Sri Lanka ends visa extensions to war-hit Russians, Ukrainians

Colombo (TIP): Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians staying in Sri Lanka on extended visas due to the war have been asked to leave the island nation within two weeks, officials said.
The immigration controller has issued a notice to the tourism ministry that the Russian and Ukrainian tourists must leave the country within two weeks from February 23 as their visas have lapsed, they said.
Over 3,00,000 Russians, 20,000 Ukrainians have arrived since the war broke out in 2022. They have been asked to leave in 2 weeks.
President Zelenskyy admits 31,000 troops have been killed so far in the war.
However, President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office issued a notice that says he has ordered an investigation as to how the decision to ask them to leave had been made without a cabinet decision to revoke the previous extension of stay.
The President’s Media Division said the Sri Lankan Government had not officially decided to revoke the visa extensions previously granted to these tourists.
Russian and Ukrainian tourists had been allowed extended stays in the country due to the war breaking out between the two European countries. Nearly 3,00,000 Russians and 20,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Sri Lanka since the outbreak of the war in 2022.
However, the number of tourists currently residing on the island nation on extended visas is not available.
Authorities said the decision to allow them longer stays was then made because of flight shortages.
Immigration authorities said there had been complaints of abuse of tourist visas by Russian and Ukrainian nationals running illegal businesses, employing foreigners, and deploying payment methods for services bypassing local systems. (PTI)

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