Russian tourists stranded in India are beaten, harassed and even raped

Monitoring Report: Stranded and stuck in India, over two thousand Russians tourists are struggling to find their way back to home as they are living in miserable conditions, reports Eurasia News on Friday.

“India is changed in just last two weeks. They used to (Indians) smile with us, greeted us, danced with us and laughed with us when we (Russian tourists) had money and now they behave with as we are carriers of Coronavirus infection. They (Indians) are now beating us, threatening us and even trying to rape us if they find women and girls alone in search of finding some help. This is a different India what we saw in tourism promotional videos and in tourism attraction advertisements,” commented Tania at a Russian tourism forum.  

Many Russian say that the local population and even the police treat them very rudely and directly threaten them and they do not have money and now are selling their belongings at cheaper price to buy food.

Natalia who landed in Goa on 25 February said that only source of in contact with her family is her cellphone but charging cards for wi fi is so expensive that either she can eat bread at lunch or charge her phone. Phone Data has become so expensive during the last one week. Shops are open only for 1 hour and you have to find food and phone card.

India is changed in just two weeks. They (Indians) smiled with us, greeted us, danced with us and laughed with us when we (Russian tourists) had money and now they behave with as we are carriers of infection. They (Indians) now are beating us, threatening us and even trying to rape us

“I am calling our Embassy (Russian Embassy) they say sorry they cannot help to buy expensive ticket to go back home and last flight on April 1 was too expensive to travel with.  My credit cards are almost exhausted. What can I do? I am scare, said Svetlana in one Russian Forum.

Situation has become grave for Russians and Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that there are more than 2 thousand citizens of the Russian Federation who have applied for assistance in returning to their homeland.

Several hundred of them were in different cities and states of the north of this huge country. In Mumbai and Bangalore, there are about 40 Russians registered with the consulates. The bulk of tourists from Russia remains in Goa.

After the Indian authorities closed the borders, on March 25, two special flights flew to Russia from there. The Aeroflot plane delivered 388 passengers to Moscow from Delhi, while the charter of Rossiya Airlines delivered 129 people from Goa. Most were so-called package tourists.

Russians who were in India, have already begun exchanging gold and silver for products, and they are being offered evacuation at business class rates. Quarantine was introduced in India on March 22, flights were canceled, and the attitude of local residents towards foreign tourists changed at once. Now many see them as a potential source of infection and therefore refuse even an elementary one.

“We are told to leave hotels and rental housing, and are forced to spend the night sometimes in streets but then Police are harassing us,” commented Natasha on her Facebook page.

Russia has not far advanced in the evacuation of its citizens. On April 1, a message appeared on the website of the Federal Air Transport Agency that Ural Airlines had only “been asked to carry out a number of charter flights to the cities of Trivandrum, Chennai, Goa and Calcutta.” In the preliminary schedule attached to the message, evacuation from the same Goa for the next five days does not appear.

According to the Federal Air Transport Agency, the possibility of organizing a special flight from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is also being discussed, where now, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, there are 141 Russian citizens.

However, many Russians, as it turned out, cannot take advantage of any opportunities to return to their homeland – they are often simply unable to get to the airports because of the complete ban on the movement of people and vehicles. Many of them, like other foreigners of European descent, were in a very dangerous position.

Russians who are sending messages to their friends claim that they are facing sudden hostility, they began to be persecuted, threatened and even beaten – street crowds consider them to be carriers of infection.

“We are told to leave hotels and rental housing, and are forced to spend the night sometimes in streets but then Police are harassing us,” commented Natasha on her Facebook page.

“Often, foreigners simply have nowhere to buy food and necessary medicines – the stores are either closed, or there are no necessary goods, or people of European appearance are not allowed there,” said Alexy in his message to a Russian tourists forum.

More than one thousand Russians were taken out of India on four planes of Russian airlines since March 22, said Ambassador of Russia to India Nikolai Kudashev. According to him, the day before, Aeroflot flight with 406 passengers on board flew to Moscow. He stated first flight took off on March 25.

“Some Russians are facing evictions, threats, assaults and even rapes but they have no access to report these cases and embassy is not listening us,” claimed Ira (real name withheld she said in her message at forum).

One message on Forum says:

“I am in the state of Kerala, and before that I was recently in the state of Rajasthan, that is, I can personally firmly testify to the situation there. But I keep in touch with many of my friends who are now in different states of India. And these are proven people. That is, it’s not just about Internet rumors or gossip – this is first-hand information. Yes, throughout India it is about the same, but those who are now in the state of Goa are in the most difficult situation”.

Another message says:

“I tell, first of all, about myself. March 23, we stayed at the Ramada Hotel in Jaipur. The problems started from the 21st – then for the first time in India it began to feel that some kind of new regime was being established. They stopped feeding at the hotel restaurants, then the museums were completely closed, then the shops began to slowly close. And on the 21st we flew from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, to Jaipur, Rajasthan, and on the 23rd we were expelled from the hotel, not offering any other options: “Look for yourself. We don’t know anything. The hotel is closing.” We were sheltered and my Russian friend who worked in Jaipur helped us get settled. At the same time, information began to arrive from my friends and acquaintances that all foreigners of European descent were expelled from all hotels in India throughout the country, despite any difficult circumstances. For example, there is a young woman Anastasia with five children. She was exposed. And there were many other similar cases. There are my close friends who are in the same situation. Everyone settled as best they could. Usually they were settled by Indian or Russian friends who already had their own dwellings, rented apartments or houses.

On March 27, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Russia completely closed regular and charter flights with other countries. Now carriers can only carry out flights on returning passengers home. The Federal Tourism Agency claims that a significant part of Russians will return on their tickets, but in fact, everything is not so simple. Flights around the world are canceled, the prices of new tickets are extremely high, and many tourists have nowhere to live. Restrictive measures of other countries, for example, quarantine in India, also impede homecoming. Novaya spoke with Russians who could not return home for a long time or are still awaiting evacuation