Each of these Russians has their own story. But the situation of those stuck in the bearish corners of the planet, where there has been no flight for the fifth month, is approaching disastrous. There is no money, no work, no material assistance from the homeland either.
Russia has completely stopped regular and charter international flights since March 27, carriers can only send special flights to return passengers to their homeland. Some Russians returned home in this way, but thousands of people continue to wait for rescue boards in various parts of the world.
In April and May of this year, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order to send a total of almost 2 billion rubles from the government reserve fund to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support Russians stranded abroad. Payments were regulated by the decree of the government of the Russian Federation No. 433 "On approval of the Regulation on the provision of social support (assistance) to 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" (PPRF433).
According to this resolution, fellow citizens who previously purchased return tickets for dates from March 16 to May 31, 2020, but who do not have the opportunity to return to their homeland due to the situation with the pandemic, are entitled to financial assistance from budget allocations - at the rate of 2,400 rubles per adult per day, and 1600 rubles per child under 14 years old. The prime minister stressed that daily compensations - for accommodation, food and other urgent needs - will be paid until the return of citizens to Russia or the resumption of regular flights. But on June 30, according to a new order, the effect of decree No. 433 was limited, and the number of recipients of financial aid dropped sharply.
And when it did, the distribution mechanism itself worked with a creak and a rattle.
Many fellow citizens have long run out of money even for food. The work remained somewhere in a past life, and when they can return home - only God knows.
Thousands of fellow misfortunes unite in chat rooms to work together through the bureaucratic jungle and seek the promised help.
“The assistance was to be credited from the date of the return ticket unused due to the closure of the borders until the return to Russia. But with the completed questionnaires, hell began to happen on public services. <…> Tourists rushed to fill out applications <…> without attaching some of the initially optional, but later became mandatory documents. Someone got help, and someone went to the second and third circles of hell. For hundreds of Russians, the system began to issue an error when identifying domestic and foreign passports Somewhere in the transfer of questionnaires from one department to another, confusion arose. And again the problems had to be solved manually Meanwhile, the government, realizing that the opening of borders was not expected, and the number of tourists staying abroad was still large, decided to change the rules of the game. It was decided that the assistance will be credited not from the date of the expired ticket, but from the date of consideration of the application by the Foreign Ministry commission, told Kommersant Irina Uybo and Anton Kolesnikov, creators of the channel "Matpomosch PPRF 433 Recommendations". - We did not have time to deal with this problem, as it turned out that the government decided to completely complete the payments. Whoever did not have time, he was late. It turned out that getting the government-mandated aid is like winning a lottery ticket”.
To receive assistance, citizens must send a questionnaire through the State Services. The decision on the accrual of funds (or refusal) within 24 hours is made by a specially formed commission under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, based on the stated circumstances of the applicant's stay on the territory of a foreign state and the reliability of this information follows from a government order.
Algorithms and principles of aid distribution remained a secret with seven seals. In addition, this confusion was layered with constant failures of digital systems (they could not withstand the load).
Many people today have a formal denial of financial aid in their personal accounts. The Accounts Chamber in the course of its audit revealed payments that were accrued to those who were not entitled, and, on the contrary, the assistance did not reach those to whom it was approved.
Moreover, after July 4, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation through the portal of State Services sent thousands of Russians who returned home a demand to return the surplus of funds paid. At the same time, officials did not take the trouble to somehow explain the calculation methodology and the procedure for accruals. Numerous demands for refunds came to those who did not receive any financial aid at all, and from those who really owed the state, they did not ask anything. Someone continued to drip money even after the returnees had repeatedly notified government agencies that the issue was closed. Some time later, it turned out that swindlers of various stripes also managed to warm up at the "trough". Someone forged travel documents in order to receive money, others used Resolution No. 433 and received money without even intending to return, and this was a prerequisite for receiving payments.
On June 12, on the Day of Russia, “letters of happiness” fell into the offices of the State Services, who turned to tourists for help - in fact, they told about the termination of payments. Many people in need of money from the state did not see, the interlocutors say.
Inquiries to the prosecutor's office, the presidential administration, the government go down to the Foreign Ministry, replies come from there, tourists say.
The bottom line: right now, thousands of Russians are sitting abroad, waiting for a miracle. Export flights, as the head of the foreign policy department himself noted, await not only organized and unorganized tourists, but also students, participants in various international programs, patients undergoing medical treatment abroad, athletes, and people flying out for work.
Export flights are a separate story. Despite the fact that in March the Russian government allocated 23 billion rubles to airlines to cover losses caused by the coronavirus epidemic, despite the Working Group Agreement providing for the return of citizens to the country on account of the purchased unused ticket, most returnees were still forced to pay for a return ticket. Moreover, the prices for these flights have skyrocketed.
“…I had a paid ticket for the Russian airline Pobeda, and its support service confirmed in writing that everything was fine. But it turned out that Aeroflot did not receive money from Pobeda on netting, and I was the last one. Nobody returned my money. Correspondence with the Ministry of Transport and airlines has turned into a theater of the absurd”, - says Irina.
In his last interview on this topic on June 29, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reported that at least 20 thousand Russians remain “in the places inaccessible to Russian aviation”: the Philippines, Oceania, Latin America and other remote locations.
An Izhevsk resident, the founder of film clubs, Andrey Smirnov, calls his stay in Fiji a forced sitting in paradise. The closure of air traffic caught him at a small airport on this island, when he was making a connection, returning from a budget trip from New Zealand to Japan, the final point of the compound route was to be Russia.
The owners of the resort with a telling name in the Russian transcription "Beach House" (Beach House) did not leave the Russian in trouble and began to save at their own expense. In gratitude for the meals and lodging for the night, Andrei began to wash the dishes and cook in the restaurant. The film critic compares his stay here with a Zen monastery, where he has been volunteering for the fifth month already. During this time, he managed to introduce Russian cuisine into the menu, was proclaimed a chef and received the keys to the restaurant. He started a Telegram channel, where he talks in detail about the complexities and joys of "heavenly life".
But even such ingenuity of cheerful Russian people is not an option. Fijians fear problems with immigration services and they try not to advertise such volunteering of tourists in their institutions.
In the first couple of months after the borders were closed, everything was simple, logical and understandable. Export flights were organized from one country or another with a fixed cost: 200 euros - from Europe, 400 euros - on long-distance routes. The lucky ones sometimes managed to fly out for free. People sent applications, the Embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fussed around, organized flights, and those who were waiting for these flights were paid material assistance. But at the end of June, the material aid was "optimized", says Andrey Smirnov.
“In Fiji, like me, dozens of tourists from different countries were stuck, there was a large group of Russians. When they despaired of waiting for rescue, they accidentally found a complex combination of non-Russian charters with a hub in Italy, where they managed to dock with a Russian export flight from Rome. The ticket chain cost them a fantastic 150 thousand rubles, and our diplomats, delighted that the drowning people were saving themselves, helped with visas and border formalities. After that, it dawned on the Foreign Ministry: you can not send planes to all countries at all, thereby saving a lot of money. The concept of "come after everyone" has sunk into oblivion. Now the responsible persons do not bother themselves with negotiations with all the countries where ours are stuck, but make export hubs only from a limited number of points all over the world, to which people have to get on their own and at their own expense”, - says Andrey.
But if in the case of Europe such a plan does not look catastrophic, since the countries are small and they are all close to each other, it is not a problem to get from Switzerland to Italy for reasonable money, then in the case of remote territories such as Fiji, a similar plan - madness. Instead of 400 euros, if you please pay 2000 and fly yourself. Listen: the Foreign Ministry seriously considers the Rome-Moscow flight to be an accomplished export flight from Fiji! The scheme was officially put into circulation and received the name "hybrid". And the fact that it takes 17 thousand kilometers to fly to Italy from the island, that there are very high risks of canceling connecting flights on the way to Rome, and getting stuck in an airport means further aggravating one's situation - nobody cares”, - the tourist says.
This "export flight " from Fiji took place on 24 May. Initially, no one suspected that this personal initiative of the Russians themselves would be appropriated by the Foreign Ministry after the fact and that it would be called an official return from the island. The entire Nadi-Sydney-Doha-Rome-Moscow route was a chain of regular commercial flights. The resident of Izhevsk, who was left without income at the very beginning of the epidemic, did not find 150 thousand rubles for this helping hand from his homeland.
Further more. If you do not fly, it means that you automatically refuse financial assistance from the state. As the oligarch Polonsky said there? No billion - go where? Now you can imagine how many compatriots in reality cannot return to their homeland from remote corners of the planet, and why this is happening.
“Since June, material aid payments have stopped. The Foreign Ministry has stopped responding to inquiries and no longer announces any plans for export flights from Fiji, which it has been talking about all spring. Were there any compatriots? Zakharova's victorious reports [ed. spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry] about how great they are there, that we were all taken out, against this background, look like a particularly sophisticated mockery. People stuck in the bearish corners of the planet, from where they can't get out at all, need special attention. If you cannot logistically organize the crossing, then at least do not deprive it of support”, - says Andrey Smirnov.
He has not seen material assistance since June. He has not received his salary from cinema clubs and cinemas since their closure in April. All phone calls with representatives of Russian diplomatic departments end the same way: they ask to wait. What to wait and how long to wait, and most importantly, for what money - no one knows.
“A woman who was stuck with me in Fiji was answered on an application on the State Services portal after three weeks: your request for material aid was considered, the result was negative. On what grounds was she denied, for what reason, and what does this mean? How do I appeal against a refusal? No explanation. It's about life, about survival! .. Who are these people who make such decisions? How to get justice? Some questions. In fact, it turns out that the reverse side of all this pathetics "We do not abandon our own" means exactly the opposite. Government Decree No. 433, which was simple and clear, soon acquired amendments and changes that simply undermined its whole essence. That is, the help is officially over, as if everyone was taken out, the case is closed. Yes, many Russians were taken out of logistically simple places and even done it for free, which is good. But the fact that the others were quietly and noiselessly deprived of all support, ordered to flounder and solve problems for insane money is disrespectful", - Smirnov says sadly.
The other day, "Japanese Airlines", whose ticket was stuck on the day of the closure of air travel and on which the Izhevsk resident was hoping very much, announced the postponement of the resumption of their flights, at best, until October. Russia's opening of the borders with England, Turkey and Tanzania also does not save the situation, because the return through these countries still costs at least a hundred thousand rubles. Such is the test of paradise...
Novye Izvestia sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation with a request to clarify what kind of measures are being taken at the present time for the provision of material support and the organization of exported flights in favor of compatriots in distress abroad due to the restrictive measures in connection with COVID-19.