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MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. Driven by a desire to fence themselves off from Russia, the Ukrainian authorities are conducting a policy of restricting the rights of their own citizens, believes Konstantin Kosachov, the chairman of foreign policy committee in the upper house of Russian parliament.
"It looks like the Ukrainian authorities are reluctant to stop in their policy of cutting down the rights of Ukrainian citizens. After an assault on the virtual freedoms (the order to Ukrainian internet providers to block users’ access to Russian social networks - TASS) they went over to the real ones," Kosachov said in a comment on a possible of visa-free traveling between the two countries.
"Whatever the Ukrainian authorities conjure up to fence their country off from Russia, the result is stunningly undemocratic and damaging to the Ukrainians," he said.
Kosachov recalled that, according to the statistics of Ukrainian border control and immigration services, as many as 4.1 million Ukrainians crossed the border while heading for Russia in 2015.
"For many people, trips to Russia are linked to visiting relatives and, of course, to work," he said.
"By calling the interests of several million people into question and by trying to compensate for the unavoidable knotty issues (no opportunities to get a job, the demands to declare large sums of money) with the aid of visa-free traveling to the EU, Kiev has one again done self-harm through its propaganda attacks.
The People’s Front parliamentary has come up with a proposal in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s national parliament to consider bills on the introduction of travel visas for Russian citizens and on building up the quota for mandatory programming in the Ukrainian language at TV channels to 75%
Ukrainian MPs are not unanimous on the issue of travel visas, however.
Many members of the Pyotr Poroshenko Bloc caucus who took the floor at its meeting on Monday voiced doubts over the benefits the introduction of visas for Russian citizens, the deputy chief of the caucus, Alexei Goncharenko said.
"Also, it is clear Russia will retaliate with the introduction of travel visas for Ukrainian citizens and this means we’ll have to open Russian consular sections in the administrative centers of our regions," Goncharenko said, admitting that many Ukrainians would run into problems trying receive a Russian visas.
On the whole, the idea of introducing a visa plan in relations with Russia has many cons while its pros are far from obvious, he said.