The Latvian Embassy in Belarus has stopped charging Belarusian tourists for visas, which means a trip to the Baltic Sea and wonderful Riga gets 35 euros cheaper at once (a multiple visa used to cost 70 euros). Latvia decided to provide visas free of charge to facilitate contacts between Belarus and the European Union and give a boost to its tourist sector.
To tell the truth, Belarusian tourists to Latvia (22,500 last year alone) had long been waiting for such a move. In fact, once Polish and Lithuanian visas got much cheaper it was clear that Latvia would follow suit. Riga took rather long to make up its mind, but waiting was definitely worth it. However, visas became free for Ukrainians, Moldavians and Georgians even earlier.
There is a fly in the ointment, though: the second secretary of the Latvian Embassy in Minsk, Maria Yegorushkina, told me that after Latvia joined the Schengen agreement the situation would change. No one knows when it will happen, but the diplomat believes Latvia might request Schengen visas from tourists starting late 2007. All Schengen visas cost the same and visa charges are expected to grow.