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Harassment warning to Aussies visiting Russia

April 4, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australians planning visits to Russia have been warned about the possibility of “anti-Western sentiment or harassment” and advised to reconsider travelling to the FIFA World Cup later this year, as international tension mounts over an alleged nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy living in England.

After Australia decided to expel two Russian diplomats as part of global action against Moscow over the incident, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) chose Easter Day to advise Aussie travellers to Russia: “Due to heightened political tensions, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-Western sentiment or harassment.

“While the Australian Government is not aware of any increased difficulties for Australians travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice. Remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.”

DFAT added that the level of its advice has not changed. “Exercise a high degree of caution in Russia. Higher levelshttps://www.centarahotelsresorts.com/cosihotels/?utm_source=e-global&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=cosi-firstlaunch&fbtrack=CUST-cosi-firstlaunch-e-global-banner apply in some parts of the country.”

Then Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack weighed in, urging Australians to reconsider travelling to Russia.

Many Australians are planning to travel to the FIFA World Cup later this year and McCormack said they should think carefully before travelling.

“If you don’t need to travel to Russia at the moment then think twice, think three times about doing it,” McCormack told ABC News.

The official warnings came after Australia joined Western allies in expelling Russian diplomats over Russia’s alleged use of a chemical weapon to try to murder a former Russian intelligence official, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, in the English cathedral city of Salisbury on 4 March 2018.

Russia vehemently denies any involvement and senior Russian diplomatic and military officials have accused Britain of hiding facts about the case and possibly planning to destroy evidence.

Britain says Russia was definitely behind the attack. Others doubt that, saying Russia would have had nothing to gain – and much to lose – by attempting an assassination on the eve of the Russian presidential election and in the run-up to hosting the FIFA World Cup.

British scientists said this morning they were unable to determine where the substance used in the attack was made. Russian experts allege it could have been created in a well-equipped laboratory anywhere and Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, has called on Britain to apologise to Russia for its “mad accusations” that “have no foundation whatsoever”.

Britain, followed by the US and about 25 other countries including Australia, have expelled Russian diplomats over the incident, with Russia retaliating in kind.

Not all Western countries have joined the expulsions – New Zealand is among those that have declined to do so. All countries joining the expulsions are in Europe, except for the US, Canada and Australia.

Written by Peter Needham

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