The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice for Russia in light of the nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, and the international community’s subsequent decision to expel more Russian diplomats than at any other point in the last 30 years. British travellers are cautioned against mentioning politics, and warned that they may face “anti-British sentiment or harassment”. They are also advised to avoid any protests or demonstrations, and to remain vigilant in public places, especially in areas such as open-air markets and events where access is not controlled.
Although the advice is similar to that issued for many countries, it may provoke concern among those due to travel to Russia in the next few weeks. In particular, some of those planning to travel to support their team in the FIFA World Cup later this year, may be questioning the wisdom of their trip. They may or may not find reassurance in a Foreign Office guide – Be on the Ball for fans planning to visit Russia for the World Cup.
When all’s said and done, the Foreign Office guidance is only one part of a far bigger puzzle. Although political questions over whether or not England should boycott the World Cup appear to have settled in favour of sending the team and their fans without any accompanying dignitaries, further issues remain: for example, some sections of the media are now reporting that campaigners have launched a CrowdFunding appeal to bring legal action to try and prevent the tournament from taking place in Russia.