MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Russia will have to respond symmetrically, if Ukraine decides on cancelling the visa-free regime, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Friday.
"Naturally, in the event that the agreement is denounced, Russia will respond symmetrically," said Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Contacts with Compatriots at the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament.
Ukraine’s Supreme Rada registered a draft resolution on cancelling an agreement on the visa-free regime between Russia and Ukraine, the Ukrainian parliament’s website said on Friday.
The draft’s authors are requesting the Ukrainian parliament to terminate the Russian-Ukrainian inter-governmental agreement on visa-free travel for citizens of both countries.
According to the Russian lawmaker, Russia’s symmetric response "will unfortunately affect ordinary citizens" because "we have not yet curtailed completely cultural and humanitarian exchanges at all levels."
"That is why, if we are forced to introduce visas with Ukraine, we’ll try to make this regime ‘soft’ for many categories of Ukrainian citizens," Slutsky said, adding that this would be Russia’s principled" decision because politicians like "[Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy] Yatsenyuk and [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] come and go while Russians and Ukrainians are historically one people and integral parts of the Russian world."
The Russian parliamentarian dismissed as absurd Ukraine’s proposal on the cancellation of the visa-free regime between the two countries.
"The initiative to cancel the visa-free regime was completely absurd back at the stage of its emergence in 2014. Apparently, its initiator, ex-Secretary of the [Ukrainian] National Security and Defense Council [Andriy] Parubiy has not got any wiser after becoming a Supreme Rada deputy," the Russian lawmaker said.
Over the two years after the coup d’etat, Ukraine has been increasingly sliding into an economic abyss. The corruption rate is high and foreign legionnaires are already ready to abandon the sinking ship of the Yatsenyuk government, the Russian lawmaker said.
"Meanwhile, Rada deputies continue playing the anti-Russian card as if they have nothing else to do," Slutsky said.