North Koreans and citizens from 17 other countries can now visit Russia’s Far East area using a free electronic visa, the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang announced on Wednesday.
Tests for the registration of e-visas have been available on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since August 1, the embassy said on its Facebook page.
In addition to North Korea, citizens of 17 countries can obtain e-visas through a “simplified” procedure: Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, India, Iran, Qatar, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Japan.
The e-visa is only valid for visitors entering and exiting Russia through designated border crossing points in the “territory of the free port of Vladivostok” such as the “Vladivostok air checkpoint (Knevichy) and the Vladivostok maritime checkpoint.”
Knevichy is an alias for Vladivostok International Airport.
Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East Alexander Galushka on Tuesday said the number of the border crossing points will increase to four from January 1, 2018.
Foreign citizens arriving in Russia with e-visas can travel “within the territory of the constituent entity of Russia which they entered” and leave the country “only through checkpoints of the constituent entity of Russia which they entered,” according to the official website of the Consular Department of the Russian foreign ministry.
The visitors are permitted to stay in the country up to eight days from the date of entry and can travel “within the territory of the constituent entity of Russia which they entered.”
North Koreans can apply for the e-visa free of charge, and do not require documents that can prove the purpose of their visit to Russia.
The single-entry visa is valid for 30 days from the date of the issuance, takes no more than four days to issue, and visitors are asked not to apply until 20 days before their trip.
The Russian government announced the scheme on June 5 this year, but said it would take a few months before “border crossing points are equipped with the necessary software and hardware.”
The government said that “the introduction of the simplified visa entry” would boost regional economies.
“[It] will increase the investment attractiveness of the Far Eastern Federal District and the number of business contacts to facilitate the implementation of projects with foreign participation and increase the number of foreign tourists.”
Russia and Pyongyang have recently boosted economic ties in the Far East.
The DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 17 that North Korea had begun operation of a ferry route between the country’s Rason port and Vladivostok.
The media said “Rajin-Vladivostok international tourist liner Mangyongbong would be operated by common efforts,” but did not say how frequent the trip would be.
On May 24, a spokesperson for the DPRK Foreign Ministry said the ferry was a “regular operation under an agreement between the DPRK and Russia.”
“This is a normal bilateral cooperation work aimed to expand the bilateral economic relations and deepen the friendship through humanitarian exchanges and visits.”
A visa waiver agreement between South Korea and Russia, allowing South Koreans to visit Russia for up to 60 days, came into effect in January 2014.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East
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