As of Friday morning, the number of Hasidic pilgrims in front of Novi Yarylovychi checkpoint on the border with Belarus has slightly decreased, and now there are about 700 people, said the speaker of the State Border Service of Ukraine Andriy Demchenko.
“As of 10:00, we have information that the number of foreign pilgrims has slightly decreased. If yesterday morning and evening there were about a thousand of them, then at the moment there may be about 700 of them,” said Demchenko to the Interfax-Ukraine agency on Friday.
He also said that he hopes that the pilgrims heeded to the calls of the State Border Service.
‘It’s radical to say that they left largely – we do not observe such a situation yet, and we do not have such information. But we hope that those foreigners nevertheless heeded to the explanations that our employees gave them, emphasizing that the decision to ban entry for foreigners will not be revised until September 28 and they will not be able to enter the territory of our state, taking into account the fact that the purpose of their trip was a pilgrimage, which does not fall under the category of exceptions for foreigners who can enter the territory of our country,” Demchenko said.
The speaker also reported that pilgrims are trying to get to Ukraine through other checkpoints, but these are isolated cases, and after arriving at the passport control line, they are denied entry and return back.
“This situation happens every day, through other checkpoints along the state border in general. But these are single citizens or very small groups of foreigners. When they arrive at the passport control line, they are denied entry and return back,” Demchenko said.
In turn, the official representative of the State Border Committee of Belarus Anton Bychkovsky said that about 600 Hasidic pilgrims out of about 1,200 who were blocked at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border have left it and are returning deep into Belarus.
“Now 570 Hassid pilgrims are leaving the border,” Bychkovsky said.
According to him, after passing through passport control, the pilgrims get on buses and leave the border deep into Belarus.
Earlier, hundreds of Hasidic pilgrims gathered near Novi Yarylovychi – Nova Huta checkpoint, wishing to get to the Ukrainian city of Uman to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Belarusian border guards allowed the pilgrims to pass, but Ukrainian border guards did not allow them to enter the territory of Ukraine due to restrictions on the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons into the country, introduced in order to combat the spread of coronavirus.