World / Europe

Moscow to suspend Russia-Turkey visa-free travel from 2016: FM

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-11-28 00:29

MOSCOW -- Russia has decided to suspend visa-free travel regime with Turkey from next year for fear of terrorism spreading, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Commenting on Russian nationals in Turkey who are considered as suspected terrorists by the Turkish authorities, Lavrov lashed out at Ankara for refusing many times to provide relevant information, saying there was a real threat of terrorists penetrating into Russia.

"These threats are very much real and we declare this with responsibility," he said at a press conference after talks with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, in Moscow.

This is the latest in a series of moves following the downing of a Russian Su-24 on Tuesday by Turkey.

By shooting down the fighter jet, Lavrov said, Turkey has crossed the redline and put itself in a difficult place both for long-term national interests and regional situation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called the downing a "stab in the back from accomplices of terrorists," and demanded a high level apology and a compensation for the damage.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has described the downing as an "act of aggression," and ordered the government to draft possible economic sanctions against Turkey.

Following the incident on Tuesday, Lavrov canceled a session of the Joint Russia-Turkey Strategic Planning Group Meeting in Turkey's Istanbul, and the Foreign Ministry suggested Russians scrap their trips to Turkey for tourism or any other aims, citing security concerns.

Russian tourist agencies have stopped booking trips to Turkey following the ministry's suggestions.

Russia and Turkey signed an agreement to cancel the visa regime between the two countries in October 2010 in order to promote tourism.

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