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President orders probe into circular affecting Russian and Ukrainian tourists in SL: Embassy awaits outcome

February 27, Colombo (LNW): Following President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directive to launch an immediate investigation into the circular instructing overstaying Russian and Ukrainian tourists to depart within 14 days, the Russian Embassy in Colombo has issued a statement expressing its anticipation for the outcome of the investigation initiated by the President.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the embassy emphasised that, at present, there is no official information available on the matter.

The spokesperson reiterated that this issue is regarded as an internal affair between Sri Lanka and Russia, and unlike other nations, Russia refrains from intervening in such matters.

Meanwhile, the embassy, in a previously released press statement, reiterated its call for all Russian citizens in Sri Lanka, whether visiting for tourism or residing permanently, to adhere strictly to Sri Lankan laws and customs.

Earlier, a circular issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration stipulated that Ukrainian and Russian nationals residing in Sri Lanka for an extended period must depart within 14 days.

This directive was issued in consideration of the halt in flights to their respective home countries following the Russia-Ukraine conflict outbreak.

These individuals had been permitted to stay in Sri Lanka since February 28, 2022, for a duration of two years, with visa extensions and without penalties for expired tourist visas.

However, President Wickremesinghe has ordered the revocation of this circular and initiated an investigation into the matter.

It is noteworthy that Sri Lanka relies on Russia as a significant tourism market, with direct flights transporting tourists from Russia to Sri Lanka.

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