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Sri Lanka to end visa extensions granted to war-hit Russian and Ukrainian tourists

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Sri Lanka to end visa extensions granted to war-hit Russian and Ukrainian tourists


Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
| Photo Credit: AP

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.

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 that the Sri Lankan government has 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 300,000 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 have 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.



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