Jews are reporting they’re being blocked from escaping Russia even though they hold Israeli passports.
Hebrew news media has interviewed numerous men and families who, while holding dual citizenship in Russia and Israel, were not allowed to enter the European country of Estonia. Border guards and immigration staff are ignoring the Estonian policy that allows holders of non-Russian passports to enter.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced extremely unpopular conscription efforts that have led to protests across Russia. While Moscow says it plans to conscript 300,000 men, western observers say the country is moving towards a general mobilization – the first time since World War II. Since the announcement, hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled to neighboring countries. Over 60,000 Russian soldiers have so far died in the war on Ukraine.
Unable to fly to most countries, Russians seeking to evade the draft, which is often carried out at gunpoint, have swamped land border crossings with Finland, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and even as far east as Mongolia. Videos posted on social media showed lines of cars stretching for miles.
Since the announcement, the neighboring countries of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia placed restrictions on the numbers of Russians allowed to enter their countries. The restrictions were not meant to include people carrying other passports, however.
Two men told Haaretz they were refused entry to Estonia even though they had Israeli passports and tickets to continue traveling to Tel Aviv.
Eight other Israelis were also barred entry, according to the Telegram channel, Trueisrael.
Another woman, Lia Chechik, told Haaretz she could not enter because she did not have a ticket for a connecting flight to Israel or valid health insurance in the European Union, an unusual requirement of people fleeing Putin. The paper noted that Chechik later returned with the proper documents and was permitted to enter.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said its consulate in Finland — which also oversees relations with Estonia — is looking into the matter.
The New York Times reported that the few available flights out of Russia to Turkey, UAE, Armenia and Montenegro have either sold out or have become too expensive. Russians do not need a visa to enter those countries.
According to Associated Press, the price for a one-way economy class flight from Moscow to Dubai or Istanbul cost more than $9,100.
–Metro Voice and wire services