19:04 GMT +319 August 2019
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    Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

    Russia's Border Zones Restoration Violation of Int'l Agreements - Lukashenko

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    Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday accused Russia of violating international agreements in connection with the restoration of border zones with his country.

    MINSK (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, three orders of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) were posted on the Russian government's legal information portal, which say border zones are being established on the border with Belarus — in the Pskov, Smolensk and Bryansk regions. The decision takes effect February 7.

    "Just imagine: there are international treaties and agreements. And a minister, a strong one, an FSB officer etc., puts an end to all agreements by putting his signature, issuing his order… Is it normal?" Lukashenko said at a news conference in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

    However, the Belarusian leader said he believed Moscow and Minsk would sooner or later resolve all disputable issues and would be able to agree. On Thursday, Grigory Rapota, State Secretary of the Union State, which Belarus and Russia are both part of, said that the introduction of the border zones was aimed at improving the movement of citizens of the two states. The Belarus State Border Committee said that Moscow's decision was Russia's domestic affair, while Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Vanshina stressed that Russia's decision had not been coordinated with Minsk and raised questions.

    The Russian side in its turn emphasized that Minsk had not informed Russia on the introduction of partial 5-day visa abolition for numerous countries in advance and therefore, it should not be complaining on the absence of the warning from Moscow.

    On January 9, Lukashenko signed a decree abolishing visa requirements for a period of no longer than five days on entry via the Minsk National Airport. The decree covers the citizens of 80 countries, 39 of which are European.

    As travel between Russia and Belarus is visa-free and the duration of the stay is unlimited for the citizens of these two countries, Moscow has expressed concern that foreigners, arriving without visas to Belarus, may illegally enter the territory of Russia.

    Lukashenko said that Minsk had agreed with Moscow the plans for a 5-day visa-free regime for citizens of 80 countries, including the United States and European Union member states.

    "We agreed it with them… Today they are starting to reproach us [saying] that the border zone is allegedly the response to Lukashenko signing a decree on visa-free entry through the national airport. It would be fine but they adopted the order a month before we introduced the visa-free regime," Lukashenko said.

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    FSB, Alexander Lukashenko, Russia, Belarus
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