They helped foreign citizens to survive “confinement” in Russian airports
Interruptions in flights, caused by volcanic eruption in Iceland, and a cloud of volcanic ash hanging over a large part of Europe put in a hopeless situation thousands of people around the world. The passengers of canceled flights were forced to huddle in airports, many of them with expired visas. Only at the beginning of the week flights began slowly to recover and people were able to get home.
Whenever possible, the government and the airline tried to help trapped tourists. In particular, to control the situation in accordance with the decree of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a special situation room was created, headed by First Deputy Minister Andrey Denisov – by information of the press service of MFA. The situation room staff included representatives of the Security Department, Information and Press Department, the Consular Department.
Their task was to coordinate work of diplomatic and consular establishments of Russia to assist Russian citizens, who cannot return home. On the other hand, the staff involved in assisting foreigners detained on the territory of Russia.
According to official representative of MFA Andrei Nesterenko: “To solve the problem with foreign nationals, detained on the territory of Russia in connection with the termination of international air traffic to Europe, from April 16 consular posts of Russian MFA work in intense regime in the airports Vnukovo, Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo (doubled number of employees) and Pulkovo-2 (available in 24-hour).
Citizens of EU countries with expired Russian visas have been able to renew it for free for 72 hours. In addition, customs service of FSS of Russia allowed letting through foreigners with expired visas not more than three days ago.
As a result of intensive work of consular posts of Russian MFA more than thousands of visas were issued to foreigners. Visas were issued directly in the airport Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Pulkovo-2 and Vnukovo.
Russian citizens also tried to help tourists in difficult situations. So GZT.RU found girls who have created a special community in Live Journal. For three days they went to Sheremetyevo with a group of volunteers to help passengers of canceled flights.
The organizers of the community say that their worst fears were not justified. Whenever possible, acceptable conditions were created for foreigners. The only serious problem was the language barrier. And as a consequence, the failures in organization and coordination of people.
Other hostages of volcano and visa regime became Vietnam airlines passengers on their way from Ho Chi Minh to Paris – said InoSMI. At first, everything went well, and the aircraft was allowed to fly, but because of the weather conditions the plane made an emergency landing in Moscow. It is clear that none of the passengers has an entry visa to Russia, so at the Russian customs it was decided to place the passengers in airport hotel without right to leave the territory.
Of course, the passengers were outraged by this situation, but the visa regime involves the occurrence of such situations – especially in emergency. So, as noted by Russian Permanent Representative in EU Vladimir Chizhov in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS: “The best way to avoid problems with visas is to abolish them.”
Of course, now this and all other difficult situations are resolved and the air communication is restored.
However, the problems that are so vividly highlighted by awakened volcano remains. In particular, they will be analyzed on 6 May at the planned meeting of the Joint Working Group of Air Transport in Brussels – Russian delegation headed by deputy head of core ministry Valery Okulov.
According to Mr. Chizhov: “The one thing is clear: the problem must be solved with integrated approach. In the relations between Russia and the EU, this question will be discussed at the scientific and transport links through the Emergency Situations Ministry and Foreign Affairs”.