Russia tells citizens not to travel to Egypt

Egypt aug 15 riots j

The Moscow Times:

The Russian government advised its citizens not to travel to the Middle Eastern nation, one of the most popular holiday spots for middle-class Russians. But despite the sudden upheaval in the country, with Egyptian authorities having declared a nationwide state of emergency, the Federal Tourism Agency decided at a meeting Thursday not yet to evacuate any of the 40,000-60,000 Russian tourists estimated to be vacationing there currently, Interfax reported. The Federal Consumer Protection Agency said Russian tourists could ask to be evacuated from violent areas free of charge.

Given the significant number of Russians who visit Egypt on holiday, many of them staying at all-inclusive resorts on the Red Sea, both Russian and Egyptian tour companies and hotels stand to lose up to millions of dollars in canceled bookings, another blow to an already fragile Egyptian economy.

“The clashes and riots that began in the [Egyptian] capital are quickly spreading to other cities and areas of Egypt, including to those visited by tourists,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Given these conditions, the Russian Foreign Ministry recommends that Russian citizens refrain from trips to Egypt.”

At least a handful of Russians were caught up in the mayhem that took hold in parts of Cairo. A television crew from state news channel Rossia 24 was stopped in their car by armed men who threatened them with knives and took their computers, passports and about $6,000 in cash, one of the channel’s reporters told news agencies.

But no one was injured as a result of the incident, and the Russian Embassy in Cairo said no Russian citizens had sustained injuries in clashes in the city. The embassy’s consular section has been closed for two days due to the upheaval.