Belarus shuts borders: Citizens barred from leaving and foreigners must provide documents

Border force has imposed tough restrictions on Belarusian citizens and foreign nationals with a residential permit in Belarus. Those with a temporary residence card in another country are not allowed to leave.

A temporary residence permit in a foreign state is not a basis for leaving Belarus, the State Border Committee said.

It added departure from the country through ground checkpoints is limited for both Belarusian citizens and foreigners with a residence permit in Belarus.

Belarus sparked widespread condemnation from the international community last week, after officials re-routed a Ryanair plane to Minsk and arrested a dissident journalist and his partner.

Officials in Belarus scrambled a MiG-29 fighter plane to escort the aircraft to Minsk airport then apprehended Roman Protasevich – a blogger and critic of President Alexander Lukashenko – and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.

The flight had been en route to Lithuania from Greece on May 23.

Ryanair said the crew had been “notified by Belarus of a potential security threat on board and were instructed to divert to the nearest airport, Minsk”.

The European Union has urged its airlines to avoid Belarus amid the outrage over the forced landing of the passenger plane.

The bloc is considering imposing sanctions on Minsk.

Belarus has been isolated by large parts of mainland Europe, but has Russia in its corner.

Moscow will defend Belarus and provide help if Brussels enforces economic sanctions on Minsk, a Russian foreign ministry official.

Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has been holding cosy talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin over the weekend.

He added the Kremlin would take note of the fact Ms Sapega also has a Belarusian residency permit.

Russia will also press ahead with a second £352million ($ 500million) loan to Belarus next month.

Moscow promised Minsk a £1.1billion ($ 1.5billion) loan in 2020 as part of efforts to stabilise its neighbour.

Minsk received a first instalment of £352million ($ 500million) in October.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: World Feed

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