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No increase in crime rate in Belarus since launch of visa-free program

Society 11.08.2017 | 18:01

MINSK, 11 August (BelTA) – There has been no increase in the crime rate in Belarus since the launch of the visa-free entry, First Deputy Head of the Citizenship and Migration Department at the Belarusian Interior Ministry Vitaly Naumchik told the media on 11 August, BelTA has learned.

“There has been no increase in the crime rate in Belarus in connection with the launch of visa-free entry. Yet, we have seen an increase in the number of violations of the law on legal status of foreign nationals. Not all entering the country visa-free comply with the requirements of the decree on visa-free entry. Some try to go to Russia, often without a Russian visa. But the foreign nationals who come to Belarus visa free have no right to leave Belarus through the land borders. They should leave our country via Minsk National Airport only,” Vitaly Naumchik said.

He explained what consequences such behavior may lead to. “Russia has a large number of bilateral agreements with various countries, including the EU states. According to them, citizens, for example, of Poland and Russia can enter the territory of each other only through the international border crossing points. We have no such border checkpoints on the border with Russia. This means that by crossing the Russian border a foreign national who has come to Belarus visa-free violates the Russian laws. He also violates the rules of departure from Belarus which are set out in Decree No. 8. We respond to such cases and sometimes put such persons on our blacklist. Sometimes foreigners are surprised to learn of this when trying to come to Belarus again. They often do not realize that we monitor the timeliness of their departure from Belarus,” he said.

However, there have been cases when, due to force majeure, a foreign citizen cannot leave the country once the period of visa-free stay expires, Vitaly Naumchik said. In such cases he should apply to a local citizenship and migration department for an exit visa and registration. By the way, Belarusian exit visa is substantially cheaper than entry visa,” he noted. Otherwise, when departing a foreign citizen can face administrative responsibility.

However, such incidents are rare. The Interior Ministry has launched a large information campaign explaining the country's entry and exit rules.

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