Russia to Introduce Visa free travel to Kenya

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula when he hosted Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs H.E Sergey Lavrov. [Josphat Thiong’o, Standard]

The Russian government is now working towards the introduction of visa-free travel for Kenyans interested in trade, medical services or education in the country.

This was revealed by Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov who had paid a courtesy call to National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula on Monday.

He affirmed that the move was aimed at boosting the movement of investors and citizens of the two countries.

"Russia is working on introducing visa-free travel to enable Kenyans easily access our country for either trade, medical services or education among others," he stated.

Adding that Russia had double scholarships for Kenyan students to Russia in an effort to ensure that more Kenyans join universities in Russia.

"Currently three schools in Russia are teaching Kiswahili," said the Minister.

Lavrov, while appreciating the relationship that has existed between the two countries, reiterated Russia's pledge to continue supporting Kenya in various sectors.

Key among them, he said, was the enhancement of trade relations between Kenya and Russia and consequently asked the Kenyan government to draft a Trade Agreement that guides how Kenya wants to engage in trade with Russia and have it approved by Parliament for implementation.

Lavrov had earlier held talks with President William Ruto at the State House, where they agreed to deepen ties between the two countries to increase trade volumes.

On his part, Speaker was concerned that Kenya was yet to benefit from trade with Russia despite the two countries enjoying a long-standing bilateral relationship.

He, however, pledged to ensure that the National Assembly would support the plan by the executive to stimulate trade between Kenya and Russia.

"National Assembly holds the pass to the trade ties for the national government. The House is ready to support efforts by the government to enhance trade with Russia through legislation," said Wetang'ula.

"Give us half of what you give to Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt or half of what you give to Turkey in terms of trade," he added.

The Speaker, while appreciating the relationship the countries have enjoyed since the establishment of the diplomatic relations in 1963, further called for support from Russia in ensuring that the National Assembly fully migrate to paperless operations of House business.

"Russia is one of the countries that have excelled in new technology. We need your support too to ensure that Parliament's decision to migrate to paperless transactions of House business is fully implemented".

He added that although Russia has been a key supporter of African continent, African leaders were still being treated as spectators during international meetings hosted by foreign countries.

"Russia's support to Africa has made the continent free but it is still worrying that African agenda in international meetings has been forgotten and our leaders are always treated as spectators during such forums," he added

The Speaker and the Russian Minister discussed Kenya's participation in the forthcoming Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum to be held in St Petersburg in July this year.

The Summit aims at providing a new constructive impetus to the development of Russia's multifaceted relations with African countries and bolster the policy of a comprehend equal partnership with African people.

The Minister pointed out that Russia was eyeing to promote tourism and Agriculture in Kenya.

Russian Ambassador to Kenya Mr Dmitry Maksimychev was among leaders who accompanied the Minister.

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