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Russians protest in Gaza, demanding exit visas


GAZA, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - A group of about 50 Russian women protested on Saturday outside the government building in Gaza about the difficulties in obtaining exit visas to leave the territory.

Demonstrating with the Palestinian husbands and children, the women demanded to be allowed to cross into Egypt, which opened its border with Gaza on Saturday, as it does periodically, after a 40-day closure.

The Rafah crossing is due to be open for three days, chiefly to allow students and people needing medical attention to cross. Around 12,000 people applied to leave, but only a quarter are expected to get permission.

Gazan police moved the protesters from near the residence of Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas government of Gaza, to a sanctioned area for demonstrations. They insisted that no force was used.

Many Palestinians have Russian spouses after studying at universities in Russia.

Egypt is under pressure to permanently open the Rafah checkpoint, Gaza's only border crossing not with Israel, but has resisted, saying that the internationally recognized government of President Mahmoud Abbas should first be returned to the enclave.

Islamist movement Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, pushing the pro-presidential Fatah movement out after a series of clashes.

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