Czechs to propose EU tightens passport rules for Russians

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Russian passports are pictured during production at Goznak printing factory in Moscow, Russia July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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PRAGUE, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic will ask European Union partners to only allow entry into the border control-free Schengen area to Russians who hold biometric passports, Czech Interior Minister Vita Rakusan said on Wednesday.

"We will call on our European colleagues... to require Russian citizens (to hold) biometric passports for entering the Schengen area so we have clear certainty that the person entering with the passport really is that person," Rakusan said.

Most of the bloc is part of the Schengen zone.

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Rakusan said he would also work with the foreign ministry on possible tightening visa issuance rules for Russians while creating special visas for people persecuted in Russia for being associated with Russian opposition, he said.

The steps are part of a response to the conflict in Ukraine, he said.

The EU and NATO member, home to a 260,000-strong Ukrainian community, has been preparing for a potential influx of refugees from Ukraine but for the time being there have not been any signs of increased interest in any type of residency permits, Rakusan said.

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Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alex Richardson

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