2020-09-15 18:20:00

Ukraine asks Belarus not to allow Hasidic pilgrims gathering at border to cross it

Kiev, September 15, Interfax - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has requested that Belarus not process documents allowing persons to enter the country who are not subject to the exceptions to the governmental decree banning foreign citizens and stateless persons from entering the territory of Ukraine from August 28 to September 28, 2020.

"In order to prevent the illegal entry of groups of foreigners to Ukraine, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has requested that Belarus not process the documents of persons for whom exceptions don't apply, permitting them entry into Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Arrivals of groups of foreign citizens at the Ukrainian-Belarusian section of the state border have been recorded over the past few days, and they are trying to enter Ukraine to celebrate Rosh Hashanah despite the entry restrictions, the statement said.

In light of this, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has drawn the attention of foreign citizens and stateless persons to the need for "unwavering compliance with the Ukrainian legislation dealing with entering and staying on its territory."

The Foreign Ministry has also called on all travelers to respect the current border control regulations and not provoke difficult situations at border crossing points.

The Belarusian State Border Committee said earlier on Tuesday that more than 700 people, including over 100 children, have gathered at the Novy Yarylovychi-Novaya Guta checkpoint in anticipation of being allowed to enter Ukraine.

The photographs provided by the State Border Committee show that these people are Hasidim. Several media outlets said earlier that the pilgrims waiting to be given permission to cross the Ukrainian border plan to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Uman, Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has received a report on the situation at the border. He has ordered that "all necessary assistance" be provided to the pilgrims. "The president has monitored the pilgrims' time in the country from the start," the First Man's Pool Telegram channel close to the Belarusian presidential press service said.

Ukrainian State Border Guard Service head Serhiy Deineko, in turn, reported to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday that a new wave of pilgrims is expected at the border. "We're forecasting the arrival of up to 1,000 people at the border in the Chernihiv region, up to 700 in the Zhytomyr region, and up to 1,500 in the Volyn region," Deineko said. Three more planes with 600 foreign pilgrims are to land in Minsk in the near future, he said.

"The situation at the border is manageable," Deineko said.

According to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, people started arriving at the border from Belarus in the afternoon on September 14. Ukrainian border guards in cooperation with Ukraine's National Guard and National Police set up a cordon on the border 700 meters from the Novy Yarylovychi checkpoint.

Personnel from the National Academy, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service, and the Sumy border detachment are involved in reinforcing the Belarusian section of the border.

The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service has organized interaction with the Belarusian State Border Committee and is in contact with the Israeli embassy to Ukraine and the rabbis of Jewish religious organizations providing water and kosher food to the Hasidic pilgrims.

Deineko met with the people gathering at the border earlier and read out the Ukrainian government decree restricting entry into the country. Every foreign citizen must respect Ukraine's laws and regulations dealing with the crossing of the state border, he said.