Minsk-based company Antonel Tour is selling bus tickets to Crimea. But the agency fails to let its customers know that entering the peninsula through Russia is fraught with problems with subsequent arrival in Ukraine.
According to the company, one should have a ticket and Russian or Belarusian passport to go to the Crimea through the territory of the Russian Federation. When asked by Belsat whether it is legal, the representatives of the firm advised us to contact the Belarusian State Border Committee.
“We are just selling tickets!” they said.
In turn, the Border Committee evaded the answer saying that they are only responsible for the Belarusian border.
But the Border Committee of Ukraine has told Belsat that Crimea is occupied territory and visiting the peninsula through the territory of Russia is illegal. However, if a person opts for that, they may be denied entry to Ukraine for three years and fined (up to 390 Belarusian rubles).
Most of UN member states did not recognise the 2014 referendum in Crimea. G7, NATO member states, the European Union, the Council of Europe regarded the Russian actions as aggression and violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
In April 2014, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted a law declaring Crimea and the city of Sevastopol city the territory seized as a result of ‘the armed aggression of the Russian Federation’.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague recognised the annexation of the Crimean peninsula as a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and a Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry recommends the citizens to take into account the norms of Ukrainian legislation while travelling to Crimea.
“Planning a trip to Crimea, one should proceed from the fact that entering and leaving the territory of the peninsula for tourism purposes is not possible if one moves through mainland Ukraine,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Dzmitry Mironchyk said in 2016.
“With regard to visiting Crimea through the territory of Russia, the citizens of Belarus should remember that it could become a ground for denying entry to the territory of Ukraine and bringing to administrative responsibility in accordance with Ukrainian law,” he warned.