable regimen for mutual trips for residents of the border areas between the two countries."
"This is an excellent example of cross-border cooperation and fundamental changes that have occurred in the region over the past twenty years," Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said on the eve of the signing. His Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, called the document "an important step, albeit a minor one, towards a visa-free regime."