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Russian FSKN Chief against Introducing Visas for Central Asians

Friday 18 January 2013

MOSCOW (Interfax) – Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) Director Viktor Ivanov has criticized a proposal to introduce visa requirements for Central Asian countries.

“I am against imposing visa requirements on Central Asian countries. The introduction of visas would be a cave norm. We want travel to be visa-free, but not uncontrolled. Today citizens of these countries can enter our territory without verifying their identity by internal passports and throw away their migration cards. The use of foreign passports will help establish when, where and how they cross the border,” Ivanov said on Friday, answering a question from Interfax.

The Russian authorities plan today that natives of Central Asian states should be required to produce their foreign passports as they enter Russia starting from 2014, he said.

“But it is possible to speed up this process, accompanying it by investment projects and projects to develop these countries’ infrastructure. Furthermore, such programs will help improve employment rates. That is why I came up with an initiative to establish a state corporation for Central Asia’s development. The president has supported this idea,” Ivanov said.

Tajiks and Kyrgyzs are highly dependant on the remittances coming from Russia. Tajikistan received $3.595 bln in migrant remittances last year, equalling some 48% of its GDP. According to some estimates, 1.5 mln Tajiks (out of a population of 7 mln) work abroad, mostly in Russia.

Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, hit by the output collapse at the gold venture with Centerra Gold, shrank by 0.9% in 2012 after a 6% rise a year earlier. Apart from Kumtor gold mine, remittances from Kyrgyz migrant workers employed mainly in Russia help keep the unstable economy afloat.

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