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Lawmaker Wants To Ruin Russians' Vacations Abroad

Egypt and Thailand have been the top destinations for Russian tourists this year. (file photo)
Egypt and Thailand have been the top destinations for Russian tourists this year. (file photo)

Russian holidaymakers won't be heading to three of their favorite destinations if one lawmaker has his way.

Yevgeny Marchenko, a member of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, believes Egypt, Thailand, and Turkey are bad for one's health, and has reportedly asked Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and state tourism agency chief Oleg Safronov to prohibit Russians from vacationing there.

According to an interview with on July 14, Marchenko lists "frequent traffic accidents, violation of safety standards by hotel workers, criminal attacks, and alcohol and food poisoning" among the problems that await Russians upon arrival at those destinations. According to Marchenko, the three countries don't follow "the most basic safety norms."

Marchenko, 43, points out that he doesn't "have any particular desire to invade people's rights and freedom" to choose a vacation destination. Nevertheless, he is intent on keeping Russians safe and encouraging them to spend their "billions of dollars" in holiday money at home.

If an outright travel ban is not legally possible, Marchenko suggests that authorities should decrease the number of both charter and commercial flights, reintroduce visa regimes, and raise travel insurance costs pertaining to the three countries, Russian media reported on July 14.

The lawmaker also calls for extensive media coverage on the problems he believes Russian holidaymakers would almost inevitably encounter in Egypt, Thailand, and Turkey.

He has reportedly asked the state tourism agency, Rosturizm, and the Foreign Ministry to discourage people from traveling to the three countries, and urged the Health Ministry to frequently warn potential tourists about the dangers of infectious diseases and other health hazards there.

If all his proposals go unmet, Marchenko says, he would not rule out taking his fight to the State Duma when it reconvenes this fall.

"This is not the State Duma's remit but we still can adopt a resolution," Marchenko told

Visa-free regimes with Thailand and Turkey, and visa-upon-arrival in Egypt, combine with favorable climates and relatively low costs to attract millions of Russians every year.

According to state tourism agency figures, Egypt and Thailand, respectively, are the top two destinations for Russian tourists this year, with Turkey making the top 10.

Marchenko wants to see more of them vacationing at the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, and Russia's Black Sea resorts.

State tourism agency figures indicate that the total number of Russian tourists traveling abroad has dropped to 1.7 million in the first quarter of 2015 from 2.8 million over the same period in 2014.

Falling oil and gas prices and a significant drop in the ruble's value amid Western sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis has diminished Russian tourists' purchasing power.

Russian authorities and media have in the past encouraged Russians to spend their vacations at home, especially in the annexed Crimean Peninsula, but calls to ban travel abroad are basically unprecedented.

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on Russian media and RFE/RL Russian Service reports
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    Farangis Najibullah

    Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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