The U.S. has advised its citizens against travelling to Russia where the FIFA World Cup is currently taking place with 32 countries participating, raising the threat level to 3.
The Department of State in its renewed ‘Travel Advisory for Russia’ advising travellers to reconsider travelling to Russia, said the new advisory replaced the previous Travel Advisory issued in January.
The travel advisory said the advice to reconsider travel to Russia was due to terrorism and harassment adding, some areas have increased risk.
“Do not travel to: The north Caucasus, including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus, due to civil unrest and terrorism; Crimea due to foreign occupation and abuses by occupying authorities.
“Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Russia. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Bomb threats against public venues are common”.
The U.S. noted that the 2018 FIFA World Cup games would be held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, and Saransk, Russia, from June 14 to July 15, 2018.
“Large-scale international events such as the World Cup present an attractive target for terrorists.
“Although security for the World Cup will be extensive, terrorists may seek to attack event locations such as stadiums and Fan Fest viewing areas, tourist sites, transportation hubs, and other public venues.
“Travellers should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the World Cup venues,” the U.S. said.
The Travel Advisory said the U.S. citizens were often victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials.
“U.S. consular assistance to detained individuals is often unreasonably delayed by Russian officials. Russia also enforces special restrictions on dual U.S.-Russian nationals.
“Due to the Russian government-imposed reduction on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Russia, the U.S. government has reduced ability to provide services to U.S. citizens,” it said.
The advisory, however, enjoined those who decided to travel to Russia to expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the World Cup venues and Fan Fest viewing areas.
It said civil unrest and terrorist attacks continued throughout the North Caucasus region including in Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropol, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya.
“Local gangs have kidnapped U.S. citizens and other foreigners for ransom. There have been credible reports of arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing of gay men in Chechnya allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities.
“Do not attempt to climb Mount Elbrus, as travellers must pass close to volatile and insecure areas of the North Caucasus region.
“The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens travelling in the North Caucasus region, including Mount Elbrus, as U.S. government employees are prohibited from travelling to the region.”
It added that Russia is likely to take further military actions in Crimea as part of its occupation of this part of Ukraine but the international community, including the U.S. and Ukraine, does not recognise Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea.
“There are continuing abuses against foreigners and the local population by the occupation authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging their authority on the peninsula.
“The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens travelling in Crimea as U.S. government employees are prohibited from travelling to Crimea,” the U.S. said.