Kaliningrad Region Demands More Blank Passports

At a plenary session of the Kaliningrad Regional Duma deputies made an appeal to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov about the situation concerning the use of Russian passports when traveling in transit across Lithuania. Lithuania has already announced that after January 1 2005 it will only sell tickets to residents of the Kaliningrad Region on presentation of their passports.

However, local deputies believe that this could cause serious problems as at present less than 30% of those in the region have such passports. In the period before 2005, passports will have to be issued to about 500 thousand citizens who have never had such passports and to another 100 thousand whose current passports will expire in 2003 or 2004. To make this process easier there must be more blank passports sent to the region and there must also be more people to deal with the number of applications and issue the passports.

At present there are about 18 thousand blank passports at the Kaliningrad regional passport office, about 30 times less than the amount required. What is more, there are currently only 25 full-time workers in the region involved in the issue of passports.

Deputies also asked Mr Kasyanov to consider extending the validity period of passports, for example to 10 years. At the moment Russian passports are only valid for 5 years.

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