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Russia suspends visa-free regime with Turkey

January 01, 2016, 9:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On November 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would suspend the visa-free regime between Russia and Turkey from January 1, 2016

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MOSCOW, January 1. /TASS/. Russia suspends the visa-free regime for Turkish citizens as of Friday, January 1.

The decision to this effect was taken after the Turkish Air Force attacked Russia’s Sukhoi Su-24 bomber on November 24 , 2015, as it was performing a task within the framework of the anti-terror operation in the sky over Syria. As a result of the attack, the warplane was shot down, one of the pilots - crew commander Oleg Peshkov - was killed by the fire emanating from the ground. During the operation to rescue the second pilot another Russian military service member was killed.

On November 27, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would suspend the visa-free regime between Russia and Turkey from January 1, 2016.

On November 28, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on measures to ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian citizens from criminal and other illegal activities and on the use of special economic measures against Turkey. The document envisages, in particular, the visa regime and bans charter flights between Russia and Turkey. Besides, Russian tour operators must refrain from working "in the Turkish direction."

According to the decree, visa restrictions will not affect the Turkish citizens who have a temporary residence permit on residence permit in Russia and also those sent to work in diplomatic missions.

The Turkish authorities have not yet taken any tit-for-tat measures. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova noted that the cancellation of visa regime was a sovereign right of any country, adding that the Russian and Turkish foreign ministries were not negotiating the possible introduction of the visa regime for Russians by Ankara.

In the 1990s and 2000s a simplified procedure for entry into the country was in place for Russian nationals travelling to Turkey, visas could be obtained on the border. However, Turkish citizens had to obtain visas in advance at the Russian embassies. An exception was made for holders of diplomatic passports (in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement of November 5, 1999).

On May 12, 2010, during then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Ankara an agreement was signed on mutual trips of citizens of Russia and Turkey. According to the document, as of April 16, 2011, Turkish citizens could travel to Russia and Russians - to Turkey for a period of up to 30 years without visas. In May 2013, Turkey unilaterally extended the visa-free stay for Russians on its territory to 60 days, while for Turkish nationals this period remained unchanged.

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