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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Eases Visa Rules for the EU

The State Duma on Wednesday ratified agreements with the European Union that ease visa requirements for some travelers and spell out terms for the return of illegal immigrants.

The Duma voted unanimously to simplify visa rules for businessmen, government officials, journalists, scholars, students, truck drivers and others visitors.

Deputies also ratified an agreement on the readmission of illegal immigrants, the EU's main condition for easing visa rules.

The agreements, which have yet to be ratified by the EU, must be approved by the Federation Council and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said the documents signed at a Russia-EU summit last May would help expand mutual contacts.

"They would also help to intensify dialogue with the EU on a transfer to visa-free regime," Denisov told deputies.

The agreement follows years of tense talks amid often difficult Russia-EU relations, strained over energy, food imports and other issues.

Russia has long pushed for a mutual visa-free regime, but the EU has balked, fearing an influx of illegal immigrants.

Moscow has pledged gradually to create conditions for a visa-free regime with the EU by tightening porous borders with other former Soviet republics.