Posted 21 августа 2020,, 18:13

Published 21 августа 2020,, 18:13

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

What the Foreign Ministry is silent about: thousands of Russians are left on their own abroad due to the COVID

What the Foreign Ministry is silent about: thousands of Russians are left on their own abroad due to the COVID

21 августа 2020, 18:13
Thousands of Russians are still waiting for the export flights abroad. Five months in a foreign land became a test of survival.

While the Foreign Ministry issues regular portions of victorious reports about how Russia does not abandon its own people, compatriots survive literally at the expense of the host countries' mercy. Four questions that the diplomats did not answer.

Julia Suntsova

On July, 27, Novye Izvestia published the publication The trial by Paradise. Thousands of Russians have not been able to return to their homeland already for six months”, in which the problems of compatriots still staying abroad due to COVID-19 were voiced. After months of staying in a foreign land, many fellow citizens found themselves in a truly dire situation. Without work and livelihood, with expired visas and insurances, without the necessary medical care. And most importantly - without a clear understanding of how to physically get out of a foreign country in the absence of money, special export flights, in conditions of closed air borders. Citizens also complained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the working group and the website of the State Services stopped receiving answers to inquiries.

To obtain clarifications on the support measures subsidized by the state, the editorial board of Novye Izvestia made an official request to the Foreign Ministry. In response, she received a four-page accusation of "unprofessional attitude to the case" and, for one, an invitation to an interview at the Foreign Ministry to prepare another, "high-quality material." Such publications, in the opinion of Aleksey Zaitsev, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department, "negate the difficult work done by the Foreign Ministry and all the departments involved in returning Russian citizens home."

Meanwhile, in a long letter with many common phrases, the answers to the main questions about the situation with the stranded citizens, among whom, by the way, not only tourists, but also those who were abroad at the time of the flight stop for study or work, were not answered. on treatment or participated in various international programs.

Trapped in remote corners of the planet found themselves in a particularly difficult position. According to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on June 29, “in places inaccessible to Russian aviation”: in the Philippines, Oceania, Latin America and other remote locations, at least 20 thousand Russians remain.

In response to an editorial request, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs counts “just over 5 thousand people, including family members”, who are currently staying abroad, only of those who received financial assistance under Resolution No. 433.

One way or another, we are talking about thousands of Russians still awaiting export flights.

"The campaign organized by the state to export compatriots staying abroad in the context of the rapid spread of coronavirus infection continues even against the backdrop of a partial resumption of regular flights with a number of countries," the Foreign Ministry said. (Under the partial resumption of flights, the department means the opening of the UK, Tanzania and Turkey). What are these mentioned campaigns really?

Government-sponsored humanitarian special flights are actually much more like commercial ones. For returning to Russia, passengers are obliged to pay sums that are many times greater than for flights to the same destinations in "peacetime" by regular charter or regular flights. The officials are delicately silent about this. Most citizens return at their own expense, despite the fact that the Russian government has allocated to airlines (Aeroflot Group of Companies) target 23 billion rubles to recover losses caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Working Group Agreement, which provided for the return of citizens to the country at the expense of a previously purchased unused ticket, was equally ignored. So, for example, an "export flight" from Fiji - an independently found complex combination of non-Russian charters with a hub in Italy and a docking with a Russian export flight from Rome cost the returnees about 150 thousand rubles. The Russian Foreign Ministry seriously reported on this Rome-Moscow flight as a special export flight from Fiji!

The second question is why the social assistance to citizens guaranteed by Resolution No. 433 was actually terminated? Almost 2 billion rubles were allocated from the government reserve fund to the Foreign Ministry specifically to support Russians stranded abroad due to coronavirus. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin drew attention to the fact that compensations for accommodation, meals and other urgent needs will be paid until the return of citizens to Russia or the resumption of regular flights. However, in June the amount of state aid fell sharply. According to the aforementioned decree, Russian citizens who are on the territory of a foreign state and who are unable to return to the Russian Federation due to the spread of a new coronavirus infection were entitled to daily financial aid from budgetary allocations (2,400 rubles for an adult and 1,600 rubles for a child under 14 years old). On June 12 and July 21, notifications were sent en masse to the personal accounts of the applicants on the State Services, which actually meant a refusal to pay. Many people testified that they never received the promised material aid, and therefore class actions are being initiated against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thus, the Presnensky District Court is currently starting a process in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation appears as an administrative defendant, and the Federal Treasury is involved in the co-defendants. The claim was accepted for production, the first meeting took place on August 4, said Irina Uibo and Anton Kolesnikov, who are the engines of this legal proceeding.

The applicants ask the court to declare illegal the inaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry, expressed in the failure to fulfill its obligations to consider applications from citizens for assistance.

Clause 2 of the Regulation on the provision of social support (assistance) to Russian citizens, approved by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 433 dated April 3, 2020 (hereinafter - the Regulation) gave the right to receive social support (assistance) from the Russian Federation. A number of changes were made to the said Regulation by Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation of May 29, 2020 No. 787 and of April 30, 2020 No. 621, which significantly change the procedure for providing assistance (including restrictions that worsen the position of the Applicants), the claim says.

In its response, the editorial staff of the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in general, does not deny: it seems that you can forget about Resolution No. 433, because there is another resolution - No. 370 ... “ according to the current Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 370, citizens of Russia still have the right to help from the state in returning to their homeland in case of a threat to their lives, ”writes Alexey Zaitsev.

In fact, one has to be born in a shirt in order to receive assistance from the state in accordance with Resolution No. 370. Payments are made only in exceptional cases, since the applicants still need to prove “an immediate threat to life”. Practice shows that the absolute majority of applicants were denied assistance under this decision. "Due to the need for a subjective assessment of whether the situation poses a threat to the life of a citizen, most of those who applied do not receive such assistance from consulates," the lawyers comment. The diplomats themselves have previously reported that the conditions of PP No. 370 are too harsh.

Further more. In order to facilitate these conditions for obtaining financial aid, according to Resolution No. 370, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposes to amend it. On the portal for the preparation of regulatory legal acts posted the corresponding draft of the regulatory legal acts. How exactly is it proposed to reduce the distance with bureaucratic barriers for people over whom the threat to life is already hanging with might and main? That's right - to make people pay for this pleasure, that is, to make this assistance payable.

As noted in the explanatory note to the document, “Considering that upon returning to Russia, a citizen will be obliged to reimburse the state for the costs incurred, the decision on the advisability of applying for it will be made by the citizen himself, i.e. assistance will actually be provided on a declarative basis, and not only when there is a threat to life".

What can I say? Crises such as the worldwide coronavirus epidemic happen once a century. And right there, immediately Russian officials are impatient to rewrite the regulations, at least somehow designed to protect people in the face of disasters. After the slamming of daily aid to citizens who find themselves in distress outside their native state, lobbying for a law to end it in principle (only at your expense) looks like a very consistent political logic.

And the last thing. Making such cannibalistic decisions, officials blame the dishonesty of the citizens themselves, who allegedly commit budget embezzlement.

“In total, about 90,000 applications had to be processed, with over 90% of citizens submitting more than one application; a record - 27 applications from one person, the majority - with inaccurate or contradictory information that requires additional verification, which means more time and effort spent. There were cases when spouses filled out electronic questionnaires separately, but at the same time each of them indicated their “other half” in the submitted document, i.e. a married couple could theoretically receive payments not for two, but for four people. We had to carefully check the information, systematize and even weed out attempts at fraud, ”the Foreign Ministry reports to NI in his letter.

We have already written that due to permanent failures of digital systems and imperfect verification procedures (possibly a lack of "hands"), some applicants received double payments, in addition, they were received by those to whom they were not entitled, and, on the contrary, the money was not reached those who were guaranteed to claim them. Someone received refunds on fake documents, others did not comply with the conditions necessary for such payments.

Well, three specialized structures - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, the Headquarters of the Government of the Russian Federation were instructed to debug this process. Budgets were allocated for emergency, so to speak, "overtime" work. But it's easier to master the budgets, take offense at unscrupulous, incorrigible citizens and hammer the last nail into the coffin of a socially oriented state, on the way to push through another prohibitive law, so to speak, a lesson for the future... Rescue of drowning people, as you know, is personal "civic responsibility".