Russia closes borders with former Soviet Union republics

About 130 residents of Tajikistan have been detained in Novosibirsk, Siberia, over document problems

The first day of the new rules for citizens of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to cross Russian borders started with scandals. Leaders of the Eurasian Economic Community approved the new border rules on March 24th. In spite of the fact that the authorities of the above-mentioned republics had two months to prepare for the passport-entry regime, Russian border guards and former USSR citizens had to deal with numerous problems. People are still trying to cross the Russian border with their republican passports only, although now they are supposed to have the so-called foreign passport, if they wish to leave the territories of their native states and move to Russia.

The problem of the new passport entry regime between Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union has already become very important. More than a hundred citizens of Tajikistan were detained at the Novosibirsk airport yesterday: the people arrived to Russia holding republican passports only.

The chairman of the regional border guard administration in the Siberian administrative region, Igor Kurilov, said that the Tajiks were very surprised to know that they would not be allowed to enter Russia. “Apparently, they were not informed about the new regulations in Tajikistan, when they were departing from the republic,” Kurilov said. There are 127 Tajik passengers being held at the airport of Novosibirsk in Russia's Siberia at the moment; there are women and children among them. “All those who arrived without the necessary documents will be deported in the near future, at the expense of airlines,” Igor Kurilov said.

It is noteworthy that the Tajik authorities have already acknowledged their fault in the incident. A senior official from the Tajik border guard service stated that border guards of Tajikistan had made a mistake in calculating the terms for republican passports to expire when crossing the borders of the Eurasian Economic Community members.

However, it became possible to avoid the biggest problem that Russia could face after the introduction of the new border rules. According to a recent agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh colleague, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian citizens were allowed to transit-cross the territory of a neighboring state with internal passports only. The agreement allowed to keep the normal railway communication between Russia's European and Far Eastern territories.

Spokespeople for the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the recent meeting between the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan virtually confirmed that Kazakhstan had become the second state of the Eurasian Economic Community (after Belarus), with which Russia wished to establish special neighboring relations and keep the simplified visa-free entry for Russian and Kazakh citizens. “Russian people can go to Kazakhstan and Belarus with their Russian passports only. However, they will need to hold five different documents to be able to enter Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,” an official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, Alexander Yakovenko told the Vremya Novostei newspaper yesterday.

Yakovenko reminded that the introduction of the new border rules was not at all meant to create barriers between the countries of the Eurasian Economic Community. “It was only meant to regulate the border-crossing order between the community's members,” Yakovenko said. A foreign passport is to guarantee the reliability of the people who cross the borders of the above-mentioned states.

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Author`s name Olga Savka