Armenia’s civil aviation authority said on Friday that it has censured the Czech Republic’s national airline for ordering its passengers flying to Yerevan to fill out Russian immigration forms.
The CSA airline handed out Russian “migration cards” on at least one of the daily Prague-Yerevan flights carried out by it this week. One of the passengers told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that he refused to fill out such a form despite being warned by a flight attendant that he may not be allowed to leave the plane at Yerevan airport. But he said dozens of other Westerners on board the plane obliged.
The immigration form available on the website of the Russian Federal Migration Service lists 10 questions for foreigners arriving in Russia as well as Belarus. One of them is about the purpose of their visit.
The Armenian government’s Civil Aviation Department claimed to be unaware of the Russian documents used by the Prague-Yerevan flight operator when asked for comment earlier this week. A senior official there told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Friday that the department has conducted an investigation and found that CSA did hand out such forms. It has issued a “strict reprimand” to the Czech carrier, he added.
The CSA’s Yerevan office, meanwhile, said that the distribution of the Russian immigration forms was the result of a mere “misunderstanding.” It did not comment further.
Shahen Petrosian, who ran the Armenian civil aviation agency in the early and mid-1990s, claimed that CSA did so at the behest of Russian security services. He said the Russians are keen to obtain information about foreigners travelling to Armenia, a prospective member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.
Unlike Russia, Armenia does not require visas from citizens of the European Union member states. A senior official in Yerevan announced in May, that the Armenian government plans to unilaterally lift visa requirements for U.S. citizens as well.