12 Mar 2019 21:46

Russian Foreign Ministry warns Russian citizens about possible problems of trips to Azerbaijan

MOSCOW. March 12 (Interfax) - The Russian Foreign Ministry has published the information warning Russian citizens about possible risks of trips to Azerbaijan on its website.

"As despite numerous Russian petitions the practice of banning Russian citizens of Armenian origin from the entry to Azerbaijan is continuing, the Russian Foreign Ministry has published the relevant instructions in the section 'Warnings for Russian Citizens,'" the Foreign Ministry information and press department said in a commentary.

"Under the pretext of the unsettled Nagorno Karabakh conflict the Azerbaijani border service is still denying the entry to the country to persons regardless of their citizenship with direct or indirect signs of belonging to the Armenian nationality. This is motivated by the incapability to ensure personal security of these persons," according to the Foreign Ministry instructions.

"Numerous petitions of the Russian side to the Azerbaijani side regarding the unacceptability of ethnic discriminatory actions with respect to Russian citizens who want to travel to Azerbaijan are disregarded," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Given these circumstances we insistently recommend that Russian citizens thoroughly reckon possible risks when planning trips to Azerbaijan," according to the ministry's directives.

On January 11, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova urged Baku to abandon the discriminatory policy against Russian citizens of Armenian nationality and no longer ban them from the entry to Azerbaijan.

These incidents have unfortunately already become "a bad and wrong" tradition, she said, noting that the Russian Foreign Ministry had learnt about 16 instances of denying Russian citizens the entry to Azerbaijan over their ethnic identity in 2018. Meanwhile, the Russians "have been held at the airport for many hours and later were forcibly expelled from the country without any official reasons," she said.

Russia has already repeatedly said to Azerbaijan that the current situation is unacceptable and called for ending the practice of detentions and expulsions, "because this is inconsistent with friendly relations between the two countries," Zakharova said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry was discontent with Azerbaijan's response to these statements.

On January 18, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it has familiarized with the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry press service's reaction to the reports about denying Russian citizens of Armenian descent the entry to that country. "We stress the tone of the commentary is inconsistent with diplomatic decency. Its content only with the demands 'not to fuel' the issue of discrimination against Russian citizens who are travelling to Azerbaijan as allegedly insignificant against the backdrop of robust progressive enhancement of bilateral relations is no less puzzling," the statement reads.

"This approach is certainly unacceptable," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "Depending on Azerbaijan's substantive reaction we will decide on our further steps," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

About 880,000 Russian tourists visited Azerbaijan in 2018.