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Senator says introducing border controls not to affect Russian, Belarusian citizens

Earlier this week, Russia’s Federal Security Service head handed down instructions to set up border zones in the regions adjacent to the Belarusian border

MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Establishing controls on the Russian-Belarusian border will not create difficulties for the two countries’ citizens travelling within the Union State, Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Committee for International Relations Konstantin Kosachev said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

"As far as I understand, this is going to affect neither Russian nationals nor Belarusian citizens, that is, the citizens of the Union State. We will continue to visit each other freely, as before," he said. "This is not affecting our Union State."

According to the senator, the issue of citizens of other states crossing the Russian-Belarusian border "emerged a while ago, but nobody paid attention to is until some point." As a result, in Kosachev’s words, Ukraine’s citizens have been entering Russia through Belarus in large numbers, "while sometimes their purposes are dubious."

"I think, we can take further steps together with our Belarusian friends and not only employ these restrictions but also agree on introducing a joint visa (though that will require setting up joint agencies, like the ones the Schengen member states have) or at least make an agreement on mutual recognition of visas so that we don’t have to face difficulties in bilateral relations," Kosachev concluded.

As reported earlier, Director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov handed down instructions to set up border zones in the regions adjacent to the Belarusian border. According to the FSB, the decision is aimed at ensuring the protection of the state border and preventing crimes that border agencies usually combat.

On January 9, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree allowing citizens of 80 countries, including European Union member states, the US, Brazil, Indonesia and Japan, to enter Belarus without visas for a period of no longer than five days. The visa-free entry rules will take effect on February 12.