Bangkok residents travelling on a bus in Thailand. Picture: Reuters
Bangkok residents travelling on a bus in Thailand. Picture: Reuters

Russian stuck on island off Thailand 'waiting for a miracle'

By Dmitriy Turlyun Time of article published Apr 1, 2020

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Moscow - Vladimir Savelyov, a Russian stuck on an island off Thailand, is among 25 000 Russian nationals stranded far from home because of myriad restrictions on transport imposed over the coronavirus.

Savelyov, who lives in China, went on what looked like a routine trip to Thailand to renew his visa, but was trapped after travel to and from an island he visited was abruptly stopped.

"Leaving by road is not an option, nor is by boat and now you can't even fly because the flights were cancelled," he said.

"Basically, we're sitting here and waiting for a miracle."

Russia, which has reported 2 777 coronavirus cases on its soil, last week suspended international flights in and out of the country, with the exception of special flights to repatriate its own citizens.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday 25 000 people abroad had appealed for help getting home. But some of the stranded tourists complained the response had been limited.

"Ten days have already passed (and) we realised that calling the embassy makes no sense," said Maxim Mikhailov, a professional volleyball player, who is stuck in the small Balkans republic of Montenegro.

"There is just nothing to do here, we just wait as life passes by. I really want to get back to Russia."

Darya Kochelaevskaya, another Russian tourist in Montenegro, said the response from Russia's foreign ministry and its local embassy was always the same: "There is no information. Wait."

Others said they were worried about money as they were unable to work while abroad and had also taken a hit from the rouble currency's plunge in value amid coronavirus-related uncertainty and plummeting prices for oil, Russia's main export.

"The money isn't endless, money runs out, even despite help from our hosts," said Artem Rodionov, another tourist in Montenegro.

"It's depressing basically, and I should have gone (back) to work by now, but this uncertainty... Just like other people, we can't even work out how many days it will last."


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