Ukrainians Given Leeway To Aussie Visas

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By Athena Yenko | March 6, 2014 2:09 PM EST

Ukrainian nationals who were presently in Australia were given leeway to Australian visas while Ukraine is still under threat. This allows them to stay in the country until their safety is guaranteed.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced on March 5.

For those Ukrainians whose visas are due to expire, they were advised to coordinate with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to make the necessary adjustments on their visas. Further visa adjustments would also be welcome if the situation in Ukraine continued to be threatening for travelers.

Australian government had also advised its citizens against traveling to Ukraine.

For those Australians who were already in Ukraine, they were urged to log on to the Government's Smartraveller Web site for comprehensive travel advisory.

Meanwhile in Crimea, United Nations Peace Envoy Robert Serry was threatened by a group of armed pro-Russian militiamen. Serry's car was blocked in Simferopol, capital city of the peninsula.

He traveled to Ukraine on March 5 after he was delegated by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. He was particularly instructed to "to travel to Crimea to take stock and evaluate the situation there." 

"Serry has just informed us that his car in Simferopol was blocked by unknown people in uniforms and they told him they were under orders to take him to the airport. He refused to go and was seized and is effectivey being held by a group of unknown people as a hostage," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said.

But a conflicting local report by James Mates, editor for ITV news, said Serry was blocked by "protesters chanting Putin, Putin!"

Serry and his envoy then convened to a nearby coffee shop and decided themselves to end their mission in Crimea.

"Very unpleasant incident over. Robert Serry said very happy to leave Crimea if it helped de escalate the situation," Mates wrote on his twitter.

In recent reports, Ukraine had agreed to speak directly with Moscow and welcome international aids and media within the eastern areas of the country and Crimea. The agreement happened during a meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry,  the Foreign Secretary  of the United Kingdom , William Hague, and the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andriy Deshchytsia.

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