Russia mulls introduction of visas with CIS countries

Moscow, Jan 13 : Russia will "inevitably" introduce visa regime for member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an official said Monday.

"Visas will be needed inevitably because social and economic level of the countries is different," Dmitry Kozak, Russian deputy prime minister, said in an interview published by the government's press service.

Unless migration is regulated, Russia could not protect itself from ethnic conflicts, Xinhua quoted him as saying in the interview.

The official added that Moscow could expect the European Union to lift visa restrictions on Russia only if its border controls with the CIS countries became stricter.

"Without introduction of the visa regime (with the CIS), we'd hardly ever reach an agreement with the European Union over free travel for Russian citizens there," he said.

Russia currently does not require entry visas or, in some cases, even travel passports from citizens of the nine CIS countries. The only two former Soviet republics Russia has visa regime with are Turkmenistan and Georgia.

The CIS, founded in 1991 as a regional association of former Soviet republics, groups Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

--IANS (Posted on 13-01-2014)

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