Starting April 4, Russia bans all international flights, including charter flights evacuating foreign nationals from Russia or returning Russian nationals back to Russia. Russia has also closed down all its land borders since March 30.
Hundreds of Armenian labor migrants wishing to return to Armenia are now locked in Russia. Many of these labor migrants lost their jobs in Russia due to the lockdown. A significant part of them were unregistered labor force and now are faced with losing their existing shelters.
Russia’s air and land borders are closed. Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry declared earlier that on April 6th, a charter flight would be organized for citizens of Armenia. “Red Wings” air company received a one-time permission from the Russian government to operate the Moscow-Yerevan flight․ Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan confirms that the agreement is still in force.
“The flight is planned solely for the citizens of Armenia. The air company was in charge of ticket sales. The one-time flight permission is still valid. Armenian Foreign Ministry and the Embassy of Armenia in Russia have been calling on citizens of Armenia to return to homeland as later it would be difficult. We made our last call on March 17 when the borders were still open. Given the situation at the moment, things can change at any moment, it is difficult to predict anything,” said Naghdalyan to Epress.am.
The Embassy of Armenia in Russia has registered 2000 citizens of Armenia awaiting return. The embassy is in constant contact with those that have difficulties related to shelter, finances and need other kinds of assistance.
A temporary shelter is planned to open in Rostov-on-Don for those citizens of Armenia who have been unable to return to Armenia and are left without a shelter due to the pandemic. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a statement calling on citizens of Armenia located in Rostov-on-Don and Krasnodar to immediately contact the consulate by contacting +7(863)253-67-45 or +7 (961) 408 – 44 – 23( WhatsApp/Viber) phone numbers.
Spokesperson Naghdalyan says that the Embassy is also attempting to resolve shelter-related issues for citizens locked down in other cities of Russia. As for the flight of J7 canceled on April 2, out of the dozens of citizens left overnight in Domodedovo airport, 18 were accommodated by the Embassy in hotels, with another 11 accommodated later.
Others found accommodation with relatives living in Russia.
The embassy of Armenia in Russia is negotiating permission for another flight. According to Naghdalyan, if such a chance is given, the Embassy and Ministry will release a separate statement.