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Russian cabinet approves easy visa deal with India

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today approved an Indo-Russian deal easing issuance of business and tourist visas to their nationals.



Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today
approved an Indo-Russian deal easing issuance of business and
tourist visas to their nationals.

The Russian Cabinet, chaired by Putin, at a meeting gave
its nod to the agreement and forwarded it to the Lower House
of Parliament - the State Duma for ratification.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement on simplification of
requirements for mutual travels of certain categories of
citizens was signed by India and Russia on December 21, 2010
in New Delhi.

"The Agreement aims to consolidate the legal basis for
Russia-India relations in the area of requirements for mutual
travels of citizens and promote creation of favourable
conditions for facilitation of mutual travels of certain
categories of citizens of the two countries, first of all
representatives of business structures, scientists, cultural
workers, students and tourists," First Deputy Foreign Minister
Andrei Denisov said presenting the document at the Cabinet
meeting.

The citizens of the two countries holding valid passports
can stay on the territory of the other country for up to 90
days within a period of 180 days, according to the Cabinet
press service.

Currently, individual citizens and organisations need an
invitation or a tourist voucher to travel to Russia or India,
but if the deal is ratified by the parliament and signed into
law by President Dmitry Medvedev, they will be able to
directly apply for visas.

For the first time, since the Soviet collapse, the two
sides are also considering the possibility of issuing multiple
entry visas valid for up to five years to citizens of both the
countries under the condition that they follow certain
requirements, which are yet to be identified.

Earlier in June, India took a lead in resolving the vexed
visa issue by liberalising its rules for the Russian citizens
visiting India on business and tourism.

"To further encourage business contacts and promote
tourism between India and Russia, we are now issuing
multi-entry business visas valid for one year, against six
months single or double entry in the past, and tourist visas
valid for six months with multiple entries," Indian Ambassador
Ajai Malhotra said.

The Indian diplomatic missions in Moscow, St Petersburg
and Vladivostok have streamlined issuance of business and
tourist visas within three working days against 14 days in the
past.

According to Malhotra, the Indian missions in Russia had
issued about 110,000 visas to Russian citizens during 2010.

"I expect this number to increase by about 25 per cent this
year."

Tourist flows from Russia to India have picked up in
recent years, with Goa, New Delhi-Agra-Jaipur Golden Triangle,
Mumbai and Kulu-Manali emerging as major attractions, while
more Indian tourists can now be on Moscow`s Red Square and St
Petersburg’s Palace Square, although their number is still
small.

PTI

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