Senate security official moots restricting Russians from visiting Turkey

© Ruslan Krivobok
The deputy head of the Upper House committee for defense and security has said the authorities should ban tourism to Turkey, but noted this should be a temporary measure and that visits for family or business reasons must still be allowed.

We should think of some way to stop our travelers going to Turkey, even on weekends, because we have May holidays approaching. Before some disaster happens, we should restrict the flow of people, as a provisionary measure,” RIA Novosti quoted Frants Klintsevich as saying on Wednesday. The senator was referring to two “long weekends” that will take place May 1-3 and 7-9, to celebrate the Labor Day and Victory Day holidays.

Klintsevich also reminded reporters of the Interior Ministry’s initiative to create an official list of dangerous nations and only allow Russians to go there for business or family matters. “Turkey is the first candidate to appear on this list,” he said.

READ MORE: Restrict Russian tourism to countries with increased terrorist threat, say leftists in draft bill

The proposal to allow the government to introduce temporary bans on tourist travel to countries where the terrorist threat to Russian citizens is especially high was made in November 2015 by lawmakers representing the center-left opposition Fair Russia party. The party leader Sergey Mironov told reporters at the time that the proposed legislative move was in response to the downing of a Russian Sukhoi-24 aircraft by two Turkish fighter jets as it was conducting an anti-terrorist mission in Syria.

After the attack relations between Russia and Turkey cooled extremely quickly. Russian tourist companies stopped selling trips to Turkey and flights there were only made to retrieve holidaymakers who were already in the country. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has advised all Russian citizens to avoid taking trips to Turkey.

Late last November, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey, banning the import of certain Turkish goods and the work of some Turkish companies and organizations in Russia. The decree also ordered all Russian tourist companies to stop selling trips to Turkey. The government was instructed to cease all charter flights to the country and take measure to deal with the illegal presence of Turkish ships in Russian ports.

READ MORE: Putin approves economic sanctions against Turkey following downing of Russian warplane