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Russia launches compulsory medical exams for foreigners

A doctor writes a prescription. (Libreshot.com/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A controversial new law requiring foreigners in Russia to undergo health checks every three months, including for sexually transmitted diseases, has gone into effect.

As of December 29, nearly all foreigners in the country must pass medical exams for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and COVID-19, among other diseases.

Their blood will also be tested for the presence of illegal drugs, and they must submit fingerprints and other biometric data. Some will be subjected to X-rays and CT scans.

Those who refuse to comply could have their work permits revoked, while Belarusian citizens, children under the age of 6, and diplomats are among those exempt from the new requirements.

The foreign business community has warned that the new measures could prompt an exodus of managers and other business representatives.

In mid-December, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down such concerns and offered assurances that President Vladimir Putin “is in favor of creating the most comfortable conditions for foreign businesses here — for investors and foreign specialists.”

The Health Ministry has also suggested that the health checks would not actually have to be completed every three months, despite wording stating otherwise.

Critics also warn that the new measures will allow the Russian government to expand its data collection on foreigners and could negatively affect the country’s hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.