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Belarus Scraps Visas For Short-term Visits

Belarus on Monday announced it was scrapping visas for short-term visits by citizens of 80 countries in a move that could help open up one of Europe's most tightly-controlled states.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:January 10, 2017, 11:02 AM IST
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Belarus Scraps Visas For Short-term Visits
Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ EOC
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Belarus on Monday announced it was scrapping visas for short-term visits by citizens of 80 countries in a move that could help open up one of Europe's most tightly-controlled states.

Strongman ruler Alexander Lukashenko signed off on a decree to allow visitors from across Europe and the United States to enter Belarus by air for stays of up to five days without a visa.

The new rules will come into effect in a month, an official statement said.

Landlocked Belarus -- once dubbed the last dictatorship in Europe by the US -- is one of the continent's most closed countries and currently only has visa-free travel with neighbouring Russia, other ex-Soviet states and some South American and Middle Eastern nations.

Ties between Belarus and the European Union have eased since the 28-nation bloc began lifting most of its sanctions on the country in 2015 after Lukashenko released high-profile political prisoners.

Minsk has close ties to former Soviet master Moscow, with Belarus part of an economic union with Russia and no border controls between the two countries.

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