Where Is A Fine Line Between Egypt Travel Ban and the Iron Curtain?
625 views   /  7 Nov 2015
The last night ban of flights from Russia to Egypt was a hasty decision; hopefully the case doesn’t set a precedent to further travel bans from the Russian government.
By Afanasiy Pervomaisky
Since yesterday Russians can no longer fly to Egypt, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich revealed. The government made the decision following the tragic crash of the Kogalymavia flight 9268 in the Sinai Peninsula that killed all 224 people on board.
“As of now, there are no flights to Egypt out of Russian airports. We ask all citizens and tourists to understand that security is of primary concern. The price of each life has no limits or borders, and these are our first concerns,” Dvorkovich told media on Friday night.
Meanwhile, there are somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 Russian citizens currently in Egypt. According to media reports, the Russian government is now working on plans to return these holidaymakers from Egyptian resorts.
It sounds like the right and timely decision made by Russian politicians, who suddenly out of the goodness of their hearts decided to protect their compatriots from terrorists and other evil things that are happening outside of Russia. However, in my opinion, the decision is too extreme, because it might lead to further travel limits, thus reducing our civil liberties.
Before I start, let me clarify that my prayers go out to the families and friends of those 224 people who died on board of the Russian Airbus A321. It was a horrible tragedy that affected many Russian families and may the souls of the victims forever rest in peace. I understand that the country is taken aback in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, however I think politicians shouldn’t make hasty decisions without considering all the details and at least waiting for the official result of the airplane crash investigation.
Older folks in Russia still vividly remember the times when one couldn’t travel to most countries in the world due to the Iron Curtain. That’s why I’m pretty sure that such a commanding tone from the government on Friday night put them at unease. It sure had that effect on me.
Yevgeny Marchenko, a Russian lawmaker from St. Petersburg, has already sent an official letter to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs urging it to forbid the travel of Russian citizens to Turkey and Thailand, in addition to Egypt. Marchenko was suddenly concerned about the well-being of his compatriots overseas, because in his opinion Russians have a higher chance of getting hurt in Turkey and Thailand due to poor road conditions, crimes against tourists, extreme weather, the high possibility of food and alcohol poisoning, according to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
I don’t even know where to start to point out the absurdity of Marchenko’s statement. First of all, I’d argue that both Thailand and Turkey have probably better roads than Russia; second of all, if some people choose to get blackout drunk and engage in certain behaviors that might lead to trouble why should that hold others from enjoying their vacation in these countries; and his point about extreme weather – give me a break, seriously. Also, before speaking like this, Marchenko should probably show the public his passport making sure it doesn’t have border stamps from visiting Turkey, Thailand and Egypt in the past. If Marchenko indeed never visited these countries, I’ll take his word more seriously.
In any case, in my opinion, a prohibition law is never a good thing. Well, of course when it comes to prohibiting illegal substances and practices it’s one thing, but when it’s a law that bans travel to certain countries or regions of the world simply on the basis of perceived danger – it’s too much. The Russian government at least should have waited for the official result of the plane crash investigation before making such an important decision. What if it was a technical failure that brought down the plane and not terrorists?
One thing might lead to another and the next thing we know is a series of travel bans to a variety of countries due to a bunch of illogical decisions and perceived danger. For example, what if people with children will be banned from visiting the Netherlands in the future, because some moral warriors in the Russian government wouldn’t want Russian children to see same-sex couples walking in the street and holding hands?
At the end of the day, if grown adults want to travel to any places in the world, dangerous or not, they should be able to do so without restrictions from their government. Now, if the government of a receiving country thinks that it’s dangerous for foreigners to visit that country, then it’s a different thing. For example, if the Syrian government one day decides to ban the arrival of foreign visitors in Syria it’s one thing, but when our government bans us from visiting another country – it’s a completely different situation and nothing but the encroachment on our civil liberties.
Disclaimer: the views and opinions contained in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Russian Accent.
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