Russia Urges Belarus to End Visa-Free Travel for Georgians


Russia on Wednesday moved to expand a transport blockade on Georgia with plans for tighter control on visitors from Belarus, DPA reported.

The Kremlin since midnight Monday blocked direct air, sea, rail and road links between Russia and Georgia, paralysing traffic between the two former Soviet republics. Russian secret police officers in Minsk said they were planning to expand the blockade so as to prevent Georgian citizens from entering Russia visa-free via an indirect route through Belarus.

"Georgian citizens are able to travel to Belarus without a visa...and taking advantage of the uncontrolled border between Russia and Belarus, are able to enter Russia without visas," the Interfax news agency reported a Russian FSB agent as saying. "We (the Russian FSB secret police) have received instructions to deal with this issue," the agent said.

A crisis in relations between Moscow and Tbilisi was touched off last month after Georgia arrested a group of Russian officers stationed in the country, and accused them of spying.

Belarus though generally closely allied with Russia thus far has refrained from siding with the Kremlin in the dispute.