The French in Russia: “There is an anxiety-provoking atmosphere”

Since Vladimir Putin’s surprise statement on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, relations between Westerners and Russia have been deteriorating hour by hour. As always when the news requires it, the editorial staff of the Lesfrancais.press site interviewed Franck Ferrari, the elected representative of the French in Russia, on Stereochic, the radio station for expatriates around the world.

Mass departures from Moscow

Franck Ferrari does not hide a deterioration in the state of mind of the Russian population. Vladimir Putin’s announcement triggered a series of emotional reactions, unusual among Muscovites.

If the streets remain calm, the accesses to the exits of the city are now permanently saturated. Sign of massive departure, the potentially mobilized Russians seek to leave the territory. And this while this Sunday, September 25, the Russian State promulgated a law condemning all those who seek to flee their military obligations to ten years in prison.

Dual nationals can be mobilized

On the side of the French authorities, the ambassador wrote to French people residing in Russia to remind them of the instructions for caution. The security of our compatriots is not yet threatened.

As Franck Ferrari indicates at the microphone of Stereochic, we are “always in the spotlight”, and there are no plans to proceed with evacuations. However, the mobilization decree caused a stir in the French community in Russia.

If expatriates are not affected by this ordinance, except through their Russian entourage who could be mobilized, the administrative situation of dual nationals is much more worrying, like that of the Russian husbands of French women. Indeed, the latter, Russian citizens, are obviously also concerned by the categories classifying men between those who must or can or cannot join the front.

“Without panicking on board, there are decisions to be made”

Franck Ferrari, Advisor to the French in Russia

Logically, the families concerned wonder about a possible engagement with Russia while France would be in an opposing camp, or quite simply do not feel concerned by this conflict. Thus, since last Wednesday, the consulates as the French elected officials of the country are questioned on the modalities of departure to France.

» From now on, he touches reality like Franco-Russian children who have just had their majoritys”

Franck Ferrari, Advisor to the French in Russia

Franck Ferrari is also a teacher at the French school in Moscow and does not hide the fact that parents, ready to leave, are multiplying.

How to leave Russia?

But if we want to leave Russia, we need power. With Western sanctions, Moscow, like other cities, is cut off from much of the world. However, the French (and not the dual nationals who can be mobilized, we will come back to this later) can use the “normal sector” as Franck Ferrari designates it, not without irony, that is to say a trip to France via Turkey or Serbia or Finland.

French students leaving for Moscow (AFP -2022)

On the other hand, while prices were already high, due to the complexity of travel, inflation, which also affects Russia, with the explosion in demand for flights from Russia to international destinations, air ticket prices have followed an exponential curve with a Moscow-Ankara fare of around 2,500 euros one way. However, there are tips, combining train, taxi and plane, to leave Russian territory at reasonable costs, Franck Ferrari shares some of them with us in the podcast.

Tricks that are not only about ways to leave Russian territory, such as expats in China, our compatriots in Russia have become addicted to VPNs and have developed networks to receive products from the West.

An evolving situation

With Franck Ferrari, we therefore take stock of a situation which has evolved, is deteriorating, but which for the moment does not call into question the presence of the French in Russia. If the case of potentially combatant dual nationals remains thorny and could lead to diplomatic tensions with the Russian services, the embassy, ​​the consular services and the elected officials do not want to panic.

Listen to the podcast with Franck Ferrari

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