Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Can Russians escape from Russia living abroad?

If a Russian citizen gets into trouble abroad, he or she should first contact the embassy of their country, rather than rush to journalists with complaints and heart-breaking stories. This is what officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry think. Russian citizens are confident, though, that one can shake up officials and make them do something only if a story receives an extensive coverage in the press at first.

Many Russians get into trouble in other countries every now and then. There is nothing surprising about this fact at all. The problem is not about our compatriots abroad, it is about their number. The modern society becomes increasingly mobile, while borders get more and more transparent.

The main thing is that a Russian citizen should know that he or she can always count on the support and assistance of the state, should they find themselves in a problematic situation. This rule is reflected in the Russian legislation, but in practice a lot of nuances occur, as always. Today, a conversation between a Russian citizen caught in a difficult situation abroad and consulate or embassy officials most often ends with mutual accusations. People complain that diplomats refuse to solve their problems, whereas diplomats claim that people come to help when it is too late and do not behave the way they should.

At the round-table discussion devoted to the protection of the rights of Russian citizens abroad, Deputy Director of the Consular Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Prosvirkin condemned the Russian student who had been raped in Italy: "A Norwegian girl found herself in a similar situation too, but look at what she does. She avoids communication with the press, but our girl talks too much. She needs to learn from the Norwegian."

Indeed, the Russian woman, being gripped with emotions, could be saying inadequate things. Let's remember how the situation was developing. After the Russian woman reported the rape, the locals immediately pronounced their verdict: "The Russian prostitute offends our good boys." No wonder that the police did not rush to open a criminal case in a hope that she would not stand the pressure and leave home, and then they would just drop the whole story.

Only after the student turned to the Russian press, the incident received proper attention. Russian embassy officials interfered, and the police finally opened the case. The girl said on the phone that she did not feel any help from the consulate office.  However, Konstantin Dolgov, a human rights aide of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that she simply could not know and see all the efforts that were being taken through diplomatic channels.

It was most likely the case, taking into consideration the fact that such a large state as Russia is definitely capable of showing influence on its partners. Well, if the Russian press had not intervened, the channels, most likely, would never have been involved. After all, ministerial officials are well aware of Russophobia in the Western media that affects the public opinion. That is why they can call  any Russian woman, who has problems with the local law enforcement system, a "prostitute."

The story about the Russian young man, who fell into a coma after he had been beaten in a detention center in Canada, was developing similarly. The Canadian side refused to cover the medical costs. Now, according to Konstantin Dolgov, the issue has been solved. They now decide how the young man can be transported home.

Another acute problem of recent times is associated with children who are continually taken away from Russian parents abroad. For example, the story of Anastasia Zavgorodnyaya has received extensive media coverage, after the woman had had her four children, including a newborn infant, taken away from her by Finnish social services. Alexander Prosvirkin, the above-mentioned official of Russia's Foreign Ministry, tried to shift the blame on the Russian woman too. He claimed that the woman and her younger children had no Russian citizenship and that "the family was not registered at the consulate office."

Given the age of the children - two years and seven days - the accusation sounds strange, to say the least. When a Pravda.Ru correspondent asked why the Russian consul did not attend the interrogation of a six-year girl that was conducted in the absence of her parents and a child psychologist, Alexander Prosvirkin was genuinely surprised: "How could the consul be aware of the interrogation?"

As long as consular officials, as we are told, are in constant contact with victims, should not they at least demand the elementary rules of law be observed towards Russian citizens, especially children?

Alexander Prosvirkin even referred to US embassies, ​​where, as he said, there were special signs installed, warning that threats against diplomats are punishable. There are no such signs in Russian embassies, so Russian citizens tend to yell and threaten. It is a pity that the diplomat did not compare the level of protection of American citizens in other countries to the protection of Russian citizens. Many things would become clear then.

Svetlana Smetanina


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