The tightening of Russia-Belarus border control is caused by the Islamic State threat, Russian ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov said on Friday.
“The open border between Belarus and Russia may be partially used by ISIS, particularly in view of the visa-free regime, which Belarus introduced for citizens of 80 countries. In this regard, we had to transfer flights from Minsk to international terminals. Passengers pass through border control where they show their passport. Belarusians’ and Russians’ are only scanned; third-country nationals are to show their passports and visas,” Surikov said.
When asked why Russia have become concerned over the control exercised by the Belarusian border guards, Surikov answered:
“There are many persons travelling. I do not even know how many people travel from Ukraine which entered a visa-free regime with Europe to Belarus and then to Russia. I do not know how many people arrives from Georgia, which also has a visa-free regime. And we are well aware of what the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia looks like at the present day – fighters of Chechen and Arab origin are trained there. Given all countries’ counterterrprism efforts, we must be on the safe side, because a number of terrorist attack is rising not only in Europe but also in Russia,” the envoy stressed
According to him, Russia is not questioning the competence of Belarusian border guards.
On January 9, Belarus president Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed the decree ‘On the introduction of the visa-free entry and departure for foreign citizens’. The document introduced visa-free entry through the border checkpoint at the Minsk National Airport and the visa-free stay in Belarus for up to 5 days for the citizens of 80 states, including the entire European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, the USA, Japan.