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Uzbekistan Moves To Abolish Exit Visas

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev has floated a plan to abolish long-standing rules requiring citizens to obtain government permission if they want to travel abroad.

A draft of a presidential decree posted on a government website includes, among other things, a clause under which exit visas would be abolished.

The draft indicated that the decision to scrap exit visas would come in the third quarter of 2017 -- July-September -- but it was unclear when the policy would actually be implemented.

The exit-visa system inherited from the Soviet era has been a tremendous barrier for Uzbeks seeking to leave the country for any reason as it requires regular renewal, costs money, and involves lengthy bureaucratic procedures to obtain.

Uzbekistan is the only former Soviet republic that still requires exit visas.

Mirziyaev's plan to abolish exit visas is one of a number of initiatives that appears aimed to open up the tightly controlled Central Asian nation following his election after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov, which was announced on September 3.

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