The wide-spread travel restrictions for Russian employees of national security, defence and law enforcement agencies were imposed last year when heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Drug Control Service, the Federal Penitentiary Service, the General Prosecutor Office and the Ministry of Defense sent to their staff recommendations not to travel to Western countries. Similar requests to limit traveling abroad were received by judges.
In practice, such recommendations are implemented through seizures of international passports to be stored in safe boxes of the heads of different departments. According to the published presidential decrees and official statistics, total headcount of Russian force authorities amounts to at least 2.5 million people. In February 2015, the Russian Interior Minister adopted a special procedure according to which any policeman might travel abroad only with written permission of the head of the local department of Internal Affairs, deputy minister or minister. In summer it became known that police officers can obtain permission to travel abroad as tourists only to 30 countries*.
As informed by the head of the Federal Bailiffs Service in the press-conference held in October, over 1.4 million Russians couldn’t travel abroad because of outstanding debts for the amount exceeding 10 000 RUB (approx.120 EUR) during the first nine months of 2015.
In November, a State Duma deputy introduced the draft law to the parliament proposing to legislate travel-abroad restrictions for employees of the internal affairs agencies. Amendments to the law “Of the Procedure of Citizens’ Traveling Abroad” specify that the right of Russian citizens to travel abroad may be temporarily suspended, if they are employees of the internal affairs agencies or serve in state civil positions in the authorities, with the list of positions being defined by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. By now, these amendments have been submitted to the security and anti-corruption council. Besides, for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, the State Duma started considering the option of introducing exit visas for Russian citizens.
According to the Russian Federal Migration Service, the agency issued 32 million of biometric international passports over the last nine years. Thus, slightly over 20% of Russians have the right to travel abroad. Representatives from the Association of Tour Operators and Federal Agency for Tourism told in November 2015 that the annual tourist traffic from Russia covers 10 million tourists and it dropped by nearly 30% vs. 2014. (rbcdaily.ru)
* Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belorussia, Brazil, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Kirghizia, China, Cuba, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Republic of South Africa, South Ossetia.