MINSK, 12 January (BelTA) – A group of Belarusian and Russian experts will discuss travel regulations for foreigners during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Russia this year, BelTA learned from Aleksei Begun, Head of the Citizenship and Migration Department of the Belarusian Interior Ministry, on 12 January.
Belarusian and Russian law enforcement agencies will be quite busy for the duration of the world football championship. A Belarusian-Russian expert group will be created to discuss how foreign citizens will be able to reach the football venues and travel in transit via Belarus. Future plans also include arrangements for the 2019 European Games and the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Belarus.
According to the source, if a Belarusian-Russian agreement on the mutual recognition of visas is passed in addition to other documents regulating the short-term stay of foreign citizens in Belarus and Russia, the relevant agencies of the two countries will start sharing information about issued visas and cancelled ones in real time. New databases will be set up, contributing to smoother work of law enforcement agencies, prediction and analysis of migration flows, and the development of the relevant management decisions, said Aleksei Begun.
In his words, negotiations on the Belarusian-Russian draft agreement on the mutual recognition of visas will continue soon. The next round of talks will take place in Belarus. “The Russian side insists on enforcing the agreement as from Q1 2018 due to the forthcoming football world championship. Both sides are interested in it,” noted Aleksei Begun.
At present Belarusian and Russian agencies share information about people, who violate visa-free travel regulations in Belarus and who leave Belarus for Russia. “We constantly share the relevant information. We add the violators to the list of persons, who are forbidden from entering the Union State of Belarus and Russia,” stressed Aleksei Begun. “This information is regularly shared. Besides, an interstate working group coordinates all the aspects of the migration policy inside the Union State of Belarus and Russia. Members of the group have also discussed joint mechanisms for controlling the stay of foreigners in Belarus.”
According to the source, about 500 violations of the visa-free travel regulations have been detected since the visa-free travel program was launched. The Belarusian Interior Ministry now puts more efforts into raising the awareness of foreign citizens about the visa-free travel rules. “The violations are mainly committed by European Union citizens, who have Russian visas and yet use Belarus' visa-free travel program to enter Russia. We believe they violate our laws by doing so and add them to the list of people, whose entry to Belarus or to the Union State of Belarus and Russia is forbidden or undesirable,” said Aleksei Begun.
Speaking about the expansion of the visa-free travel program in Brest Oblast and Grodno Oblast, the official said that about 20 people have availed themselves of the new opportunities so far in Brest Oblast. Meanwhile, several hundred foreign tourists have visited Grodno Oblast.