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Belarus to impose no restrictions on free entry for Russians, president says

February 03, 2017, 18:18 UTC+3

The Belarusian leader warned that possible delimitation of demarcation of the border between Russia and Belarus might trigger a "serious conflict"

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© REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

MINSK, February 3. /TASS/. Belarus will impose no restrictions on free entry for Russians in response to Russia’s introduction of borders zones, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday.

"I can guarantee: we are not going to take the bait and Russians can be sure they will be able to continue to visit Belarus freely as they always did. You can take it from me," he told a news conference.

"Maybe they wanted us to take response steps and impose some restrictions on the movement of our Russian brothers via the border. But we will never do that. They are not enemies to us, they are not our foes, they are our brothers," he added.

The Belarusian leader warned that possible delimitation of demarcation of the border between Russia and Belarus might trigger a "serious conflict." "We have never agreed the borderline on the map, on the ground… Any border signs or checkpoints can be installed only after that," he explained. "One can easily step into a foreign territory and snatch a piece of foreign land."

"So, I don’t think Russians will do that. I don’t even want to think where it can bring us to," he said.

According to earlier reports, Russian FSB Security Service’s head Aleksandr Bortnikov issued directives, ordered to set up border zones in the Russian regions of Smolensk, Bryansk and Pskov, neighboring Belarus. The directives envisage "location and time for movement of persons and vehicles into the border zone be determined" and warning signs should be installed at entries to the border zone. FSB said the step "is geared to establish proper conditions for the protection of the Russian-Belarusian border and take measures to prevent crimes that are in the competence of the border agencies."

On January 9, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree that established visa-free procedures of entry into Belarus for a period of no longer than five days on entry via the check border point in Minsk Airport. The decree covers 80 countries, including all European Union countries, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, the United States and Japan.

On Tuesday, Belarus’ foreign minister said Moscow had not informed the Belarusian side of its decision to set up a border zone in its regions neighboring Belarus.

Lukashenko said that having established a border zone Russia violated a border treaty between the two countries. He said his decision is to be taken as a political move.

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