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Russians fleeing mobilisation will not automatically get French visas - minister

FILE PHOTO: A person holds a Russian Passport at Vaalimaa border crossing point between Russia and Finland, in Vaalimaa, Finland, September 23, 2022. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

French Junior Minister for European Affairs Laurence Boone said on Wednesday that Russians fleeing their country to avoid being mobilised in the Russian army would not automatically get visas to remain in France, but that their situation and any security risks would be considered.

"We have limited conditions under which visas can be given. We will make sure dissident journalists, people who fight the regime, artists and students can still come here, and we will issue visas on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the security risks," she said in an interview with franceinfo radio.

Asked whether all Russian army deserters would be welcomed on European soil, she said each case would be looked at individually and that the procedure to get a visa for the Schengen space would be extended to 40 days from the usual 15 in order to conduct an investigation into the person who requests a visa or political asylum.

"We want to preserve access to political asylum in Europe to people who really need it and to avoid security risks," she said, adding that several countries much closer to Russia want to completely close their borders to Russians wanting to leave their country.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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