Foreign visitors to Russia 2018 World Cup won`t need visas

Moscow: In a first for the football World Cup, foreign fans and participants to the next championships in 2018 in Russia will be able to visit the country without visas immediately before and during the competition, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

"We passed a federal law establishing a special visa regime for foreigners who help organise the 2018 Championship enabling not only the official participants, such as the athletes, referees, coaches and others, but also the fans to visit Russia without visas right before and during the competition," Putin told media here.

"The history of football championships has never seen anything like this before," he added.

In an interview before his visit to Brazil to witness the Germany-Argentina World Cup final where the championship host baton is to be ceremonially passed from Brazil to Russia, Putin said Russia is "very carefully" analysing Brazil`s experience in hosting the championships of the world`s most popular sport.

"Representatives of several ministries and organisations, including the Ministry of Sports and the Russia-2018 Organising Committee are in constant contact with Brazilian colleagues," he said.

In February-March, Russia successfully hosted the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.

Putin, who is visiting Brazil on the invitation of President Dilma Roussef and football world body, FIFA, emphasised that Brazil is one of Russia`s key partners.

"Our bilateral cooperation is of strategic importance, as Brazil is a responsible member of the international community whose political influence is steadily increasing. It is enough to mention its active participation in BRICS, the G20 and a number of Latin American regional organisations," Putin said.

"We support Brazil as a deserving and strong candidate for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council," he added.

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are scheduled to meet for the 6th Summit to be held July 15-17 at Fortaleza, Brazil, where the chair of the grouping will pass to Brazil from South Africa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the BRICS summit meeting in Brazil.