Belarus Responds to US with Symmetrical Visa Sanctions
Belarus imposes visa sanctions against American officials in return to the decision of the US Department of State on extending the list of the Belarusian citizens prohibited to enter the USA. ‘In response to the unfriendly actions of the USA Belarus will impose corresponding visa restrictions for special categories of the American officials’, the deputy head of the information department of the foreign ministry of Belarus Maryia Vanshyna declared to Interfax. She stressed that ‘the return measures of Belarus will not affect the contacts between Belarusian and American citizens’. On the contrary, the Belarusian authorities are to unilaterally simplify the procedure of guest and business visa for ‘promoting the development of interpersonal contacts’. As the deputy head of the information department of the foreign ministry of Belarus - head of the ministry’s press office Maryia Vanshyna remarks, ‘after completing the compulsory procedures inside the state the procedure of guest and business visa granting for up to 30 days to the US citizens will be adopted. The visas are to be granted without special invitations on the basis of filled-out questionnaires. This step will be the goodwill action for proving the friendly nature of the Belarusian foreign policy,’ Vanshyna stresses. The US Department of State imposed visa restrictions for some other categories of Belarusian officials. The list is extended to the officials of the deputy minister rank and higher ranked officials as well as public prosecutor and his deputies as well as colonels and more senior officers of the interior ministry and the KGB, staff members of the ideological departments of the Minsk city and regional departments, heads of the president’s administration and his deputies, members of the central electoral commission and chairmen of regional electoral commissions, chairmen of regional and district courts, chairman of the constitutional court, directors of state enterprises and their deputies as well as spouses of the above-mentioned officials. As it was remarked in the declaration of the US Embassy the decision on the extension of the list was made due to the fact that ‘Lukashenka’s regime continues persecution of citizens for their statements in defense of democracy, peaceful demonstrations and speeches against the repressive policy of the regime’.