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Moscow, Ashgabat may be interested in easing visa restrictions — Russian ambassador

"Today, the issue of liberalizing the travel regime between our countries in not on the bilateral consular agenda," Ivan Volynkin said

ASHGABAT, August 3. /TASS/. The issue of easing visa restrictions between Russia and Turkmenistan is not on the agenda at the moment but may be of mutual interest in the future, Russian Ambassador to Ashgabat Ivan Volynkin said in an interview with TASS.

"Today, the issue of liberalizing the travel regime between our countries in not on the bilateral consular agenda. However, it may be of interest in perspective," he said.

He recalled that currently exchanges are carries out in accordance with the intergovernmental agreement of July 18, 1999. "As for possible easing visa restriction or abolishing of visas, I’d note that this is a comprehensive task requiring thorough consideration and agreement with our Turkmen partners," he noted.

According to the Russian diplomat, direct passenger traffic between Russia and Turkmenistan is around 100,000-120,000 people a year. "Notably, some people use connecting flights via Istanbul and Dubai and other transit routes. So, at least about 50,000 people could be added to the above-mentioned figure," he said, adding that the two countries are looking at organizing new air routes between Russia and Turkmenistan.

To date, flights between Russia and Turkmenistan are performed by two air companies: Turkmenistan Airlines and Russia’s S7. Flights are performed to Moscow and Kazan.

The Russian ambassador also noted that the demand for tourist travels to Russia has considerably increased this year. "After quarantine restrictions were lifted in March 2023, we have issued more than 19,000 visas. This year, the number of Turkmen nationals willing to visit Russia for tourism has increased dramatically," Volynkin said, adding that more than a half of visas issued by the embassy in the first six months of 2023 were tourist visas. Visas for students are second after tourist visas. "Traditionally, Turkmen young people are highly interested in receiving high-quality education in Russian universities," he explained.