Communists ask Putin to expand Russian flights ban to Tunisia & Turkey

© Andrey Iglov
Russian MPs representing the Communist Party have written to the resident saying that the security situation in Turkey and Tunisia is just as dire as in Egypt, and therefore passenger flights to these countries should also be banned.

“We ask you to consider including the republics of Turkey and Tunisia in the list of territories where Russian airline companies were temporarily banned to deliver passengers by the presidential decree issued on November 8,” reads the letter signed by State Duma deputies Valeriy Rashkin and Sergey Obukhov.

The lawmakers noted in their message that the recent deadly crash of the Russian A231 airliner in Egypt could have been caused by a terrorist attack, adding that several leading politicians, including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, British State Secretary Philip Hammond and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon named terrorism as a very probable reason behind the disaster.

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Rashkin and Obukhov said they proposed Turkey and Tunisia to be included in the ban because these countries are within the Islamic State terrorist organization’s sphere of influence (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). “Seven terrorist attacks have occurred in Turkey in less than a year. Two coastal hotels were attacked in Tunisia in June,” the letter reads.
The Russian Foreign Ministry already lists some areas in Turkey and Tunisia as places not recommended for visiting. In Turkey this is the south of the country and in Tunisia – its whole territory “with the exceptions of safe tourist-oriented regions.”

Upper house MP Igor Morozov, a member of the chamber’s International Relations Committee, supported the Communists’ idea.

“Turkey and Tunisia remain among the few destinations of mass tourism today, but the security situation there leaves a lot to be desired,” Morozov told RIA Novosti. “The main task the Russian government must pursue through canceling flights to Turkey and Tunisia is to make the governments of these countries take a more serious approach to security in the tourist sector – airports, hotels and major places of interest,” the senator said. “The main task for Russia is to keep its citizens safe and not to replenish the state budgets of some foreign countries,” he added.

Morozov also noted that, as well as banning flights to unsafe foreign countries, the government should take measures to develop a domestic tourism industry and infrastructure in Crimea and the Caucasus region.

“The government has a real chance to make domestic resorts in high demand and they simply have no right not to use this chance,” he said.

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The Kogalymavia A231 air crash took place over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt on October 31. All 224 people on board the plane were killed, making it the deadliest air accident in modern Russian aviation history.

After the disaster, President Vladimir Putin ordered the cessation of all passenger flights to Egypt, and those returning must have their luggage carried by separate flights conducted by the Emergencies Ministry.