Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rogozin Rejects Visa Proposal for Kaliningrad

President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for dealing with the thorny issue of Kaliningrad met with Lithuanian officials Monday, but rejected their proposal to introduce free, multiple-entry travel documents for residents of the Russian exclave, saying it did not solve the fundamental problem of unrestricted travel for all Russian citizens.

"Preferential treatment for the residents of one region of our country at the expense of the residents of other regions traveling from [one part of] Russia to [another part of] Russia is completely unacceptable," Dmitry Rogozin, head of the State Duma committee on foreign affairs, told Interfax on the eve of his visit to Vilnius.

Travel between the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and mainland Russia promises to become problematic after the region's neighbors, Poland and Lithuania, join the European Union, which is expected by 2004. As EU entry nears, the two countries have been required to tighten border controls and visa regulations in preparation for joining the Schengen group of nations.

Earlier this month, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus proposed introducing long-term visas, which could be issued free of charge, to Kaliningrad residents who frequently travel to Lithuania, Interfax reported. Adamkus also suggested providing such frequent travelers with special magnetized cards to be used at border crossings.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis told Rogozin on Monday that Vilnius "is prepared to be flexible insofar as this does not hinder the country's accession to the Schengen agreement," Interfax said.

However, Rogozin argued that, by insisting on Lithuania's adherence to the stringent Schengen visa rules, the EU was "playing the role of the famous Mr. Nyet," a reference to the Western nickname for Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko who became notorious for his intransigence in international negotiations.

"I regard this [Adamkus' proposals] simply as an attempt to call visas something else without changing the fundamental approach," Rogozin was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Rogozin was scheduled to travel to Kaliningrad late Monday.