I have always been fascinated by the former Soviet Republics, and have included many of them on my list of countries to visit. I had the pleasure of visiting the three Baltic states, but those in Eastern Europe and Central Asia can be a bit tougher to get in.
But it looks like things might be changing, at least for Belarus. The former Soviet state just issued a presidential decree that will grant visa-free entry to citizens from 80 different nations. Holders of passports issued by these countries will be able to visit Belarus for 5 days without needing a visa. Eligible nationals include those from the European Union, Japan, Singapore, and the United States.
According to Reuters, this “waiver” will be applied to passengers arrive by plane. Most travelers will probably fly into Minsk, which is served by carriers from SkyTeam (Aeroflot) and Star Alliance (Air China, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines). Etihad also currently flies there, but is ending their route in late March.
There are a few caveats with this new presidential decree, though. This decree was signed on January 9, but will not go in effect for another month. Additionally, this waived visa requirement will not apply if you are entering Belarus through Russia, since there are no immigration checkpoints between the two nations. Additionally, nationals of China, Gambia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Lebanon, Namibia, Samoa, and Vietnam will need to have a visa from another European country in order to gain entry without a visa.
Will you visit Belarus because of this new decree?