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MINSK, January 10. /TASS/. Minsk has respected Russia’s interests in allowing visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries for visits of up to five days, the head of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s main consular department told journalists on Tuesday.
"We took into account the interests of the Russian side," Igor Fisenko said, noting that the visa-free scheme did not apply to people arriving in Belarus by plane from Russia, as well as those planning to fly to Russian airports (these flights are domestic and have no border controls.
According to Fisenko, a coordination process is not envisaged when such decisions are made, but the sides inform each of a possible moves. "The consular services of the two countries hold consultations. In particular, during the latest consultations we informed Russian colleagues among other things about a possibility of introducing a five-day visa-free regime in Belarus," he said.
Fisenko said the decree will come into effect in February and conclusions will be drawn later from a new practice.
He said the issue of scrapping visa requirements for citizens of other countries was not on the agenda, but did not rule out that this could happen in the future.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has described Minsk’s decision to open the country’s territory to brief visits by the citizens of some countries as "absolutely an internal affair of Belarus."
"There is the Union State as an institution, and we are certain that all the necessary regimes were taken into account when the decision was made," Peskov said earlier on Tuesday.
He said he was certain that "in making such decisions the whole process was arranged in a way that will rule out a projection of the visa-free regime to our border."
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree on Monday dropping visa requirements for citizens of 80 foreign countries for visits of up to five days.
The decree applies to 39 European countries, including all EU countries, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, the United States and Japan.
The press service stated that this is aimed at boosting travel by business people, tourists and individuals having domestic passports and this 5-day, visa-free regime will not apply to those holding diplomatic or official passports.
As for the citizens of Vietnam, Haiti, Gambia, Honduras, India, China, Lebanon, Namibia and Samoa, an additional compulsory demand for them is to have in their passports a valid multi-entry visa of a EU or a Schengen zone state with a stamp confirming entry to their territory, as well as plane tickets confirming their departure from the Minsk National Airport within five days from the entry date.