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Lavrov: hasty introduction of COVID-passports for travels may bring new division lines

Russian Foreign Minister also said that WHO has not yet "expressed its final opinion in regard to such passports and maintains a moderately restrained approach"

MOSCOW, March 22. An introduction of anti-COVID vaccination passports for international travels must be a thoroughly considered decision, which takes into account various aspects, otherwise it may result in the establishment of new division lines and violations of human rights, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Chinese mass media.

"Everyone tries to figure out the ways for the normal functioning of countries, peoples and citizens in the times, when the coronavirus infection remains to be a serious challenge for many regions of the world," the top Russian diplomat said. "The use of the so-called ‘vaccination passports’ is under discussions in this context."

Lavrov recalled that during the G20 summit in November 2020, Chinese leader Xi Jinping came up with an initiative to work out a system of "digital health passports" for international travels.

"We can see how China is taking relevant steps," he said. "We are studying the Chinese experience and approaches of other countries regarding this issue, including within the frames of the European Union."

"It is important to give an extra consideration and all-embracing evaluation of these initiatives, taking into account the principle of the voluntarily vaccination and equal approach, in order to make possible innovations mutually acceptable in any country," the Russian top diplomat stated. "Otherwise, we will be drawing new division lines."

"We must prevent violations of human rights and the rights of a traveler in case such certificate - I don’t want to call it a passport - is absent," the Russian diplomat stated. "People travel a lot. This is a fact of life, the new reality of the international life."

Lavrov noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet "expressed its final opinion in regard to such passports and maintains a moderately restrained approach."

The Russian foreign minister also said that Moscow is considering all possible aspects in favor of the introduction of the so-called ‘vaccination certificates’ for Russian citizens’ foreign travels.

"As of today, our current experience in the stage of the formalization and stipulates the provision that anyone, who received a jab, has the right of getting a ‘vaccination certificate’ either in written or digital forms. The data is entered into the federal registration list."

"Such document verifies that the applicant was vaccinated and received the preparation," he continued.

Lavrov said that Russia has not yet "approved the use of this document for other purposes," adding that "we are considering all aspects of this initiative."