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MOSCOW, December 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia is doing everything in its power to introduce simpler formalities for the issuance of travel visas to fellow-countrymen abroad, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday as he took the floor in the format of the ‘governmental hour’ in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament.
“We decided to lift travel visas altogether for the Russian-speaking compatriots living in Latvia and Estonia and who don’t have the citizenship of those countries,” Lavrov said. “These people can visit Russia without restrictions.”
“Statelessness as a category is absent in international law and is a shame for the European Union,” he said. “Russia is making wide-ranging efforts to resolve the problem in the format of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe /OSCE/, the Council of Europe, the UN, and other international agencies but the results are very slow to come.”
When he was asked about a possibility of lifting visas for all other compatriot living abroad, Lavrov called attention to the practical difficulty of “singling compatriots out of the entire corps of citizens of the countries where they live.”
“The problem of issuing the ID’s of fellow-countrymen has been delegated to the councils of compatriots in each specific nation but these ID’s don’t have any legal value,” Lavrov said.
“Transition to visa-free traveling is a doubtless priority in our relations with any foreign country and we’re trying to make the conditions for the compatriots’ trips to Russia the most convenient,” he said.
“The compatriots working actively in the field of cultural, humanitarian, and scientific contacts are well-known and they get the travel visas without delays,” Lavrov said.