Thu, 04 Jun 2020

Russia said it will resume evacuating tens of thousands of its citizens stuck overseas as countries ban international flights in their battle to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Russia on April 4 canceled all international flights to evacuate its citizens to prevent the import of the virus, local media reported.

However, Vice-Premier Tatyana Golikova said later that day that the government was taking a two-day pause in returning citizens in order to review the citizen data it had.

She said the government would create a new timetable of flights for citizens on April 6.

The temporary halt of flights was necessary "for a clear understanding' of who the citizens are, how many there are, and what their Russian destination is, she said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that there are more than 30,000 Russian citizens currently abroad while Golikova said about 26,000 are seeking to return.

However, she said the government has not been able to identify half of the citizens seeking to return.

Furthermore, she also said the government wants to fly as many people as possible directly to the home city because the nation's international airports don't have enough space to keep the passengers under observation. All passengers will be asked to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, she said.

About two-thirds of Russian citizens asking to be evacuated are based in Thailand, which recently announced onerous requirements for foreigners to legally extend their stay. Thailand is a popular destination for Russians, many of whom spend the winters in the Southeast Asian country.

Russians seeking to return home are required to fill out an online form and wait for the government to give them a date to be flown back.

The government has given the Foreign Ministry 500 million rubles ($6.25 million) to help passengers stranded. The ministry will pay a daily allowance for the days citizens are stuck in other countries starting from the day of their originally booked return flight until the day of their evacuation.

The ministry will pay adults 2,400 rubles ($30) per day while children under 14 will receive 1,600 ($20).

With reporting by RBC, Kommersant, Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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