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300K Ukrainians on Russia's 'black list' may come to Belarus legally

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Almost 300 thousand Ukrainians are unable to enter Belarus despite the fact that they do not represent a problem for Belarus. The reason is they are on Russia's entry-ban list but since Russia and Belarus have a common database they get automatically blacklisted here as well, explains Belarus' Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich.

Belarus and Russia signed an agreement in the late 2015 to unify their entry-ban lists to prevent undisired people from ending up in Russia through the open border between the two countries. However, in early February Russia introduced the border zone regime near the border with Belarus. All third-country citizens are turned around by Russian border guards and directed to a nearest international border posts. A Russian Federal Security officer promised Euroradio that border control patrols would be also employed at forest paths.

Why then does not Belarus allow the Ukrainians from Russia's black list to come to our country if Russia checks the passports at its border?

Russian border guards simply cannot embrace the Belarus-Russia border fully, explains Aliaksei Biahun, head of citizenship and migration department at Belarus' Interior Ministry:

“Controls are not total. There are literally thousands of roads between Belarus and Russia. We deliberatedly counted them once. How many posts can they really put in place? Besides, there are international obligations, which we are bound to."

However, the citizens of Ukraine from Russia's black list may come to Belarus without getting into trouble with Belarusian law-enforcement and security services on one condition - make an inquiry in advance.

Biahun: “Under the agreement with the Russian Federation, we need to take a decision on allowing those citizens before their entry to Belarus. Such a person should write an inquiry - something like "I am traveling to attend this and that event. Can I come?" This mechanism is in place and it works. If the competent bodies of Belarus decide he or she is allowed to enter Belarus, this information will be communicated to this person and other Belarusian competent bodies."

The person will be also warned about criminal prosecution if he or she goes further to Russia from Belarus. And that is it!

According to Biahun, this mechanism has been employed since the late 2015. Many Ukraine nationals have come to Belarus through this mechanism since then.