Riga As of Friday, Russian citizens will no longer be able to easily extend their stay in Kazakhstan. The state in Central Asia, which borders directly on Russia, has tightened its entry and residence regulations.
Accordingly, citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Kazakhstan and Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, are only allowed to stay in the country for 90 days per six-month period without a visa. So far, many Russians have been able to leave the country briefly after a 90-day stay and stay for 90 days again after re-entering the country.
Since the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, but especially since the mobilization in Russia at the end of September 2022, many Russian citizens have fled to Kazakhstan to avoid military service in their home country. According to media reports, there are more than 200,000 Russians.
Despite the new regulations, anyone who can show an employment contract, is studying in Kazakhstan or is receiving medical treatment could stay in the country for a longer period of time.
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Kazakhstan is a popular exit country for Russian citizens, in addition to the long national border, because no passport is required for entry from Russia, only a national ID card is required. Only about 30 percent of Russians have a valid passport.
Debate on entry rules in Georgia
The Caucasus state of Georgia has also been a popular destination for Russians leaving their country since the beginning of the war. However, civil society organizations and the opposition are calling for entry restrictions. So far, people from Russia can stay in Georgia for 365 days without a visa.
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Tensions continue to flare up in Georgia due to the large influx of Russian citizens. Polls showed at the end of last year that 78 percent of Georgians are against Russians being allowed to enter the country without a visa.
Georgia’s President Salome Zurabishvili said in October that her country could change the “liberal” visa rules for Russian citizens. She called the arrival of Russian citizens in Georgia “a challenge”. She recently spoke out against resuming direct flight connections to Russia.
In doing so, however, she is opposed to Irakli Kobachidze, the leader of the ruling party “Georgian Dream”. He had spoken out in favor of resuming direct air traffic with Moscow. The Georgian government is considered more pro-Russian than the population.
More: How the Kremlin is harassing Russians fleeing an expected new mobilization